Depressants are used to help control sleep disorders, anxiety, relaxation aids, and other stress related conditions. The are referred to as downers and tranquilizers and they have a slowing down effect on the central nervous system. Many of these drugs are available over the counter in mild forms or as prescription drugs.

Two types of depressants are known for their history of abused barbiturates and benzodiazepines.

Barbiturates produce an effect much like alcohol intoxication the symptoms of use such as slurred speech, stumbling, and impaired judgment. Physically dependency on barbiturates can happen rapidly. The body adjusts quickly to the drugs us and develops a tolerance. The tolerance the body builds leads directly to a physical and mental dependency or addiction to barbiturates. This is also very dangerous to the individual in what they consider an effective dose – one that is required to achieve a state they wish – may not be all that far away from a lethal dose.

Benzodiazepines have a lesser addiction potential and have been considered a “safer” depressant that barbiturates. Barbiturates have replaced many of the prescription depressants being written. However it has been identified that benzodiazepines have a similar effect on the central nervous system as barbiturates, that cause many of the symptoms and dangers to the body. Prolonged use of benzodiazepines can cause physical and mental dependency, however the large doses rarely prove fatal. Benzodiazepines can become dangerous to the body when used in combination of other drugs and with alcohol.

Withdrawal effects and symptoms are very similar with most of the depressant classified drugs. The symptoms can produce mild withdrawal symptoms such as insomnia, anxiety, and irritation to very severe symptoms such as seizures and delirium. Withdrawal from a depressant with severe symptoms can be life threatening and medical assistance should be acquired. When depressant addiction and a mental health issue or in a dual-diagnosis situation, addictioncounseling and assistance in a safe environment, such as a drug rehab program, is recommended.

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