Depressants (barbiturates, benzodiazepines)
Depressants will put you to sleep, relieve anxiety and muscle spasms, and prevent seizures. Sedative-hypnotic drugs — commonly called “depressants” — slow down or “depress” the activity of the brain. Alcohol is the most common depressant. (Refer to alcohol link for information) As with alcohol, depressants can cause symptoms during intoxication. These symptoms can include slurred speech, problems with coordination or walking, inattention, and memory difficulties. In extreme cases, the person may lapse into a stupor or coma.
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Barbiturates are older drugs and include butalbital (Fiorina), phenobarbital, Pentothal, Seconal, and Nembutal. A person can rapidly develop dependence on and tolerance to barbiturates, meaning a person needs more and more of them to feel and function normally. This makes them unsafe, increasing the likelihood of coma or death.
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Benzodiazepines were developed to replace barbiturates, though they still share many of the undesirable side effects including tolerance and dependence. Some examples are Valium, Xanax, Halcion, Ativan, Klonopin, and Restoril. Rohypnol is a benzodiazepine that is not manufactured or legally marketed in the United States, but it is used illegally. Lunesta, Ambien, and Sonata are sedative-hypnotic medications approved for the short-term treatment of insomnia that share many of the properties of benzodiazepines. Other CNS depressants include meprobamate, methaqualone (Quaalude), and the illicit drug GHB. Common street names for benzodiazepines are Barbs, Benzos, Downers, Georgia Home Boy, GHB, Grievous Bodily Harm, Liquid X, Nerve Pills, Phennies, R2, Reds, Roofies, Rophies, Tranks, and Yellows.
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