What are Depressants Used For?

What are Depressants Used For?

Depressant drugs and CNS depressants are used to treat certain health conditions such as panic disorders, anxiety, or insomnia. Although they may be routinely prescribed, chronic use of a depressant can lead to a tolerance, dependence, or addiction.

What are Depressants?

Depressants are a group of drugs that work on the central nervous system and leads to symptoms of drowsiness, anesthesia, coma, decreased inhibition and even death in severe cases. They also induce sleep which is why they are used for sleep disorders. CNS depressants are prescription drugs that include sedatives, tranquilizers, and hypnotics. These drugs work by slowing down brain activity, and are used to treat panic disorders, anxiety, acute stress reactions, mental illness, and sleep disorders such as insomnia.

Types of Depressants

Drugs that are classed as depressants include:

  • Benzodiazepines
  • Ethyl alcohol
  • Barbiturates

CNS Depressants

The most common types of CNS depressants are barbiturates and benzodiazepines. CNS depressants may cause drowsiness. Hypnotics can help induce sleep, sedatives are often prescribed to treat sleep disorders like insomnia and tranquilizers are prescription substances used to relieve muscle spasms or for treatment of anxiety.


Barbiturates are a type of CNS depressant that are often referred to as “downers.” These drugs can be used in small doses to treat anxiety or sleep issues. Taking CNS depressants will result in feelings of euphoria and relaxation.

Barbiturates used to be considered a safe depressant, but because of the potential risks they are no longer considered so. Because the potential for addiction and overdose is so high, Barbiturates are no longer typically used to treat disorders such as mental disorders and sleep problems.


Benzodiazepines are a group of CNS depressant drugs that were widely used to treat certain health conditions. When Benzos are taken for short periods of time, they have been known to be effective in treating anxiety or sleep disorders.

Due to the high likelihood for addiction, they are not used as frequently as other drugs to treat similar disorders. If you are currently taking Benzos, it is important to be under the medical supervision of your doctor while you take the drug.

Other Depressants

Ethyl Alcohol

Ethyl alcohol or known as “alcohol” is another depressant drug that is one of the most widely used substances in the world. Alcohol affects a person’s inhibitions, causes drowsiness, and reduces stress. Although alcohol is legal, it does come with certain dangers and risks.

Alcohol is a highly addictive substance. People may misuse alcohol and drink frequently. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines binge drinking as a pattern of alcohol consumption that brings blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08% or higher.

How Depressants Affect Your Body

How Depressants Affect Your Body | La Hacienda

Most CNS depressants increase activity in a chemical in the brain that inhibits brain activity called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA).

Depressants and the Central Nervous System

People who start taking a CNS depressant will begin to feel uncoordinated and sleepy for a short period of time until the body gets used to the side effects. Other effects from using depressants include:

  • Poor concentration
  • Slurred speech
  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Problems with movement and memory
  • Lightheadedness
  • Dizziness
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Dry mouth
  • Lowered blood pressure

If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the above symptoms, it is important to reach out to your doctor. Certain symptoms can be severe and lead to extreme breathing difficulties, in rare cases overdose or death.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Depressants can cause mild to severe withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking the drug. These symptoms can range from mild symptoms like increased heart rate, to severe symptoms such as seizures.

Depressant drug use in large doses may put someone at an increased risk for these symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms-which can begin as early as a few hours after the drug was last taken—include:

  • Agitation
  • Seizures
  • Insomnia
  • Hallucinations
  • Shakiness
  • Severe cravings
  • Breathing problems
  • Overdose
  • Overactive reflexes
  • Increased temperature with sweating, heart rate, or blood pressure

Withdrawal side effects can be extremely uncomfortable and potentially life-threatening, so if you or someone you know is struggling, please reach out for help at La Hacienda Treatment Center.

Depressant Drug Abuse

Depressant Drug Abuse | La Hacienda

Long term use of depressant drug use can result in addiction or abuse to the substances. If you take depressants in high doses, it will be more difficult to quit using these drugs, as opposed to if you take them in low doses and as prescribed.

When someone takes depressants frequently, they start to develop a tolerance to the substance, and this results in the need for a higher dose to achieve the same effect of the drug.

Most prescription CNS depressants come in liquid form, a pill, or a capsule that a person takes by mouth. Misuse of prescription CNS depressants means:

  • Taking medicine in higher doses, larger doses or other than prescribed
  • Taking medicine for the effect it causes — to get high
  • Taking someone else’s prescription medication

Addiction Help at La Hacienda Treatment Center

La Hacienda Treatment Center is a drug and alcohol addiction treatment facility that treats individuals who are struggling with substance abuse.

For over 4 decades, La Hacienda has been dedicated to serving the needs of alcohol and chemically dependent individuals and their families. We work closely with professionals to ensure successful recovery.

Our program is unlike any other in the country, and we focus on each individual client that we treat. Some of our services include therapeutic activities, nutrition counseling and a 24/7 detox unit.

La Hacienda is home of Serenity Hill, the skyview chapel overlooking one of our stunning Texas valleys. Serenity Hill is one of our campus’ most loved places to meditate. All healing takes place at this breathtaking, open-air gem on the hill.

If you would like more information on our programs, please contact us or visit the contact page on our website.