The benefits of hypnotic drugs include inducing sleep, relieving pain, preventing the sensation of pain, and calming anxiety. Drawbacks to using these types of drugs include dependence, the inability to drive vehicles safely, dizziness, and withdrawal symptoms that mimic the cause of treatment. In most countries, drugs that have a hypnotic effect are controlled through prescriptions, although non-prescription alternatives such as alcohol often produce the same effect.
Hypnotic drugs are typically prescribed to help relieve symptoms of anxiety and insomnia. In some cases they are used to treat moderate to severe pain resulting from injuries. The main effect and benefit of these types of drugs is that they relax the body's central nervous system, which is why they may also be used to numb parts of the body during certain types of surgery. This sedative, calming effect can help individuals who have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep for adequate periods of time.
The same effect can also help alleviate some of the disruptive symptoms associated with anxiety disorders. Since hypnotic drugs depress the central nervous system, panic attacks may be stopped or prevented with their use. Individuals who are afflicted by severe phobias and nervousness can benefit from the calming effects of these types of drugs. Sedatives may be used to treat the physical effects of severe trauma related to serving in the armed forces, sexual battery, and various types of abuse.
Adverse side effects of hypnotic drugs are often seen with long-term or repeated use, although they can also occur with short-term use. The main drawback is that people who take these types of drugs are at risk of developing a dependency. Some individuals enjoy the feeling that they get from taking sedatives and continue to consume them after they have served their medical purpose. Besides physical dependency, discontinuing the use of psychoactive drugs may cause extreme withdrawal symptoms, such as irregular sleep patterns, daytime sleepiness, loss of physical dexterity, and increased anxiety.
During treatment, hypnotic drugs may impair the patient's memory recall, concentration, and reaction time. In addition, these substances can sometimes have life-threatening interactions with other medications and substances. The use of some types of sedatives can result in anti-social and irrational behavior that resembles the actions of someone who may be intoxicated. Increased sensitivity to external sensory stimulation is an additional concern with the use of psychoactive drugs. A state of emotional flatness or depression is seen in some patients who use hypnotic drugs, especially if the use is long-term.