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Some heroin users may take them either to supplement their drug or to substitute for it.Stimulant users may take sedatives to calm excessive jitteriness.Lorazepam is one such pharmacological agent that can cause anterograde amnesia.Intensive care unit patients who receive higher doses over longer periods, typically via IV drip, are more likely to experience such side effects.Malcolm Lader at the Institute of Psychiatry in London estimates the incidence of these adverse reactions at about 5%, even in short-term use of the drugs.The paradoxical reactions may consist of depression, with or without suicidal tendencies, phobias, aggressiveness, violent behavior and symptoms sometimes misdiagnosed as psychosis.Advances in pharmacology have permitted more specific targeting of receptors, and greater selectivity of agents, which necessitates greater precision when describing these agents and their effects: Doctors often administer sedatives to patients in order to dull the patient's anxiety related to painful or anxiety-provoking procedures.Although sedatives do not relieve pain in themselves, they can be a useful adjunct to analgesics in preparing patients for surgery, and are commonly given to patients before they are anaesthetized, or before other highly uncomfortable and invasive procedures like cardiac catheterization, colonoscopy or MRI.

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Barbiturate overdose is a factor in nearly one-third of all reported drug-related deaths.In the event of an overdose or if combined with another sedative, many of these drugs can cause unconsciousness (see hypnotic) and even death.There is some overlap between the terms "sedative" and "hypnotic".Many sedatives can be misused, but barbiturates and benzodiazepines are responsible for most of the problems with sedative use due to their widespread recreational or non-medical use.People who have difficulty dealing with stress, anxiety or sleeplessness may overuse or become dependent on sedatives.

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