Health A-Z

Medical Content Created by the Faculty of the Harvard Medical School



Depressant dependence is difficult to shake without support and without treatment for the root causes of the addiction.

Withdrawal is likely to be safe when the dose of the substance is reduced gradually. People who develop withdrawal symptoms that get bad enough to require hospitalization have a 2% to 5% risk of death, a rate similar to severe alcohol withdrawal. However, most people get help before reaching that stage.

Since it is easy to overdo it with some of these drugs, the risk of accidental overdose is significant.

In general, formal treatment is likely to reduce the risk of relapse (returning to the addictive behavior).

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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