Sedatives: FSA Eligibility
What are sedatives?
Sedatives are a group of drugs and medications that are designed to relax the central nervous system, and in some cases, bring about a sleep state. Sedatives are used for a variety of medical purposes, such as helping to improve a patient's sleep cycle or achieve a more deep, restful sleep, as well as being a useful accompaniment to analgesics preceding surgery, or as a means of reducing anxiety before a major medical procedure (Everyday Health).
Historically, alcohol was the most common means of treating anxiety and nervousness before medical procedures, but the introduction of bromides in 1826 was the first true advance in sedatives. However, due to their toxic nature, bromides were replaced by barbiturates in the early 20th century but these also proved to be troublesome due to their highly addictive nature. In the 1950s, the use of barbiturates gave way to the introduction of benzodiazepines, which remain among the most common forms of the drug.
Today, sedatives are generally classified by how they affect the human body. For instance, barbiturate-type drugs (pentobarbital, phenobarbital, etc.) will depress most neuronal activity and are dubbed "nonselective," while benzodiazepines (diazepam, alprazolam, etc.) selectively depress neuron activity, which results in selective central nervous system segments. Most sedatives are fast-acting and are absorbed through the gastrointestinal tract, and due to their high potential for abuse, they should only be used as directed by a physician when prescribed.