Not all drugs are created equal. In fact, there are countless different drugs in the world. Although different from one another, many drugs give off similar effects and fall under the same categorical type of substance. One of the major types of drugs that people often abuse and become addicted to are CNS depressant drugs. 

What Are CNS Depressant Drugs?

Depressant drugs are drugs that slow you down. The “CNS” in the term CNS depressant drugs stands for “central nervous system”. Thus, depressants are drugs that slow you down by affecting your central nervous system. 

The central nervous system consists of the brain and spinal cord. So, depressant drugs work by affecting the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) neurotransmitter in the brain in a way that slows down one’s brain activity. 

GABA neurotransmitters help control one’s motor control, vision, and other cortical functions. This means that using CNS depressant drugs slows down a person’s motor control, vision, and other cortical functions. Since depressants slow down the activity in a person’s brain, many people often call certain depressant drugs names like sedatives, tranquilizers, or hypnotics.

Signs of Abuse of CNS Depressant Drugs

Slowing down your motor control, vision, and other activities in your brain can act as a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how and why you’re doing so. For example, doctors often prescribe depressants to people to help slow down their brain activity in a way that will help relieve them of anxiety or help them sleep. Some prescription CNS depressant drugs can even help relieve you of pain and seizures. 

Pain, seizure, anxiety, and sleeping aid depressant prescription drugs are beneficial when you take the exact amount that is prescribed to you by your doctor for a proper length of time. Unfortunately, many people instead use and abuse prescription and non-prescription depressants to help them forget about their struggles and cope with depression and trauma. 

Types of CNS Depressant Drugs

There are several different types of prescription and non-prescription CNS depressant drugs. These types include prescription and non-prescription sleeping pills, benzodiazepines, barbiturates, alcohol, and opioids. 


Alcohol is the only type of depressant drug that is fully used recreationally. This combined with the fact that alcohol is legal to use makes it one of the most used and abused substances in the world. The amount of alcohol that a person needs to intake to slow his or her brain’s activity down varies depending on the person’s size, how much the person drank, and how fast the person drank. 

Because the initial effects of alcohol make people feel energized and more social, people often assume that alcohol is a stimulant rather than a depressant. Although consuming alcohol may energize a person at first, over time, it leads to typical depressant behaviors. For example, slurred speech and disoriented and slowed movement are all typical depressant symptoms of alcohol abuse. 

Abusing alcohol can even increase the effects of mental disorders such as depression or anxiety and elicit negative emotional responses such as anger and aggression. Alcohol is highly addictive when abused. 


Benzodiazepines, sometimes called “benzos,” are CNS depressant drugs that doctors prescribe to patients to help treat their anxiety, sleep disorders, and convulsions. These types of depressants are especially used to help treat anxiety and sleep disorders such as insomnia. This is due to the ability benzodiazepines have to sedate people, relax muscles, and slow down the brain in a way that induces sleep. 

Examples of common prescription benzodiazepines include Valium, Xanax, Ativan, Klonopin, Halcion, and Prosom. As effective as benzodiazepines are, they are highly potent and addictive. So it’s best if people only use them when treating short-term convulsions, anxiety, and sleep and stress disorders. 


Another name for barbiturates is “downers”. People also use this type of depressant to treat their anxiety and sleep disorders. Barbiturates are highly addictive though. They are even more addictive than most benzodiazepines. 

As a result, when taken in small doses, barbiturates can still cause intense euphoria and relaxation. In fact, in the early and mid-1900s, so many people suffered from barbiturate dependency, addiction, and even overdose that they are now rarely used. Benzodiazepines are now mostly used in the place of barbiturates. Common prescription barbiturates include Mebaral, Luminal, and Nembutal. 

Sleeping Medications

When discussing types of depressants, one must mention sleeping medications. This is because they are the purest example of a sedative or hypnotic. Thus, another name for sleeping medications is z-drugs. 

Also, whether prescription or non-prescription, sleeping medications are depressants. CNS depressant sleeping medications even include non-benzodiazepine sleep-aids such as Ambien, Sonata, and Lunesta. 

While sleeping medications are CNS depressant drugs, they function differently than most of their counterparts. This is because the way that sleeping medications stimulate the GABA neurotransmitters in the brain is different from the way the other depressant drugs do. 

Unlike benzodiazepines, sleeping medications also don’t reduce anxiety. Sleeping pills function solely to induce sleep. Because of the singular function of sleeping medications, they have fewer side effects and are less addictive than benzodiazepines. 

Depressant Addiction


People primarily use opioids to treat their physical pain. There is a wide range of opioids though. For example, while some people use opioids as prescription medications to treat their pain, others use opioids illegally to get high. This is especially true today since we’re in an opioid epidemic. 

Examples of legal prescription forms of opioids that people use to treat their pain include codeine and hydrocodone. Heroin is an illegal form of opioids. 

Some people even use certain forms of opioids to help treat opioid addiction. This is because opioid addiction treatment medications bind to opioid receptors in the body in ways that reduce opioid withdrawal symptoms without causing euphoria. For example, methadone, buprenorphine, naloxone, and naltrexone are some forms of opioids that a person can use to help treat opioid addiction. Regardless of the type of opioid that you have, opioids are depressants.

Abuse of CNS Depressant Drugs

Many people start to abuse prescription depressants unintentionally. This is because many people take more prescription drugs than they’re supposed to at one time or take their CNS prescription drugs for longer periods of time than they’re supposed to. 

Many people do these things because they think that it will help them overcome their condition or addiction quicker. Other people start abusing CNS depressant drugs with the intention of it helping them forget or cope with their current condition.

Regardless of the reason behind why a person begins abusing prescription or non-prescription CNS depressant drugs, doing so can easily cause that person to develop an addiction. This is especially the case since many types of depressants are highly addictive. 

Signs of Abuse of CNS Depressant Drugs

When people start abusing different types of depressants, they tend to exhibit certain signs. Some of these signs include acting secretive, no longer being social, and no longer performing well at work and/or school. 

Moody behavior such as periods of depression or apathy is also a common sign of depressant drug abuse. Lacking energy or motivation and exhibiting depressant withdrawal symptoms signal abuse of depressant drugs as well. 

Mixing depressant drugs with other substances and trying to stop using CNS depressant drugs and not being able to are even clearer signs of CNS depressant drug abuse. 

CNS  Depressant Drug Withdrawal

Once a person develops a dependency or addiction to CNS depressant drugs, not using a high amount of depressant drugs can lead to withdrawal. Withdrawal is symptoms that people experience when they minimize or discontinue their use of a substance that they are dependent and/or addicted to. Most people experience CNS depressant withdrawal when in detox. Common withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Stress 
  • Tension
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Shaking
  • Weakness
  • Irritability

  • Anxiety
  • Seizures
  • Depression
  • Restlessness 
  • Hallucinations
  • Panic attacks 
  • Body tremors
  • Memory loss

  • Aches and pains
  • Heart palpitations
  • Excessive sweating
  • Changes in perception
  • Muscular stiffness and pan
  • Increased blood pressure and pulse
  • Hypersensitivity to light and sound

Detoxing From CNS Depressant Drugs

When a person suffers from an addiction to CNS depressant drugs, it’s vital that that person attend professional detox before attending addiction treatment. This is because professional detox will ensure that you rid your body of depressant drugs. 

Another benefit of attending professional detox prior to addiction treatment for different types of depressants is that there will be doctors and other medical professionals constantly looking after you while you’re going through detox. That way, if your withdrawal symptoms become severe, doctors and other medical professionals can give you the necessary medications to help you manage them. This is unlike detoxing on your own in which a sudden appearance of severe withdrawal symptoms could lead to long-term negative effects, and even death. 

Receive High-Quality Detox Services Here at Coastal Detox

Coastal Detox is a free-standing, state-licensed medical detox center that’s dedicated to helping recovering addicts rid themselves of substances once and for all. That way they can have a better chance of maintaining sobriety after attending addiction treatment. 

To ensure that our patients are safe and receive the highest quality of detox services, we here at Coastal Detox have a highly experienced and dedicated team of doctors, nurses, therapists, CNAs, behavioral health technicians, and holistic treatment specialists. Our team of professionals can monitor each and every one of our patient’s detox journeys. 

We aren’t just your average detox facility. Here at Coastal Detox, we also offer the latest in medical addiction treatment along with holistic care and clinical therapy. That way, the mind, body, and soul of each of our patients are treated during the detox process. Thus, whether you’re looking to detox from CNS depressant drugs or some other type of substance, you can rest assured that you’ll receive the highest quality services here at Coastal Detox. 

To learn more about Coastal Detox and the detox and addiction treatment services that we offer, contact us today! We’re more than willing to answer any questions that you may have about our detox facility.

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