Sleeping pills, minor tranquillisers.

Other names include: Benzos, temazzies, Valium, tranks, sleepers, Serapax, serries, Mandrax, mandies.

Signs and symptoms: Drowsiness, confusion, uncoordination, slurred speech, depressed pulse rate, shallow breathing.

Potential problems: Anxiety, depression, restlessness, tremors, insomnia, changes in eyesight, high risk of addiction and suicide.

Otherwise known as ‘downers’, depressants act to slow or reduce the function of the brain and body. Mainly used as prescription medicines, they’ve also become popular as ‘illicits’ or mood-altering substances. They can cause anything from feelings of relaxation and mild contentment, to sedation and total blackout. Definitely don’t use them with alcohol – you can stop breathing!

Most pharmaceutical drugs used for legitimate medical purposes are limited to pharmacist supply and require a prescription for purchase. Despite these controls, they are also diverted into the illicit market. Pharmaceuticals are used illicitly for a number of purposes. These include supplementing other drug use, enhancing the effects or managing the withdrawal symptoms from other drugs. They may also be misused to self-medicate, deal with dependence or to achieve an intoxicating effect. Non-medical use of pharmaceutical drugs can result in serious health risks and can lead to addiction.

If you required an accessible version of this document please contact the National Drugs Campaign Team

This page was last reviewed in February 2014.