Drugs are used to treat peoples unwanted symptoms and make them feel better. There are medicines for physical health as well as mental health, and it may get tricky when trying to categorize them. Depressants are a particular category of drug that aims to reduce the symptoms of mental illness.  Read more to learn about the dangers of depressants addiction.

How Do Depressants Work?

Depressant drugs work by reducing the stimulation in a persons central nervous system (CNS). By doing this, it slows the brains neurotransmission levels (the chemicals that coordinate the communication between the brain cells) and leaves the person feeling drowsy and/or calmer than they were before.

What Are the Uses of Depressants?

Depressants are used for many different reasons including:depressants abuse

    • Anxiety
    • Sedation
    • Sleeping problems
    • Panic attacks
    • Pain relief
    • Seizure problems
    • Stress

These drugs work by calming the CNS (Central Nervous System).  Many mental illnesses can be improved by depressants.

What Are the Different Types of Depressants?

The most well-known depressants are alcohol, benzodiazepines, opioids/opiates, marijuana, and barbiturates. They may also be known as downers.”  Each of these drugs can result in depressants addiction if not used properly:


Even though alcohol is legal for people 18 and older, it contains ethanol, a chemical that causes a person to become intoxicated. It causes the heart muscle to stretch and drop over long periods of time and increases a persons risk for high blood pressure.

Alcohol may weaken the immune system and increase a persons chances of having a stroke. Since alcohol can calm anxious people, depression is a common adverse effect that can lead to suicidal thoughts and death.

Alcohol is used by many people to escape stress.  Others believe drinking helps them have more fun. While this may be true, the long-term side effects can be serious.


Benzodiazepines are commonly prescribed to people who have sleeping problems, but they can also be given to prevent muscle spasms, seizure disorders, and even anxiety before surgeries.

Examples of these would be Valium, Ativan, Xanax, Serax, and Librium. Benzodiazepines are addictive when abused and should only be used for short periods of time.

Opioids and opiates

Doctors prescribe opiates or opioids to treat pain.  Unfortunately, they can be highly addictive when used frequently. These drugs stimulate specific parts of the brain to produce pain-relieving effects.

Since these drugs can calm the body, certain health factors may arise such as heart palpitations and shallow breathing. Confusion, chills, and sweating are also adverse effects of opioids and opiates.

Withdrawal symptoms are very common when taking yourself off of these drugs because of the bodys physical and mental craving for them. The body begins to feel better with the medication and causes it to have a difficult time weaning off.


Marijuana is classified as a depressant because it causes sedation, relaxation, and reduced levels of alertness.  Although marijuana is a recreational drug.  However, it can calm the body and alleviate pain when used medically.

This drug is made from the dried leaves and flowers of the hemp plant (also called Cannabis). It affects the parts of the brain that deals with judgment, emotions, memory, and self-control.


Barbiturates are a type of depressant that can be taken independently. They treat seizure disorders and provide pain relief.  Also, barbiturates can be taken with anesthesia to aid in sedation for surgery.

Although these drugs can calm the body, there are many adverse effects that can stem from it like pregnancy risks, depressants addiction and dependence, overdose and death, and heart problems.

Muscle relaxers

Muscle relaxers are prescribed to relax the bodys muscles (hence the name). They are classified as a depressant because they leave the body calm and the mind drowsy. They loosen the tightness in the body as well as ease the tension from previous injuries that a person may have had.  


These drugs are prescribed to control an intensified mood of someone who has bipolar mania. Antipsychotics mainly treat mental illness issues such as hallucinations, paranoia, or delusions.  For patients with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or severe depression and anxiety, antipsychotics can lessen the symptoms in times of intense emotions.

What are the Short and Long Term Effects of Depressants?

    • Short Term: Dilated pupils, reduced brain function, memory problems, fatigue, drowsiness, dizziness, slurred speech, incoordination, opposite effects (aggression, irritability, etc.).
    • Short term effects of depressants usually impair a persons judgment and qualities of that nature.
    • Long Term: Severe depression, sexual problems, chronic fatigue, breathing problems, dependence, addiction, coma, sedation, overdose, death.
    • Long term effects of depressants can start with accidental sedation and end in death. Depressants addiction or dependence are possible.

Make sure that you and your loved ones are using depressants properly to avoid the negative consequences.