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Depressants, or downers, are often prescribed by doctors to treat a variety of health conditions including anxiety and panic attacks, tension, acute stress reactions, and sleep disorders. When given in high doses, depressants may act as anesthesia.

Often referred to as sedatives and tranquilizers, depressants are substances that can slow normal brain function. Most depressants reduce brain function and enables communication between brain cells.

While different depressants work in unique ways, they produce a drowsy or calming effect that can help those suffering from anxiety or sleep disorders. Because they can produce a state of intoxication, they have a high potential for abuse.

Examples of Depressants

  • Barbiturates are a type of depressant often prescribed to promote sleep.
  • Benzodiazepines are a type of depressant prescribed to relieve anxiety.

Street Names for Depressants

Benzos, xanies, xani-bars, xani-bombs, and roofies

Short-term effects:

  • Dilated pupils and slurred speech
  • Relaxed muscles
  • Feelings of intoxication
  • Loss of motor coordination
  • Fatigue
  • Respiratory depression
  • Sensory changes
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Dizziness
  • Sedation
  • Drowsiness
  • Fever

Long Term Effects

  • Poor concentration or feelings of confusion
  • Impaired judgment
  • Lowered inhibitions
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Confusion
  • Irritability