What is Tranquilizer Dependence and How Does it Start?

Tranquilizers such as Valium or Xanax can be dangerous when used inappropriately. Many individuals are not aware of the addictive and dangerous properties of using tranquilizers. Learn more about dependence and how it starts.

What are Tranquilizers?

Tranquilizers are drugs used to treat anxiety or sleeping disorders. With similar effects to alcohol, the nervous system becomes depressed. Another term often used is sedatives as the effect is in the early stages of sedation. Nearly 60 million people are estimated to be prescribed a type of tranquilizer every year. Tranquilizers are commonly abused due to the calming effect it has on the body and brain atrophy linked to people with addiction to the drug.


Types of tranquilizers are broken into two groups: major and minor. Major tranquilizers are anti-psychotics because those are used to treat mental disorders like schizophrenia. Drugs like Haldol, Navane, Thorazine and Mellaril are different from minor tranquilizers as they do not have the same calming effect. Minor tranquilizers include Xanax, Ativan, Valium and Librium which are most often abused and addictive.

Signs of Dependence

Some common signs of dependence include:

  • Shaky hands
  • Depressed breathing
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Memory loss
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Increased sleepiness

Causes of Dependency

Tranquilizers can cause dependency in many ways. First by forming a calming effect and once this subsides, the person tends to want more. THe more that are taken, the higher one’s tolerance becomes.Tranquilizers are often given to people for treatment of alcohol withdrawal as they produce similar effects. A person may abuse the drug and want a ‘high’ from it which is due to the fact tranquilizers are easy to obtain and take recreationally.

Long Term Effects

Long term, tranquilizer abuse may cause a ‘paradoxical effect,’ which gives a person a feeling of increased anxiety and agitation. Long term use has been associated with increased aggression, extreme depression, memory loss and possible cerebral atrophy over time. Withdrawal symptoms may also occur in individuals who try to quit taking tranquilizers.

Any individual who believes addiction or dependence is an issue should seek help. The first step is detox to get off the drug, go through withdrawal for a few days and select a rehab program for follow up care. Throughout the program, an individual will be supervised with managed care under the watchful eye of doctors and therapists trained in addiction recovery. Treatment plans can be individualized to provide the best treatment protocol available and ensure positive momentum towards a full and lasting recovery.


The Villa offers help and support to individuals who struggle with addiction to tranquilizers and other drugs. Call us to find out how we can support your journey to recovery from dependence or addiction.