Addictions: Alcohol and Substance Abuse
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Alcohol and Substance Abuse Central Nervous System Depressants

Mark Dombeck, Ph.D.

Member Drugs: (Brand Names) [Street Names]

  • Alcohol
  • Barbiturates ['ludes, sleepers, downers, tranquilizers]
  • Benzodiazepines (Valium, Ativan, Librium, Xanax) [sleepers, downers, tranquilizers]

What The Drugs Looks Like:

  • Alcohol is a clear liquid, but most typically comes in the form of beer, wine or liquor (also cough syrup, cooking vanilla, mouthwash, etc.)
  • Benzodiazepines and Barbiturates most commonly come in pill form

Most Typical Routes Of Administration:

  • Mouth (drinking liquids, swallowing pills)

What These Drugs Do (Symptoms Typical Of Intoxication):

  • Short term effects:
    • Drinking effects speech, vision, balance, memory and judgment.
    • After only one or two drinks, a person has lost some of their coordination skills.
    • When a person drinks a small amount of alcohol, they may feel relaxed, self confident, drowsy, dizzy or have a sense of well being. They may also become hostile, depressed and withdrawn.
    • If too much alcohol is taken into the body at once, the depressant effects of the drug will cause the heart and lungs to stop working and the person will die. People who drink a lot very quickly are particularly at risk for overdosing on alcohol.
    • Alcohol lowers inhibitions and impairs judgment which could lead to risky behaviors such as driving while intoxicated, or unprotected sex.
  • Long term effects:
    • A single glass of red wine each day has been shown to help prevent heart disease in some adults. These beneficial effects have not been found to hold true for youth.
    • Some of the effects of heavy, long term drinking are: liver disease, cancer, stomach ulcers, brain damage, behavior change, nervous system damage, inflammation of the pancreas, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke.
    • Heavy drinkers are more likely to contract diseases and infections than other people.

Possible Withdrawal Symptoms:

  • Shakiness
  • Sweats
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Anxiety
  • Rapid heart beat
  • Increased blood pressure.
  • Craving
  • "DTs" (delirium tremens)
    • Seizures/Convulsions
    • Hallucinations

Most Significant Problems:

  • Strong possibility of a potentially fatal overdose
  • Highly addictive
  • Strong, painful and potentially lethal withdrawal symptoms
  • Can cause (and/or prolong existing) depressions and anxiety symptoms
  • Drinking while pregnant can cause severe, permanent damage to the developing fetus.

How Tested For:

  • Alcohol: Breath or Blood Test (positive for duration of intoxication)
  • Barbiturates: Urine Test: (remains positive for 24 hours to 7 days after last dose)
  • Benzodiazepines: Urine Test (remains positive for 3+ days after last dose)