What are Depressants Used For?

What are Depressant Drugs?

Depressants are a family of drugs that work on the central nervous system (CNS). They can induce sleep, drowsiness, comas, and decreased inhibition or even death.
Sedatives, sleeping pills, tranquilizers, and hypnotics are among prescription drugs that are Central Nervous System depressants.
These drugs slow down brain activity and are used to treat panic disorders, anxiety, acute stress reactions, mental illness, and sleep disorders such as insomnia.
Although they may be routinely prescribed, chronic use can produce depression or lead to tolerance, dependence, or addiction.

What are the Types of Depressants?

Drugs in this class include:
Depressants | Pills | La Hacienda

How do Depressants Affect the Central Nervous System?

The most common types of CNS depressants are barbiturates and benzodiazepines. They may cause drowsiness.
Hypnotics such as these CNS depressants help users sleep. They are prescribed to treat disorders like insomnia, and tranquilizers relieve muscle spasms or help quell anxiety.


Barbiturates are a type of CNS depressant often called “downers.” These drugs come in multicolored tablets and capsules or in liquid form and can be used in small doses to treat seizures or anxiety or to help with sleep issues. These CNS depressants affect the nervous system to produce feelings of euphoria and relaxation.

First prescribed in the early 1900s, they became popular in the 1960s and 1970s, then evolved into recreational use of the drug to reduce inhibitions, decrease anxiety, and to treat unwanted side effects of illicit drug use.
Barbiturates used to be considered a safe depressant. Because the risk for addiction and overdose is so high, they are no longer typically used to treat mental disorders and sleep problems.


A CNS depressant once widely prescribed for certain health conditions, Benzodiazepines effectively treat anxiety or sleep disorders and relax muscles if taken as prescribed for short periods.
Developed in the 1950s, their use increased dramatically during the 1960s and early 1970s.
Due to a high likelihood of addiction, they are not used as frequently as other drugs to treat similar disorders. It is vital to take Benzodiazepines only under a doctor’s medical supervision.
They are also dangerous when used in combination with opioids. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that 16 percent of overdose deaths involving opioids in 2019 also involved benzodiazepines.

What are the Other Depressants?

Ethyl Alcohol

Ethyl alcohol, also known as simply “alcohol” is one of the oldest and most widely used manmade substances in the world.
Alcohol is used in alcoholic beverages, as a solvent, and in other substances. There is evidence that humans made beer 12,000 years ago.
Alcohol is highly addictive and affects a person\’s inhibitions, causes drowsiness, and reduces stress. Although it is legal, it comes with certain dangers and risks.
One of them is binge drinking, a dangerous use popular with young adults. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines it as a pattern of alcohol consumption that brings blood alcohol concentration to 0.08% or higher.
Central Nervous System | La Hacienda

Most CNS depressants increase activity of the chemical gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) that inhibits brain activity. This produces the drowsy and calming effect that makes the CNS depressants effective when used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders.

People who take a CNS depressant begin to feel uncoordinated and sleepy for a short period until their body gets used to the side effects. Other effects from using depressants include:
  • Poor concentration
  • Slurred speech
  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Slowed brain function
  • Lightheadedness
  • Dizziness
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Dry mouth
  • Lowered blood pressure
Anyone experiencing the above symptoms should contact their doctor. Severe symptoms can lead to extreme breathing difficulties and, in rare cases, overdose or death.
CNS Depressants | La Hacienda

What are the Withdrawal Symptoms of Depressants?

Depressants can cause mild to severe withdrawal symptoms, ranging from increased heart rate to seizures.
Depressant drug use in large doses may lead to an increased risk for these withdrawal symptoms, which can begin as early as a few hours after taking the drug:
  • 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 debilitating and life-threatening. If someone you know is struggling, please reach out for help at La Hacienda Treatment Center.

Depressant Drug Abuse

Long-term use of depressants can result in abuse of or addiction to the substances. If you take a depressant in high doses, ceasing to use the drugsis more difficult than taking it in low doses as prescribed.

With physical dependence, a person’s body adapts to the depressants and gets used to functioning with them.

When someone takes depressants frequently, they start to develop a tolerance to the substance, resulting in the need for a higher dose to achieve the same effect of the drug on their body.
Most CNS depressants come in prescription pills, liquids, or capsules taken by mouth.
Drug abuse of prescription CNS depressants means:
  • Taking depressants in higher doses, larger doses, or other than prescribed
  • Taking depressants to get high
  • Taking someone else’s prescription medications

Advice for the Use of Prescription Drugs

Faced with high-stress issues, whether personal like divorce or finances or cultural like the Covid-19 pandemic, people will treat anxiety with depressants or another drug.
Primary care physicians who know a person’s medical history are the best source of help in these cases. For informational and educational purposes, however, they can check established sources like the U.S. Food and Drug Administrations, NIDA, and NIAAA for advice.
La Hacienda Addiction Treatment Center | La Hacienda
Persons suffering from addiction to depressants and other substances can find life-changing care at La Hacienda Treatment Center.
A leading drug and alcohol addiction treatment center, La Hacienda is located on an attractive 40-acre campus in the Texas Hill Country. It is a healing space for clients who enter the grounds.
La Hacienda is not just about getting clean or sober from dangerous drugs and alcohol; it is much more than that. Staff and management believe that much of treatment for substance abuse is about the spiritual experience. They use medical and therapeutic modalities necessary to recover from emotional, cognitive, behavioral, and physical problems.
Patients at La Hacienda Treatment Center are always the number one priority and the focus of individualized, personal care.
The Joint Commission has awarded La Hacienda its Gold Seal of Approval for Behavioral Health Care.
If you would like more information on our treatment programs, please phone 844.260.6815 or visit our website.
Opioid painkillers crisis and drug abuse concept. Opioid and prescription medication addiction


Opiates are very useful medications when appropriately used to treat moderate to severe pain. They bind to opioid receptors on nerve cells in the central nervous system, suppressing pain signals to the brain.
Cannabis leaves. Growing Cannabis Sativa outdoors.


There is a great deal of public interest in the legalization of Cannabis. But what do you really know about the drug commonly called weed or pot?


Hypnotic or soporific drugs, also called sleeping pills, are a class of psychoactive drugs used primarily in the treatment of sleeplessness or as an anesthesia before surgery.
Wide-Eyed Sleepless Person | La Hacienda


Sedatives – including barbiturates, benzodiazepines, opioids and sleep-inducing drugs – are central nervous system depressants. Used extensively for medicinal properties, abusing these drugs can cause dependence and addiction.