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NOPE Task Force – Narcotics Overdose Prevention & Education


  • Depressants are chemical agents to induce sleep, relieve stress and allay anxiety
  • Alcohol is one of the oldest and most universal agents used for these purposes.
  • Hundreds of substances have been developed that produce central nervous system depression. They are referred to as Downers, sedatives, hypnotics minor tranquilizers, anxiolytics and anti-anxiety medications.
  • Barbiturates (Amyatal®, Pentobarbital, Secobarabital)
  • Benzodiazepines, (Xanax®, Librium®, Valium®, Ativan®, Klonopin®)
  • Flunitrazepan (Rohypnol®)
  • Gamma Hydroxybutyric Acid (GHB).
  • Effects include: insomnia and anxiety, tremors, seizures and delirium.
  • Unlike the withdrawal syndrome seen with most other drugs of abuse, withdrawal from depressants can be life threatening.


  • Like cocaine or marijuana, alcohol is a drug. It can alter moods, cause changes in the body and become habit-forming.
  • The most widely used drug among teenagers, and Americans in general, is alcohol.
  • Drinking is the third leading cause of death in the US after heart disease and cancer.
  • Alcohol is a factor in well over half of the fire deaths, drowning, injuries traffic fatalities and murders in the U.S.
  • Long-term use of alcohol can result in loss of memory, high blood pressure, enlarged heart, liver ailments (severe swelling, hepatitis, and cirrhosis), impotency and ulcers, as well as alcoholism.


  • Barbiturates produce a wide spectrum of central nervous system depression, from mild sedation to coma, and have been used as sedatives, hypnotics, anesthetics and anticonvulsants.
  • Barbiturates are classified as ultra short, short intermediate and long-acting.
  • Abusers prefer short-acting and intermediate-acting barbiturates that include amobarbital (amytal®), pentobarbital (Nembutal®), secobarbital (Seconal®), and tuinal (an amobarbital/secobarbital combination product.)


  • The benzodiazepine family of depressants is used therapeutically to produce sedation, induce sleep and relieve anxiety and muscle spasms and to prevent seizures.
  • Long-lasting includes: alprazolam (Xanax®), chlordiazepoxide (Librium®), diazepam (Valium®), halazepam (Paxipam®), lorzepam (ativan®), clonazepam (Klonopin®)
  • Repeated use leads to tolerance and dependence - Addiction
  • Effects include: amnesia, hostility, irritability and vivid or disturbing dreams.
  • Withdrawal symptoms are similar to that of alcohol and may require hospitalization.
  • Abrupt cessation of Benzodiazepines is not recommended.

GHB (Gamma-hydroxybutyrate)

  • GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyrate) is a powerful central nervous system depressant that the human body produces itself.
  • A synthetic version of GHB was developed in the 1920's as an anesthetic.
  • Individuals abuse synthetic GHB because of its euphoric and sedative effects.
  • GHB has been used by sexual predators to incapacitate their victims.
  • GHB is typically sold either as a white powder or as a clear liquid and taken orally.
  • The drug is primarily used by young people. GHB use among high school students is a particular concern.
  • Risks include nausea, vomiting delusions, depression, dizziness, hallucinations, seizures respiratory distress, amnesia, coma and death.
  • Mixing the drug with alcohol is particularly dangerous because alcohol enhances the drug's depressant effects.
  • Sustained use of GHB can lead to addiction.