Sedative-hypnotics are drugs which depress or slow down the body's functions. Often these drugs are referred to as tranquilizers and sleeping pills or sometimes just as sedatives. Their effects range from reducing anxiety to promoting sleep.. Both tranquilizers and sleeping pills can have either effect, depending on how much is taken. Some are also used to induce anesthesia for short surgical procedures. At high doses or when they are abused, many of these drugs can lead to dependency or cause unconsciousness and death.

Barbiturates and benzodiazepines are two major categories of sedative-hypnotics.

Barbiturates are powerful depressants that slow down the central nervous system. They include Amytal, Nembutal, phenobarbital, Seconal, Tuinal. This drug category has largely been replaced by the newer, safer benzodiazepines. Common benzodiazepines include Xanaz, Valium and Librium.

How can you tell if a friend is using?

At low doses:

  • Reduction in restlessness and tension
  • Slurring of speech
  • Sleepy
  • Uncoordinated¬†

At larger doses:

  • Tolerance builds
  • Increased impairment when used with alcohol
  • Loss of reflexes
  • Cannot be roused
  • Anesthetic effect
  • Accidental overdose death


Sedatives--Prescription Drug Abuse