Depressants: What Parents Need to Know

Depressants: What Parents Need to Know

What They Are:

Tranquilizers 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, yellowjackets, ludes
How They're Used:Depressants are swallowed.
What They Do:

When used as prescribed 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 depressants can stop breathing and cause death.

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





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.





Bookmark and Share

Related Resources
OrganizationPartnership for a Drugfree America This site features information about drugs and their effects and treatments. The site also shows paraphernalia associated with different drugs and includes personal stories.
OrganizationNational Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) NIDA offers a science-based drug abuse education program for students, news, information, and resources.
OrganizationAmerican Council for Drug Education The ACDE is a prevention and education agency against substance abuse. This website includes a helpful list of symptoms associated with specific drugs.
Related Articles
Drugs: What Parents Need to Know Knowing what drugs are out there, what they can do, and how they can affect someone is the first step in raising drug-free kids.
Amphetamines: What Parents Need to Know Amphetamines (including prescription diet pills) are highly addictive stimulants that accelerate functions in the brain and body.
Dealing With Addiction Find out what you can do if you think you or a friend has a drug or alcohol addiction - from recognizing the warning signs to suggestions to help you stay clean.
I Think I May Have a Drinking/Drug Problem. What Should I Do? Find out what the experts have to say.
Talking to Your Child About Drugs Just as you inoculate your kids against illnesses like measles, you can help "immunize" them against drug use by giving them the facts now.
Drugs: What You Should Know Lots of people are tempted by the excitement or escape that drugs seem to offer. But learning the facts about drugs can help you see them for what they are - and can help you steer clear.
Talking to the Pharmacist If your child is sick, you'll probably have many questions to ask your doctor. But have you made a list of questions and concerns to share with your pharmacist?
What You Need to Know About Drugs Drugs are chemicals that change the way a person's body works. Some drugs help you feel better, but drugs also can harm you. Learn more in this article for kids.
What You Need to Know About Drugs: Depressants Depressants are a dangerous drug if used the wrong way. Find out more in this article for kids.
iGrow iGrow
Sign up for our parent enewsletter