Depressants: Barbiturates and opiates

A depressant reduces the functioning of your central nervous system. This reduces emotions of tension and fear, slows down movements and slows down cognitive processes (thinking). Like alcohol, barbiturates and opiates have this effect on the body and mind. What are barbiturates and opiates and what do they do to our body?


Barbiturates are tranquilizers and are also called sedatives. They are used, for example, to relieve anxiety and to induce sleep, but can also lead to a coma. Barbiturates are highly addictive and use can quickly lead to psychological and physiological dependence, tolerance and withdrawal symptoms. Examples of barbiturates are armobarbital, phenobarbital and secobarbital.
In combination with alcohol, the use of barbiturates provides an effect four times as strong. As a result, using these drugs together/at the same time can easily lead to an overdose, although a deep coma or death is not impossible. Using alcohol in combination with Valium or Librium can also be dangerous and lead to an overdose.

Stop taking barbiturates

If someone is physiologically (physically) dependent, stopping should be done under medical supervision. Suddenly stopping the use of barbiturates can be very dangerous. It can lead to delirium (a state of mental confusion, disorientation and inability to pay attention) in combination with visual, tactile or auditory hallucinations and disturbance of thinking and consciousness. The higher the dose and the longer the use of barbiturates, the more necessary medical supervision. Without this medical guidance, suddenly stopping can lead to an epileptic seizure (grand mal) and even death.


Opiates are narcotics. These are medicines for pain relief and treatment of insomnia, but can be highly addictive. Examples of opiates include morphine (mainly medical use), heroin and codeine (juice from a poppy plant). The effect of using these substances is often a euphoric feeling. This is because opiates directly stimulate the pleasure centers in the brain. The brain itself also produces opiate-like substances: endorphins. This regulates pain and pleasure. Opiates therefore imitate endorphins and bind to the receptor sites (receiver sites) intended for endorphins and can thus stimulate the pleasure centers.

In the medical world, opiates are often used for pain relief (also called analgesia). However, this is carefully regulated, as an overdose can lead to a coma or death. The use of opiates in a non-medical setting often goes wrong and often leads to fatal overdoses and accidents.

Stopping opiates

Stopping opiates can lead to a range of withdrawal symptoms. The use of opiates is often alternated with varying periods of abstinence. After about four to six hours of abstinence, flu-like symptoms may occur, accompanied by anxiety, feelings of restlessness, irritability, and cravings for the opiate. This worsens within a few days. Symptoms include a faster heart rate, rising blood pressure, muscle cramps and tremors, alternating hot and cold, fever, vomiting, insomnia and diarrhea.

Another depressant: Alcohol

In addition to barbiturates and opiates, alcohol also contains a substance (ethanol) that is considered a depressant.

read more

  • Alcohol as a depressant
  • Stimulants: XTC (ecstasy)