Depressants are substances that depress the activity of the central nervous system. They are often referred to as “downers” because of their sedative, hypnotic and tranquilizing effects. There are both legal and illegal depressants.Alcohol is the most common legal depressant. Others that are legal such as Methaqualone, Chloral Hydrate, and Glutethimide are often prescribed medications used to induce sleep, relieve stress, and subdue anxiety.

Another view is: A depressant,  is a drug that lowers neurotransmission levels, which is to depress or reduce arousal or stimulation, in various areas of the brain. Depressants are also occasionally referred to as “downers” as they lower the level of arousal when taken. Stimulants or “uppers” increase mental and/or physical function, hence the opposite drug class of depressants is stimulants, not antidepressants. When these drugs are used, effects often include ataxia, anxiolysis, pain relief, sedation or somnolence, and cognitive/memory impairment, as well as in some instances euphoria, dissociation, muscle relaxation, lowered blood pressure or heart rate, respiratory depression, and anticonvulsant effects, and even complete anesthesia or death at high doses.



  1. How can I help? (Nemours Foundation)  
    … How Can I Help a Friend Who Cuts?   KidsHealth > For Teens >   Print A A A … How Can Someone Quit?  
  2. Fact Sheet (Drug Enforcement Administration) – PDF  
    Drug Fact Sheet   Overview Includes barbiturates (barbs), benzodiazepines (benzos) and sedative-hypnotics.
  3. Commonly Abused Drugs Charts  From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute on Drug Abuse)  
    … in treating prescription opioid addiction. Prescription Sedatives (Tranquilizers,) Medications that slow brain activity, which makes them … shared needles. In Combination with Alcohol Masks the depressantaction of alcohol, increasing risk of alcohol overdose; …
  4. Improper Use of Medications  NIHSeniorHealth (National Institute on Drug Abuse)  
    … improper use of prescription and illicit drugs. Painkillers,  Stimulants The types of prescription medications most … any age are painkillers (such as Vicodin, OxyContin),   Xanax, Valium, and stimulants (such as …
  5. The way that sodium oxybate works to treat …
  6. Prescription Drugs  From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute on Drug Abuse)  
    … Marijuana MDMA (Ecstasy or Molly) Methamphetamine (Meth) Prescription  Medications Prescription Drugs Prescription Pain Medications (Opioids) Prescription …

Other Sources

Drug Identification Guide

CDC Facts

CDC Addiction Info

CDC Overdose Stats

CDC Substance Treatment

Whitehouse Drug Free Communities

Samhsa Workplace Programs

Drug Free

Federal Register Codification

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