- 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) 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.