Depressants: What Parents Need to Know
[Skip to Content]

Depressants: What Parents Need to Know

Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
What They Are:

Tranquilizers and other depressants calm nerves and relax muscles. They are bright-colored capsules or tablets that are legally available through a doctor for medical reasons, but can be illegally abused.

Sometimes Called: A-minus, Candy, Downers, Goofballs, Barbs, Yellow Jackets, Ludes, Red Birds, Sleeping Pills, Tooies, Tranks, Zombie Pills
How They're Used: Depressants are swallowed.
What They Do:

When used as prescribed by a doctor, depressants can calm nerves and relax muscles.

Larger or improperly used doses of depressant drugs can cause confusion, lack of coordination, low blood pressure, and slowed heart rate and breathing. Someone who takes them may have slurred speech and an inability to concentrate, and may fall asleep at work or school. Depressants are addictive and withdrawal symptoms include anxiety, sleeplessness, and seizures.

Depressant drugs are very dangerous if taken with alcohol and some other drugs. Very large doses of depressants can stop breathing and cause death.

Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: May 2018