depressantsWhat are depressants?

Depressants are drugs that slow down the normal function of the central nervous system (CNS) and suppress the neural activities in the brain. Depressants work by affecting the part of the brain that controls a person’s bodily functions like breathing and heartbeat. Depressants affect each person differently; response times to depressants can range from immediate to several hours.

Examples of depressants are alcohol, marijuana, inhalants and prescription drugs. The prescription drugs that affect the central nervous system are also referred to as downers, sedatives, hypnotics, minor tranquilizers, and anxiolytics or anti-anxiety medications.

Depressants include:

Depressants by Drug Types
Drug name >>> brand / trade names. Please note name of drugs may differ by country

  • Alcohol (ethanol)
    • Beer
    • Wine
    • Alcohol
  • Barbiturates
    • Aprobarbital >> Alurate
    • Amobarbital >> Amytal
    • Amylbarbial & Secobarbital >> Tuinal
    • Butabarbital >> Buticaps, Butisol, Butalan
    • Butarlbital >> Esgic, Fiorinal
    • Hexobarbital >> Sombulex
    • Mephobarbital >> Mebaral
    • Pentobarbital >> Nembutal
    • Phenobarbital >> Solfoton
    • Secobarbital >> Seconal
    • Thiopental >> Pentothal
  • Benzodiazepines
    • Alprazolam >> Xanax
    • Chlorazepate >> Tranxene
    • Chlordiazepoxide >> Librium
    • Clonazepam >> Klonopin, Rivotil
    • Diazepam >> Valium, Ducene
    • Estalozam >> ProSom
    • Flunitrazepam >> Rohypnol
    • Flurazepam >> Dalmadorm, Dalmane
    • Halazepam >> Paxipam
    • Lorazepan >> Ativan
    • Nitrazepam >> Alodorm, Mogadon
    • Oxazepam >> Alepam, Murelax, Serax, Serepax
    • Prazepam >> Centrax
    • Quazepam >> Doral
    • Temazepam >> Euhypnos, Normison, Restoril
    • Triazolam >> Halcion
  • Gamma Hydroxybutyrate (GHB)
    • Gamma butyrolactone (GBL)
    • and 1,4-butanediol are GHB analogues
  • Inhalents & Solvents
    • See Inhalants
  • Marijuana / Cannabis
    • Hash Oil
    • Hashish
  • Cannabinoids
    • Dronabinol >> Marinol
    • Nabilone >>Cesamet
    • Sativex
  • Others
    • Bromide salts
    • Chloral Hydrate >> Aquachloral, Aquachloral Supprettes, Noctec
    • Ethchlorvynol >> Placidyl
    • Glutethimide >> Doriden
    • Mandrax
    • Meprobamate >> Apo-Meprobamate, Equanil, Meprospan, Miltown, Trancot
    • Methaqualone >> Sopor, Quaalude
    • Methyprylon >> Noludar
    • Paradelhyde >> Paral

Why do people take depressants?

Depressants are prescribed by doctors to tranquilize and/or relieve anxiety, irritability, and tension; some may also be used to sedate or induce sleep.

Depressants are also known as

Anti-anxiety medications, Barbs, Blues, Blue devils, Downers/Downs, Fender Benders, Florinal, G.B.‘s, Green Dragons, Goofballs, Ludes, Mickey Finn, Rainbows, Reds, Red Devils, Sleepers, Tranqs, Tranquilizers, Quads, Yellows, Yellow Jackets, ... more

How are depressants taken?

Depressants are taken orally, through injection, or smoked.

What are the possible effects of depressant use?

  • Calm, relaxation
  • Lack of facial expression or animation.
  • Skin may feel cold and clammy
  • Altered senses, reduced anxiety,
  • Behaviour similar to alcohol intoxication
  • Staggering, stumbling, lack of coordination, slurred speech
  • Falling asleep (nodding), difficulty concentrating
  • Dilated pupils
  • Decreases body temperature and heart rate
  • Nausea, Increased perspiration
  • Depressants taken in combination with each other or with alcohol, have the potential to cause serious impairment or death.

Chronic / long term use of depressants may cause

  • Physical dependence
  • Loss of coordination in motor skills, slurred speech
  • Impaired judgment
  • Hallucinations, paranoia
  • Impaired memory
  • Psychotic episodes
  • Altered eyesight
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Decreased libido
  • Irregular menstrual cycle
  • Respiratory depression
  • Convulsions

What are the risks associated with pregnancy and depressants use?

  • Deficiencies in mental and motor development, birth defects, fine motor control.
  • Diminished balance and response time, learning and behavioral problems.
  • Newborns may show signs of drug dependence, and/or withdrawal symptoms.

Symptoms of depressants overdose

  • Shallow respiration
  • Clammy skin
  • Dilated pupils
  • Weak and rapid pulse
  • Coma
  • Death

Withdrawal symptoms

The withdrawal from depressants may be hazardous and/or potentially lethal. To stop abruptly or reduce the dosage of depressants the user may be at risk of convulsions, delirium, and death. Symptoms of withdrawal can last 8-10 days.

  • Anxiety
  • Delirium
  • Disorientation
  • Gastrointestinal upset
  • Hallucinations
  • Insomnia
  • Convulsions
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sweating
  • Weakness
  • Possible death
  • Tremors
  • Changes in perception (altered sensitivity to light, sound and smells)


Forest University Baptist Medical Center “Antidepressants Overdose” Best Health - Health Encyclopedia - Poison Reference [May 25, 2003]

Gant, Charles , M.D., Ph.D. “Using Antidepressants vs. Finding the Underlying Medical Causes of Depression” Healthy Depression Community [May 25, 2003]

Karasu, T. Byram, M.D. et al. “Part A: Treatment Recommendations for Patients with Major Depressive Disorder” from Practice Guideline for the Treatment of Patients With Major Depression. Revised April 2002. Amercian Psychiatric Asociation - Clinical Resources [May 25, 2003]

Lintner, Brenda, Dr. “Medical Methods of Treatment” The SANE Mental Health Series [May 26, 2003]

National Institute of Mental Health. National Institute of Health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “NIMH Medications” NIH Publication No. 02-3929 Revised April 2002, Reprinted September 2002. Medications. 4th edition. [March 20, 2003]

“Quick Guide to Antidepressants” (2001) Saneline : About Mental Illness [May 26, 2003]

The Royal College of Psychiatrists “Factsheets - Antidepressants” (2002) The Royal College of Psychiatrists’ Website [March 15, 2003]