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Purpose and Objectives
Equipment and Materials
Policy Overview
Workplace Impact
Understanding Addiction
Signs and Symptoms
Family and Coworker Impact
Assistance
Specific Drugs of Abuse
Alcohol
Marijuana
Inhalants
Cocaine
Stimulants
current selection is Depressants
Hallucinogens
Narcotics
Designer Drugs

Presentation Materials

Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy
Drug-Free Workplace Advisor
Employee Education

Depressants

A depressant is a drug that depresses the central nervous system, resulting in sedation and a decrease in bodily activity. Depressants, taken as prescribed by physicians, can be beneficial for the relief of anxiety, irritability, stress and tension.

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF USE

The effects of depressants are in many ways similar to the effects of alcohol. Small amounts can produce calmness and relaxed muscles, but somewhat larger doses can cause:

  • slurred speech
  • staggered walk
  • altered perception
  • respiratory depression
  • coma and death
The combination of depressants and alcohol can multiply the effects of the drugs, thereby multiplying the risks.

HEALTH EFFECTS

The use of depressants can cause both physical and psychological dependence. Regular use over time may result in a tolerance to the drug, leading the user to increase the quantity consumed.

The main classes of medical depressants are barbiturates and benzodiazepines. When regular users suddenly stop taking large doses, they can develop withdrawal symptoms ranging from restlessness, insomnia and anxiety to convulsions and death.

Babies born to mothers who abuse depressants during pregnancy may be physically dependent on the drugs and show withdrawal symptoms shortly after they are born. Birth defects and behavioral problems also may result.

Depressants are known as: barbiturates, downers and tranquilizers, such as Valium, Librium, Equanil, Serax, Tranxene and Zanax.

WORKPLACE ISSUES

  • Mental clouding and drowsiness pose a fitness-for-duty concern.

  • Many employers also have work rules requiring the employee to disclose if they are taking any sedating medications that could impact their ability to work safely.