Depressants are psychoactive drugs  that slow down the activity of the central nervous system, which reduces a person’s alertness and slows down their breathing and heart rate. In other words the individual is in more of a relaxed state. Medical providers tend to prescribe the depressant drugs for situations that include anxiety or sleep concerns.  The most common form of depressants today include the following; alcohol, benzodiazepines (minor tranquilizers), and barbiturates. Individuals also use depressants to self medicate to help them cope through concerns involving depression, anxiety, and insomnia.

What are the effects of Depressant?

Depending on the depressant drug the individual consumes, the effects can be different. Here are some of the common depressants used and what the effects of their use can bring onto the individual;

Alcohol is one of the most widely used drugs in the world. Due to the initial positive behavioral effects of alcohol, many people don’t realize that the substance is a CNS depressant. Alcohol can actually increase anxiety and stress rather than reduce it, as well as cause negative reactions such as anger, aggression, and depression. Chronic alcohol use can also lead to dependence, addiction, and withdrawal symptoms when attempting to stop usage of the drug.

Barbiturates, or “downers,” are a type of CNS depressant that is typically prescribed to help with anxiety, tension, and sleep disorders. These drugs can generate a feeling of euphoria and relaxation even when taken in small doses, which encourages abuse in some. Because the potential for addiction and overdose is so high, the drugs are no longer commonly used to treat anxiety and sleep problems.

Benzodiazepines, or “benzos”, are central nervous system depressants that are prescribed to treat anxiety, sleep disorders, convulsions, and other acute stress reactions. Common benzos include Valium, Xanax, and Ativan. Benzodiazepines cause the individual to experience the sleep-inducing, sedative, and muscle-relaxing feelings. Due to this effect, an individual can develop a tolerance leading to a dependence to the benzodiazepines.

Signs and Symptoms of Depressant Drug Use

Depressants affect one of the brain’s neurotransmitters which in turn causes the individual’s brain activity to slow down helps them to relax more. Signs that someone is under the effects of depressants include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Headache
  • Lack of self-control
  • Dizziness
  • Slurred speech and blurred vision
  • Impaired judgment and mental functioning
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Memory loss


Side Effects of the Use of Depressant Drug Use

When people engage in the use of depressants over a long period of time or even in the short term, it creates multiple side effects some of which could be life threatening. One concern with the use of depressants is that over time the individual can develop a tolerance to them which can cause individuals to become more dependent on them and cause concerns when trying to stop the use.

Becoming addicted to these drugs can be difficult to overcome and when the individual is taking too much at once, or using depressants with alcohol or other drugs, this can slow their heart and breathing enough to cause death. Someone who is dependent on depressants can also have dangerous withdrawal symptoms when trying to quit. Depending on the type of depressant the individual is taking, the withdrawal can be life threatening, this is considered higher in an individual who is engaging in barbiturates more than benzodiazepines. However, barbiturates and benzodiazepines, both can cause symptoms that are more serious than some other types of drugs. Including seizures, tremors, psychosis, nausea, and insomnia to name a few.


Other side effects of depressant use includes

  • impaired sexual function
  • insomnia and other sleep problems
  • breathing problems
  • convulsions (similar to seizures)
  • depression and other mental health issues


Treatment For Depressants

Attending treatment for Depressant use is very important. Due to the nature of the withdrawal the individual can experience it is highly recommended that the individual attend a medically monitored detox facility. Once completing the medically monitored program a recommendation can be made for the individual to engage in a Counseling program. Therapy can be engaged through both inpatient and outpatient programs. Ranging from art therapy to cognitive behavioral therapy approaches. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, however tends to be the most commonly used for this type of treatment due to the fact it focuses on modifying the person’s thinking, expectations, and behaviors while improving ways to cope with life’s stresses.