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Drugs That Suppress the Central Nervous System-Sedatives

The objective of this article is to point out what drugs are considered sedative, their effects and dangers.

By: Susan Adams, M. Ed. 

Drugs That Suppress the Central Nervous System-Sedatives

Summary: Some sedatives are used legitimately for sleep and for anxiety reduction. However, many people use “downers” when they take “uppers” in order to come down from the highs generated by the stimulant drugs. Sedatives can be dangerous when users are driving. The drugs cause many negative physiological responses and the characteristics of thee drugs are discussed in detail in this article.

Sedatives or “downers” depress the central nervous system’s activities. Those called sedative-hypnotics also bring on sleepiness. Tranquilizers and sleeping pills can be referred to sedatives. However, what is usually meant by this word is the barbiturates. This is a large family of drugs. Most common of these are pentobarbiturates (Nembutal), secobarbital (Seconal), and amobarbital (Amytal); these are fast-starting and short-acting drugs. Less often abused are the long-acting, slow-starting barbiturates such as phenobarbital (Luminal) and batabarbital (Butisol).

Many of these drugs are legitimately used as sleeping pills and relaxants but may become overly used by people under stress or anxiety. People who abuse “uppers” may take ‘Downy” to counteract the jitters and over excitement brought on by the stimulants. Or, they may use barbiturates to “come down” from extreme highs in order to go back up again. Heroin users sometimes use barbiturates. Abusers may dissolve barbiturate pills and inject the drug.

In normal medical doses, sedatives depress nerve action and slow muscle reactions, including the heart. Heart rate and breathing are slowed and blood pressure is lowered. In abuse doses, they do all these things to an extreme degree which results in a stuporous confusion, slurred speech, and staggering. Sleeplessness, irritability, anger, shakiness, and quivering body are the signs of a barbiturate addict.

Barbiturate intoxication can be dangerous if one is driving. Also, all sedatives, but especially barbiturates, can cause physical dependence, with tolerance problems and severe withdrawal symptoms–which are often more severe and dangerous than those from heroin.

These are drugs that can kill. Barbiturate overdose has been implicated in a great number of deaths, often occurring accidentally because the drug causes confusion and loss of memory that results in the individual taking an additional dose on top of the first one. The additive effect of alcohol has also lead to many deaths. An increasing dose of barbiturate first causes slurred speech, vagueness of memory, impaired judgment; then an intoxicated stupor; then possible coma and death. Withdrawal symptoms may include convulsions, which can be fatal. Therefore, treatment of addiction and overdose should be given in a hospital and may require weeks or months.

Also used by drug users are a family of prescription drugs called benzodiazepines. ( Valium, Librium).There are tranquilizers such as meprobamate (Equanil and Miltown) and other nonbarbiturate sedatives including ethchlorvynol (Placidyl), glutethimide (Dorien), and methaqualone (Quaalude, renamed Mequin and Sopor). Some slang terms include Barbs, reds, candy, goof balls, ludes, red buds, red devils, blue devils, yellow jackets, and blue heavens.

Drugs That Suppress the Central Nervous System-Sedatives


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