Teen Depressant Abuse Treatment

Despite the name, depressant drugs do not cause Depression or cause increased symptoms in those who are depressed. When properly prescribed, they slow the central nervous system and specific brain processes involved in Anxiety and sleep issues. Many formerly common drugs in the depressant category, such as tranquilizers, are no longer in common use because of their severe side effects like respiratory depression and addiction.

Today’s more commonly used depressants include benzodiazepines (benzos), Xanax, Valium, and Estazolam – all of which treat severe symptoms of panic, stress, and insomnia.

The majority of teens who develop an addiction to these drugs obtain them illegally, but even teens who are legally prescribed depressants can become physically dependent or addicted.

What Does Teen Depressant Abuse Look Like?

  • The longer someone takes a depressant drug, the more physical tolerance builds. The individual needs larger and larger doses, which result in behavioral changes, rapid mood swings, and difficulty achieving the same effects.
  • Teens who are addicted to depressants may become secretive about their dependence, becoming moody and irritable.
  • Some teens recognize when they have developed a dependence. They may feel intense guilt or shame, leading them attempt stopping cold-turkey. This results in difficult and potentially dangerous withdrawal experiences that lead to relapse.

Signs of Teen Depressant Abuse

Frequent use of recreational drugs

Frequent use of recreational drugs

Using more than one drug together

Using more than one drug together

Possession of paraphernalia (pipes)

Possession of paraphernalia (pipes)

Dishonesty, including chronic lying

Dishonesty, including chronic lying

Changes in school performance

Changes in school performance

Mood swings and irritability

Mood swings and irritability

Causes of Teen Depressant Abuse

There is no one specific cause for teen depressant abuse, but family history does play a huge role in whether teens develop it. A tendency towards substance abuse is often caused by genetic disorders that heighten the tendency to be more susceptible to addiction or self-medication. That said, a family history doesn’t automatically mean a person will become an addict, nor does an addict need to have a family history. There are other potential causes, too.

Traumatic events or abuse – Especially in childhood. Teens may use depressants to self-medicate in an attempt to shield themselves from their emotions, memories, and difficult childhood experiences.

Gender - males are more likely to experiment with drugs, but women have a higher susceptibility to addiction. Both can become addicted.

Peer pressure - Even though depressants aren’t usually widely available at parties, most teens do get drugs at parties or from friends. They may end up trying benzos or other depressants later.

Mental health disorders - Depressants release dopamine, making teens feel good. Teens with mental health issues often seek out depressants and use them as a coping mechanism.

Loneliness - Isolation makes people withdraw, enhancing sensations of Depression. Teens may turn to depressants in the hopes they will change the way they feel.

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Teen Depressant Abuse Treatment | Paradigm San Francisco


of teens misuse prescription medications.


of teens abusing depressants use at least two drugs.


people die each year as a result of benzodiazepine abuse.

How Can I Help My Teen with Depressant Abuse?

Educate yourself - Make sure you understand what addiction is, how it works, and why your teen is unable to stop without help. The more familiar you are with how addiction works, the easier it will be for you to support your teen through treatment – including any possible relapses. As your teen works through treatment, the undesirable new behaviors they’ve developed will decrease and ultimately stop, but a balance of firmness and patience is required.

Support sobriety - Show your teen you care by being present when they need you most, and by staying sober yourself. Relapses are common, but your teen needs to see them as a learning experience and stepping stone, not a reason to give up. Your support will help your teen see the value and importance of trying again.

Active involvement - Your teen will spend a lot of time in both private and group therapy sessions during treatment. You are an important part of the process. Strengthening your parent/child bond will go a long way in helping your teen stay clean.

What Types of Teen Depressant Abuse Treatment Are Available?

Withdrawal Treatment

There are no medications that can specifically address the effects benzos and other depressants have on a teen’s brain. Ensuring withdrawal survival usually means gradually decreasing your teen’s dosage in order to prevent life-threatening symptoms. This should always be done under close medical care and supervision – usually in an inpatient facility.

Talk Therapy

Many teens don’t initially realize the effects their substance abuse has had on their relationships and behaviors in general. Talk therapy helps them to understand the patterns that started them on the path to drug abuse as well as the consequences. Knowing why they were vulnerable is critical to helping them find better coping mechanisms they can use to avoid a relapse.

Our trained therapists will help your teen recognize what triggers or stressors contributed to their continued drug use. Correcting the issues – mental, emotional, or physical – allows teens to recover from their past experiences and take a proactive role in creating their futures.

Group Therapy

Everyone who has lived through addiction has a unique story. Group therapy sessions allow teens to take the skills they’ve been learning in their one-on-one sessions and apply them in interactions with others. Everyone who attends has an opportunity to practice their new coping and communication skills while developing a sense of community.

Each story provides perspective. Everyone has something to add when it comes to living a sober life and choosing coping mechanisms that don’t involve a high. Teens not only gain new perspective, but have the opportunity to offer a hand to others in need.

Teen Depressant Abuse Treatment at Paradigm San Francisco

The first step of depressant teen abuse treatment at Paradigm San Francisco is getting teens through the symptoms of withdraw safely. We create a safe atmosphere where teens can take advantage of different therapies and begin to visualize their new, clean lives free of negative behavior patterns and – most important;u – substance abuse.

Depressant abuse therapy takes time. The work your teen does in our program is just the starting point; full-time sobriety is a life-long journey. Your teen will leave Paradigm with a solid foundation and a new set of skills that can be applied to any aspect of life.

A Change of Atmosphere

Going through withdrawal and starting therapy in a new atmosphere is instrumental in helping teens avoid the triggers and memories that led them to substance abuse. A fresh start allows teens to relax and focus on their treatment plan as they work towards living a healthier life. Healing the mind is just as challenging as healing the body and it all takes time.

Your teen will learn about addiction and how it impacts the brain. We’ll also address healthier options for dealing with stress, sensations of failure, loss, and other triggers.

“ Paradigm dug really deep at getting to the root of my sons addiction issues. They also involved us in the process and worked through a lot of family issues. The staff and councilors were top notch and I felt that my son was in a safe spot even with some of the deep emotional issues he was going through. We continue to go to learn from the councilors and other families even after our son’s treatment. It has been a very good experience. “

– Dave Z.

Frequently Asked Questions about Teen Depressant Abuse

Using depressants is a choice; so why can’t I choose to stop?

You made the choice to use a depressant in the beginning, but addiction changes the way your brain functions. It causes your brain to create incredibly powerful sensations and cravings that are extremely difficult to experience and harder to overcome. It’s easier to believe we have a conscious choice in every decision we make, but subconscious impulses also play a role.

The good news is that you can reverse these neurological changes over time. You can learn to be more conscious and present as you make decisions and you can learn to work past cravings. The more time passes, the easier it gets to live a clean life.

Won’t depressant drugs make me depressed?

Not usually. Depressants are known for helping people calm their anxieties and other symptoms, but they do not actually cause Depression for all but a tiny subset of patients. Your addiction to them can increase depressive symptoms if you are already depressed, and the addiction itself can make you feel depressed. Your Depression isn’t actually your experience of coming from the depressant drugs.

Is addiction curable?

Yes – and no. Some of the side effects of addiction can be cured, but your body’s reaction to certain situations and stressors may still trigger cravings. It’s not unheard of for people who have been sober for years to relapse in times of stress. You always have a risk for relapse, but the work you do in therapy will help you to minimize the risks so that your urges are lessened.

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