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Depressant Substance Abuse

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When Depressant Abuse Develops into an Addiction

Depressants, also known as downers, are one of the most commonly abused categories of drugs. Depressants drugs lower neurotransmission levels and lower stimulation in various areas of the brain. The most widely used depressants today are alcohol, opioids, and benzodiazepines. Alcohol itself is a strong depressant and one that has been used by humans for centuries.

Many individuals who abuse depressant drugs are looking for the calming effects that the drugs have. Over time, they will chase the effects of depressants at any costs. Physical and psychological dependence can occur rapidly, and an individual can find themselves having serious withdrawal symptoms if they are unable to procure their depressant of choice. Individuals who abuse depressants can also find themselves having uncontrollable mood swings or becoming uncharacteristically aggressive towards others.

For many, there have been drug-induced anxiety, psychosis, and mood disorders. When a depressant drug has taken over an individual’s life, it may take time for that individual to seek out help to end the cycle of depressant abuse. Any individual who finds themselves abusing depressants such as alcohol, opioids, benzos, and barbiturates, should start in a detox facility where they are safely medically supervised. After detox, individualized substance abuse treatment can drastically improve lives. All it takes a bit of determination, the ability to work for things to get better, and the strength and resolve to get started on the road to recovery.

Depressants FAQ

Depressants, or central depressants, are downers ranging from alcohol, to Xanax, marijuana, valium, clonazepam, and many more. Opiates like heroin have very similar “downer” effects as depressants. However, they are not technically depressants.

Some common street names include Benzos, Tranks, Downers, Blue Vs, Bars, Z-Bars, Handlebars, Footballs, K-Pins, Pins, and more.

Some withdrawal effects of depressants are shaking, dizziness, vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, nausea, anxiety, and hallucinations. Withdrawal symptoms may be different depending on what depressants were used, how long they were abused, and how often.

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Commonly Abused Depressant Drugs


Alcohol is the most widely known and used depressant, often being the first type of depressant that anyone uses due to its widespread social acceptance and availability. For some, alcohol does lead to experimentation with other drugs due to negatively affected judgment during intoxication; daily alcohol use leads to physical dependence, with difficult and potentially fatal consequences if the individual decides to stop drinking cold turkey at home without medical supervision.


Benzodiazepine is a term used to describe depressant drugs such as a Xanax (alprazolam), Valium (diazepam), Ativan (lorazepam), and Klonopin (clonazepam). Benzodiazepines are medications that cause mild to severe depression of the central nervous system and sedation. Benzodiazepine medications have a high potential for abuse but are used medically to treat anxiety, insomnia, and other types of disorders. Withdrawal from benzodiazepines presents potentially fatal challenges as physical dependence sets in after months or years of abuse.


Barbiturates fall into the category of sedative-hypnotic drugs. Barbiturates act on the central nervous system as a depressant and can produce a range of mild sedation to total anesthesia. Barbiturate drugs in their generic form such as amobarbital, butabarbital, pentobarbital, and phenobarbital are commonly prescribed to help in the aid of anxiety and sleep. The use of barbiturates has been in decline since the 1970s with the creation of benzodiazepines.

Medical Detox

Effective medical detox experts focus on taking the discomfort out of the detox and withdrawal process. We understand that each patient has different needs. Patients can usually choose to either undergo medical detox or social detox. You deserve an effective and realistic addiction treatment plan. Learn More

Intensive Outpatient

Different outpatient programs, such as intensive outpatient and evening intensive outpatient programs, can help patients receive treatment while living at home. Connecting you to a safe and therapeutic program is our top priority. Learn More

Residential Treatment

Residential facilities are the perfect place to start your journey to recovery. At high-quality residential treatment centers, expert clinicians and medical providers assess your needs and provide an individualized plans tailored to your needs. Learn More

Sign, Symptoms & Common Behaviors of Depressant Abuse

The signs and symptoms that an individual can show when they are abusing depressant drugs can be quite evident and easy to point out. Most depressant drugs will make an individual seem sleepy or out of it, depending on what type depressant and how much they are using. Those who frequently abuse depressants will always seem drowsy and may have coordination problems and memory loss.

Some depressants, such as opioids, can cause pinpoint dilation, while others, like alcohol, can cause pupils to dilate. An individual may have slurred speech and difficulty holding a conversation. Depressant addiction can quickly take a toll on an individual’s life and they may pursue the depressant drugs to no end, regardless of consequences.

For individuals who are persistent in their abuse of depressant drugs: overdose or other potentially fatal consequences are certainly a reality. And depending on which drug is used— withdrawal symptoms are inevitable when the individual reaches a point where they are unable to procure more of their preferred depressant.

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Learn the Dangers of Abusing Depressant Drugs From Unbiased Resources

ABTRS believes in the importance of using reputable sources when communicating with you. It can be very uncomfortable discussing a cocaine addiction with a doctor without feeling shame. That stigma associated with addiction is what keeps people stuck in their active addiction with no one to turn to. it is vital for ABTRS to offer information that you can count on from a source that is trusted with your best interest in mind.

We have crafted all our information, statistics, and web content utilizing sources that are unbiased, not funded by organizations that could benefit from certain outcomes, and proven or tested to be effective for substance abuse treatment. Below are the sources used to construct the content on our website and all ABTRS printed material. We pride ourselves on offering anyone who is seeking treatment with knowledge from reputable sources that are up to date and relevant.


Asam.org. (2019). Public Policy Statement on the Definition of Alcoholism. [online] Available at: https://www.asam.org/docs/default-source/public-policy-statements/1definition-of-alcoholism-2-902.pdf?sfvrsn=459a803a_0#search=%22alcoholism%22 [Accessed 22 Feb. 2019].

Schmitz A. (2016). Benzodiazepine use, misuse, and abuse: A review. The mental health clinician, 6(3), 120-126. doi:10.9740/mhc.2016.05.120

HARGROVE, E. A., & FORD, F. R. (1952). Acute and chronic barbiturate intoxication recent advances in therapeutic management. California medicine, 77(6), 383-6.


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