Depressants Types & Examples and Their Side Effects

Not many people are aware that some of the chemicals they use to induce sleep or relieve stress are classified as depressants. One of the many examples of depressants commonly used is alcohol, which can depress the central nervous system. Other popular downers include tranquilizers, sedatives and anxiolytics. Although some of these are prescribed by doctors to their patients, some are recreational substances that are abused by people without knowing the risks involved.

What Are Depressants?

Depressants are drugs that slow down or depress your body’s function, particularly your central nervous system (CNS). Because of these relaxing or quieting effects, they are often called downers. Depressants can be addictive. People who use them regularly often develop tolerance to these drugs, which means that one will need larger doses of a drug to obtain the same desired effects. This can also make the user dependent on the use of depressants to keep them feeling relaxed, but it also increases their risk of abuse and drug overdose.

Types and Examples of Depressants

There are four main types of CNS depressants:

  1. Alcohol

Ethanol or ethyl alcohol is the active ingredient found inwine, liquors or distilled spirits, and beer. This clear and colorless chemical is a depressant drug that is most widely consumed in the United States. It is also widely abused and its consumption is linked to many diseases. There are many beverages that contain alcohol in various concentrations, but in general, each serving of the following drinks contain the same amount of alcohol:

  • 5 oz of table wine (12% alcohol by volume)
  • 12 oz beer (5% by volume)
  • 1.5 oz (equivalent to one shot) of 80-proof liquor (40% by volume)
  • 12 oz wine cooler (5% by volume)
  1. Barbiturates

These are sedatives or hypnotic drugs that are medically used to treat seizures or to relieve mild anxiety. At present there are around 12 kinds of barbiturates medically prescribed in the US.

  1. Benzodiazepines

These popularly used drugs include Valium, Xanax, and Librium. They are frequently clinically prescribed to induce sleep, sedate, relieve anxiety, prevent seizures, and relax the muscles. However, these depressant drugs have a high potential for abuse.

  1. Opioids

Strictly speaking, opioids (also called narcotic drugs) are not CNS depressants. They can cause a slowing down of certain brain function, but they can also stimulate certain areas of the CNS. These depressants are classified more correctly as narcotics including codeine and heroin. Marijuana is similar in this case.

Common Examples of Depressants Being Abused

Drug Name

Chemical

Classification

Forms

Alcohol

ethanol

depressant

liquid

Barbiturates

various

barbiturate

capsule

Codeine

(5alpha,6alpha)-7, 8-Didehydro-4,5-epoxy-3-methoxy-17-methylmorphinan-6-ol

narcotic

liquid/capsule/tablet

Oxycodone

Dihydrohydroxycodeinone

semisynthetic opioid

tablet

Hydrocodone

4,5α-epoxy-3-methoxy-17-methylmorphinan-6-one

synthetic narcotic

syrup/tablet/ capsule

Heroin

diacetylmorphine

narcotic

powder/tar-

like substance

Ketamine

(±)-2-(2-Chlorophenyl)-2-(methylamino)

cyclohexanone

anesthetic

powder

Phencyclidine

phencyclidine

anesthetic

powder/pill/

capsule

Tranquilizers

benzodiazepines

depressant

tablet

Rohypnol

flunitrazepam

depressant

tablet

Gamma-Hydroxybutyrate

4-Hydroxybutanoic acid

depressant

liquid

How Do They Work?

Most depressant drugs act on your body by regulating brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. One example of these neurotransmitters is gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which regulates brain and nerve cell excitability. These brain chemicals facilitate communication between nerve and brain cells. Depressants act by binding to receptor molecules, thus inhibiting the transmission of impulses. The result leads to a calming or drowsy effect.

Effects and Risks of Depressants

Effects

These examples of depressants often reduce anxiety and increase drowsiness and sedation, produce pain relief, but can impair memory. Sometimes they can also induce temporary euphoria, feelings of dissociation, muscle relaxation, anti-seizure effects, and even anesthesia. However, when used in large amounts, they can be dangerous and produce life-threatening effects such as reduction in heart rate, lowering of blood pressure, and respiratory depression.

Common short-term effects of depressants:

  • Excesss drowsiness
  • Poor concentration
  • Reduction in heart rate and breathing
  • Slurred speech
  • Low blood pressure
  • Fatigue and confusion
  • Impairment of memory, judgment, and coordination

Common long-term effects of depressants:

  • Reduced sexual function
  • Chronic sleep problems
  • Dependence and addiction
  • Respiratory depression and death

Additional Risks

Your body may react to these drugs in various ways. You may experience unpleasant effects like hangovers, nausea, dehydration, fatigue, and depression, especially if the drugs are taken improperly.

If you take too much alcohol, for example, within a short period, you may experience alcohol poisoning, which can lead to severe vomiting, unconsciousness (black-out), or even death.

Indirect risks that may occur with the use of depressants include slowing of reactions and reduced coordination, which can increase your risk for accidents, such as alcohol-related driving incidents.

 
 
Current time: 11/18/2017 03:38:27 am (America/New_York) Memory usage: 1813.45KB