Facts You Should Know about DOWNERS - DHS 4493

Illinois Department of Human Services


(Barbituates & Benzodiazipines)

Depressant drugs are drugs that depress the brain and central nervous system. These depressants can slow the body and mind down. Barbituates and Benzodiazipines are depressants. They have a sedative, hypnotic, anticonvulsant, or anesthetic effect. They are most commonly found in the form of multi-colored capsules and can be legally prescribed by a doctor to treat disorders like sleeplessness, anxiety, tension, and epileptic seizures.

Slang Terms:

  • Barbs
  • Red devils
  • Yellow jackets
  • Block busters
  • Reds and blues
  • Christmas trees
  • Rainbows
  • Stumblers
  • Sleepers
  • Goof balls
  • Downers Pinks

Methods of Intake:

  • Swallowed
  • Injected


Barbiturates and Benzodiazipines create a sense of euphoria and relaxation. They are also used in combination with stimulants such as cocaine, amphetamines, and crystal meth/crank to reduce the unpleasant effects of these stimulants.


Tolerance develops quickly and larger doses are used, increasing the danger of an overdose. If an overdose occurs or if these drugs are taken with other drugs like alcohol, death may result due to the depression of the respiratory center in the brain.

Side Effects:

  • Slurred speech
  • Shallow breathing
  • Sluggishness
  • Fatigue
  • Dilated pupils
  • Impairment of memory
  • Irritability
  • Paranoia
  • Impairment of judgement
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Lack of coordination Sources

Withdrawal Symptoms:

  • Tremors
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Elevated Pulse Sweating
  • Seizures Eating Disorders
  • Hallucinations
  • Vomiting
  • Sleep disorders Disorientation








If you would like to know what substance abuse treatment providers are in your community, contact one of the following helplines:

  • 1-800-662-HELP
  • 1-800-662-9832 (Espanol)
  • 1-800-228-0427 (TTY)
  • OR, visit the following website: http://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/TreatmentLocator

If you have any questions about alcohol or other drugs, call:

Illinois Department of Human Services
Division of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse
1-866-213-0548 (toll-free Voice)

1-866-843-7344 (toll-free TTY)

If you have questions about any Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) program, call or visit your FCRC. We will answer your questions. If you do not know where your FCRC is or if you are unable to go there, you may call the automated helpline 24 hours a day at:


1-866-324-5553 (TTY)

You may speak to a representative between:

8:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.

Monday - Friday (except state holidays)

For answers to your questions, you may also write:

Illinois Department of Human Services
Bureau of Customer and Provider Assistance
100 South Grand Avenue East
Springfield, Illinois 62762

Visit our web site at: www.dhs.state.il.us

Programs, activities and employment opportunities in the Illinois Department of Human Services are open and accessible to any individual or group without regard to age, sex, race, sexual orientation, disability, ethnic origin or religion. The department is an equal opportunity employer and practices affirmative action and reasonable accommodation programs.

DHS 4493 (R-04-14) Drug Series - Depressants

Printed by the Authority of the State of Illinois.

200 copies P.O.#14-1088