You might have heard the term “downer” used for a drug and wondered what it meant. It’s one of the many street names for drugs known as depressants. But what is a depressant? A depressant is any drug slows down the brain’s central nervous system and neural activity. What is a type of depressant? A whole number of drugs, including alcohol, marijuana, barbiturates and benzodiazepines and others.
There is a medical use for depressants: For those struggling with mental health issues, depressants known as antipsychotics can help treat their symptoms. For those who need aid in sleeping, depressants known as barbiturates help. For those with anxiety issues, depressants known as benzodiazepines help treat those symptoms.
However, while there is a medical use for depressants, often times, they are easy to become addicted to. For depressants that are prescribed by a doctor, if a person takes more than the recommended dose or without a prescription, that could lead to addiction. For depressants like alcohol and marijuana, a person can become addicted simply from repeated use.
Despite the many types out there, side effects of depressants are typically the same. They include:
- Slow brain function
- Slowed pulse and breathing
- Lowered blood pressure
- Poor concentration
- Slurred speech
- Visual disturbances
- Dilated pupils
- Disorientation, lack of coordination
- Difficulty or inability to urinate
Those are just the short-term side effects of depressants, however. What are the effects of depressants in the long-term?
- Chronic fatigue
- Breathing difficulties
- Sexual Problems
- Sleep issues
- High body temperature
- Weight gain
- High-blood sugar
There are also long-term health effects, such as liver disease from alcoholism, or mental impairments from benzodiazepines like Valium.
When depressants are combined and taken together, such as alcohol and Valium, it can be very dangerous. They can slow down someone’s breathing and heart rate so much that they could die.