What do Depressants Do?

What are Depressants?

Depressants are a type of drug that work on the central nervous system (CNS) by depressing it and lowering a person’s brain activity and basic functions in the body. They work by slowing down the neurotransmitters that allow your brain to communicate with the rest of the nerves in your system.

CNS depressants are medications and other substances that slow down the CNS. Many CNS depressants work by increasing the activity of the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a chemical that prevents or slows the delivery of messages between cells.

Because of how depressants affect the body and the intensity of these affects, they can cause abuse or addiction to occur. Depressant addiction may require a treatment recovery program with trained health professionals and drug abuse specialists who can treat the underlying cause of the addiction.

What Drugs are Depressants?

The most common drugs that are depressants that are used are alcohol, barbiturates and benzodiazepines. One thing that virtually all depressants have in common is their ability to cause addiction. While depressants are widely used in America and people do use them around the world, understanding the risk is important. In the case of CNS prescription-strength depressants, it is advised that you be medically supervised, despite them being medications.


One of the most commonly used drugs that can cause abuse is alcohol. Many people drink alcohol in moderation and it does not affect them or their life. Others who drink alcohol begin to abuse it and this depressant drug can be debilitating to their overall life and well-being.

Mixing alcohol with other depressants can be extremely dangerous, due to the fact that alcohol is also a depressant. Mixing alcohol and benzodiazepines for example, could mean that the person will become more intoxicated more quickly; this can lead to physical harm from falling after losing balance, becoming the victim of a crime like assault or rape, and overdose.


Barbiturates are depressant drugs that are effective as anticonvulsants anxiolytics, and hypnotics, but have the potential to cause physical and psychological addiction or overdose among other possible adverse effects. Barbiturates have effects that range from mild relaxation to an inability to feel pain and loss of consciousness.


Benzodiazepines are man-made medications that cause mild to severe depression of the nerves within the brain (central nervous system) and inability to feel pain and sedation (drowsiness). Benzodiazepines can be prescribed by a doctor (MD) and used to treat certain health conditions such as nervousness, anxiety, seizures, muscle spasms or panic disorder.

Health Effects of Depressants When Used

So, you may be wondering, what do depressants do to you? Depressants change how the brain and body function, leading to certain health side effects and withdrawal symptoms to occur. People will experience differing symptoms from depressants depending on a number of factors including the type of depressant, dose of the drug, medical history and size of the person using depressants. Some of the most common symptoms of depressants are:

  • Blurred, altered, or double vision
  • Lack of coordination and impaired sense of space
  • Euphoria
  • Muscle weakness
  • Restlessness and agitation
  • Lethargy
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Disorientation
  • Slurred speech or stuttering
  • Shallow breathing or shortness of breath
  • Slightly reduced heart rate
  • Constipation

When a depressant is used for long periods of time it can negatively affect a person’s health, and cause detrimental damage to your system.

Long-term health effects can include:

  • Problems with memory, judgement or thought, memory
  • Slurred speech
  • Loss of coordination
  • Disorientation and confusion
  • Muscle weakness

Depressants Versus Stimulants

So, how do depressants and stimulants differ, and why are drugs like depressants described as the opposite of amphetamines? Depressants and stimulants are very different in how they affect the body, to the point that they are considered opposites. Amphetamines are stimulant drugs, which means they speed up the messages travelling between the brain and your system, while depressants will slow down the central nervous system and the brain.

Addiction to Drug Depressants

Like other drugs, using depressants can result in addiction or a substance abuse disorder. Using drugs to excess can cause a person to develop a dependence for it, which means you will need to continue using it in order to feel “normal.”

Some of the symptoms of addiction and abuse include an intense craving for the drug, changes in relationships or hobbies or loss of interest in normal activities, spending a lot of time to get the drug and using it, and developing withdrawals when discontinuing drug use.

If you are struggling from any type of drug addiction, it is important to get help at AToN Center right away. Our addiction team can assist you through the treatment process and guide you to recovery.

Addiction Help at AToN Center

AToN Center is a drug and alcohol addiction treatment center that is located in San Diego, CA. Our premier recovery center treats all types of drugs, including alcohol, and we provide treatment to address the symptoms that are associated with an addiction or substance abuse disorder

Our staff consists of doctoral level clinicians and counselors, and we pride ourselves on delivering high quality, individualized, treatment help and care to all of our clients. We understand the struggle and pain that addiction can cause to you and your loved ones, and we can develop the right treatment plan to address your specific needs.

If you are looking for information on our treatment center, or if you would like to view our facility, please reach out to one of our caring staff members right away. We are happy to help you through the entire recovery process, and ensure you get the help you need.