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What You Need to Know About Drugs: Depressants

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What They Are:

Tranquilizers (say: TRANG-kwih-lye-zurs) and other depressants calm nerves and relax muscles. They are bright-colored capsules or tablets that are legally available through a doctor for medical reasons, but can be illegally abused.

Sometimes Called: downers, goofballs, barbs, blue devils, yellow jackets, ludes
How They're Used: Depressants are swallowed.


What They Do to You:

When used as prescribed (given) by a doctor, depressants can calm nerves and relax muscles.

Larger or improperly used doses of depressant drugs can cause confusion, lack of coordination, low blood pressure, and slowed heart rate and breathing. Someone who takes them may have slurred speech and an inability to concentrate, and he or she may fall asleep at work or school.

Depressants are addictive and withdrawal symptoms include anxiety, sleeplessness, and seizures.

Depressant drugs are very dangerous if taken with alcohol and certain other drugs. Very large doses of depressant drugs can stop your breathing and kill you.

Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: January 2014

License

Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses and treatment, consult your doctor.

© 1995–2014 The Nemours Foundation/KidsHealth. All rights reserved.

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