Prescription Drugs: Depressants

Signs and Symptoms of Prescription Drugs: Depressants

Street Names: Downers, Barbs, Benzos, Yellow jackets, Reds (barbiturates)

Method of Use: Swallowed, Snorted, Injected


Depressants are primarily used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders.

  • Barbiturates (Nembutal, Seconal, Phenobarbital)
  • Benzodiazepines (Ativan, Halcion, Librium, Valium, Xanax)
  • Some sleep medications (Ambien, Sonata, Lunesta)

Symptoms/Effects of Use

  • Feeling of well-being
  • Lowered inhibitions
  • Poor concentration
  • Confusion
  • Fatigue
  • Impaired coordination
  • Impaired memory
  • Impaired judgment
  • Slowed heart rate and breathing
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Reduced pain/anxiety
  • Respiratory depression and arrest
  • Tolerance

What to Look For

  • Slurred speech
  • Confusion
  • Memory loss
  • Missing medications
  • Doctor shopping
  • Unexplained loss of money

Withdrawal symptoms

  • “Rebound effect” (return of symptoms that the drug was counteracting)
  • Restlessness
  • Agitation or irritability
  • Muscle tension
  • Tremors
  • Weakness
  • Seizure
  • Delirium

Note: Each person may experience different symptoms/effects. This list is not inclusive. For more information, visit www.drugabuse.gov