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Drugs: What Are Depressant Drugs?

In this article, we will discuss what depressant drugs are, the impact they can have on your life and body, and what to do if you become addicted. 

What Are Depressants?

Depressants, also known as downers, depress the nervous system and reduce brain stimulation. Prescription depressants can be a powerful tool for managing various conditions; however, abusing depressants can be highly detrimental or even fatal. 

Common Types of Depressant Drugs

There is a multitude of depressant drugs available on the market today, and while some require a prescription, others do not. Keep reading for a breakdown of the most common kinds of depressants and the effects that they can have on the body and mind. 


Alcohol is one of the most widely used drugs in the world, and it is also one of the most commonly used and readily available depressants. Alcohol’s effects on the body and mind vary widely depending on how much you drink and how frequently you drink. While the initial effects of alcohol on your mind and body may be positive, you could feel relaxed and uninhibited, but the more alcohol you consume, the more likely you will experience negative side-effects like depression, anxiety, anger, or aggression. The excessive use of alcohol can lead to addiction, severe health problems, and withdrawal symptoms when you attempt to reduce your consumption.


Also known as downers, a doctor typically prescribes barbiturates to remedy sleep disorders, tension, and anxiety. Barbiturates are not commonly used anymore because they are highly addictive and have a high overdose rate. Even small doses of these downers can produce a high effect, creating a sense of euphoria and relaxation. Additionally, they can negatively impact sleep patterns because they suppress vital REM sleep.  Common barbiturates include:
  • Meberal
  • Luminol
  • Seconal
  • Nembutal
  • Amytal


Also known as benzos, benzodiazepines are often prescribed to treat insomnia and anxiety because of their muscle-relaxing, sleep-inducing, sedative properties. Benzodiazepines are considered a safer alternative to barbiturates, as they are less addictive and there is a lower risk of overdose. Although they are less addictive than barbiturates, there is still the risk of addiction and withdrawal when benzodiazepines are used long-term.  Common benzodiazepines include:
  • Ativan
  • Xanax
  • Valium

Sleeping Pills

Used to treat insomnia, depressant sleeping pills stimulate the GABA transmitters in your brain, although differently from other depressant drugs. Sleeping pills do not reduce anxiety, and they are less addictive than benzodiazepines, although there is still the risk of addiction with long-term use.  Common sleeping pills include:
  • Lunesta
  • Sonata
  • Ambien


The most commonly prescribed pain medications all over the world are opioids. Opioids vary in strength, and they are highly addictive. Additionally, opioid overdose is common and takes thousands of lives every year.  Common opioids include:
  • Hydrocodone
  • Codeine
  • Methadone
Other common opioids include different types of prescription medication and even heroin. 

What Can Depressants Do to Your Mind? 

Depressants work by increasing GABA neurotransmitters in the brain. This increase in transmitters reduces brain activity and produces a calm, relaxed, drowsy effect.  Common side-effects of depressants on the mind include:
  • Confusion
  • Lack of concentration
  • Lack of inhibition
  • Euphoria
  • Relaxation
  • Memory loss
The effects of long-term depressant use on the body include:
  • Addiction
  • Depression or suicidal thoughts
  • Hypersomnia
  • Insomnia
  • Chronic fatigue

What Can Depressants Do to Your Body?

Depressants relax the nervous system, meaning that users feel calm and relaxed not just mentally but physically. This decrease in brain activity can affect various functions all over the body. Common side-effects of depressants on the body include:
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Lack of coordination
  • Slowed pulse
  • Slowed breathing
  • Slowed reaction time
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Blacking out
  • Dilated pupils
The effects of long-term depressant use on the body include:
  • Physical dependence on the drug
  • Weight gain
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Difficulty breathing

Depressants and Addiction

As previously stated, depressants can be highly addictive. Over time, long-term users may develop a tolerance for a depressant drug and begin to take higher and higher doses in an attempt to experience the same effects they felt when initially taking the medication. This behavior is extremely dangerous, as it is harmful to your health and could result in seizures, respiratory depression, and even overdose.  Some of the most significant indicators of depressant abuse are taking prescription depressants without the suggestion of a medical professional, taking someone else’s prescription, or taking a higher dosage than prescribed by your doctor. Additionally, mixing depressants with other depressant drugs, stimulant drugs, or alcohol for increased effects is a big sign of abuse and could result in severe harm or even death.  Other common signs of depressant abuse include:
  • Reduced energy
  • A dip in productivity
  • Depression or apathy
  • The inability to stop using a depressant
  • Withdrawal symptoms when you go without the depressant
  • Dramatic mood swings
  • Erratic or secretive behavior
Be aware that abusing depressant drugs can cause serious, life-altering complications. If you believe you could be addicted to depressants, get help before it is too late. The first step in recovering from a depressant drug addiction is to detox. Detoxing can be very dangerous and should be done in a facility with close medical supervision. Drug abuse often coincides with psychological issues such as depression or anxiety. In a reputable treatment facility, detoxing and rehabilitation will be combined with behavioral therapy to address the root of your substance abuse issue. 

Contact Ardu Recovery Center for Professional Help

If you or a loved one are struggling with an addiction to depressant drugs, it is time to seek expert help. At Ardu Recovery Center, we take both a medicinal and holistic approach to drug and alcohol rehabilitation because we believe that wellness is both mental and physical. We offer a wide array of holistic services and methods so that you can do what works best for you personally, giving you a higher chance of success. Reach out to us today to schedule a tour of our beautiful rehabilitation center in Provo, Utah, and see if Ardu could be a good fit for you.