Depressants: Barbiturates,  non-Barbiturate Sedatives, Tranquilizers


Tranquilizers (from the Latin word tranquillus, meaning "calm, serene") are drugs that produce calm without the drowsiness associated with the strong sedative-hypnotics.

Tranquilizers are the most prescribed of all drugs. Like the sedative-hypnotics they produce a sense of calm well-being at lower doses, but they are much milder. At very high doses they can cause effects similar to the stronger sedative-hypnotics, including unconsciousness. They are seldom fatal in overdoses, except when mixed with other drugs. Tranquilizers are commonly prescribed for mild psychiatric disorders such as anxiety, nervousness, and sleeplessness, and as muscle relaxants. One of the most widely known tranquilizers is Valium. Street names include: tranks, downers, Vs (Valium).

Misuse of depressant prescription drugs occurs most often when the user overdoses as a result of increased tolerance or mixture with alcohol or other drugs. Any combination of depressants, including any alcohol combination, multiply the depressant or "slow down" effects on the central nervous system.

Depressants are highly addictive. Medical supervision is necessary for withdrawal. Regular users should never stop taking these drugs unless under the care and supervision of a physician. An overdose can lead to coma, loss of consciousness, convulsion, hallucinations, and death. Chronic use can cause brain and liver damage.

An overdose requires immediate hospitalization. Do not attempt home remedies.

Babies born to mothers who abuse depressants during pregnancy may be physically dependent on the drugs and show withdrawal symptoms shortly after they are born. Birth defects and behavioral problems also may result.

Common brand names for barbiturates: seconal, tuinal, nembutal, amytal, phenobarbital

Common brand names for non-barbiturate sedatives: placidyl, chloral hydrate, doviden, noludar

Common brand names for tranquilizers: valium, librium, equanil, miltown, serax, tranxene