How do Depressants Work? The Profile of an Addictive Class of Drugs

Depressants Can be Highly Addictive and Dangerous

While many who take depressants can handle them without abusing or misusing them, many individuals simply cannot. Depressants are often prescribed to those who struggle with anxiety or who are prone to panic attacks and anxiety disorders. They work by slowing down the activity in the brain that is responsible for anxiety, panic, and stress and many of them act as a tranquilizer or sedative.

Close to half a million prescriptions for depressants were prescribed to individuals in a recent report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration. Unfortunately, many of those who receive a prescription for Depressants often abuse or misuse them which can result in addiction.

Building up a Tolerance

When an individual takes these drugs, they are building up a tolerance to it which means they will either need a stronger prescription or they will need to take more of the drug in order to feel its effects. Not following doctors orders as it relates to dosing can have extremely adverse effects and can take a toll on the health and wellbeing of the individual.

Since this class of drug affects the central nervous system, various side effects can occur. Some of the common side effects that can occur in somebody who is abusing depressants are:

  • Dry mouth
  • Confusion
  • Lack of concentration
  • Drowsiness
  • Glazed-looking eyes
  • Slurred speech
  • Looking and acting impaired
  • Slow breathing
  • Tired

Some of the most common depressants (benzodiazepines) that are prescribed are:

  • Xanax
  • Valium
  • Ativan
  • Lunesta
  • Mabien
  • Restoril
  • Sonata

Depressants and Addiction

Those who take these highly addictive prescription drugs are at an increased risk of developing an addiction to them or other substances that have an effect. There are many long-term and short-term effects of depressants which can hinder the individual’s ability to perform their best in their job or as a parent. There is always the chance of an overdose on depressants if an individual takes a larger dose than the recommended dose. If the overdose is not caught in time and the individual is not administered an antagonist, life-threatening outcomes will ensue.

When an individual stops taking their depressant, they may begin to experience withdrawal symptoms. Some of the withdrawal symptoms that they may experience are:

  • Insomnia
  • Sweating
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • Anxiety
  • Feeling irritated and agitated
  • Delusional
  • Impaired judgemnt
  • Slurred speech

The withdrawal symptoms occur as a result of a lack of the drug getting to the brain which can have these adverse effects. Depending on how long the individual has been dependent on this medication for, the withdrawal symptoms may be worse or less severe.

Getting Help

If you or someone you know is abusing depressants or becoming increasingly dependent on them, treatment is required in order for them to make a full recovery. Typically, a period of medical detox is needed in order to safely wean the individual off of the drug prior to beginning in an inpatient or outpatient treatment program. Recovery is possible with the right help.   cannot continue to abuse these substances as their dependency can quickly turn into full-on addiction.


If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

About the Author

is a proud alumni member of WhiteSands Treatment. After living a life of chaos, destruction and constant let downs, Mark was able to make a complete turnaround that sparked a new way of life. He is serious about his recovery along with helping others. At WhiteSands Treatment, we offer support to you in your homes or when you are out living in your daily lives.