Barbiturate and Benzodiazepine Abuse

Barbiturates and benzodiazepines are central nervous system depressants, meaning they slow down the nervous system and then the rest of the body.  If two or more depressants are used together the nervous system is slowed drastically possibly stopping altogether.  For this reason combining alcohol with any of these drugs is often fatal.  Both Marilyn Monroe and Jimi Hendrix died of barbiturate abuse.


The effect of these drugs on the brain is to excite the activity of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA,) to produce their effects.  GABA is the main inhibitory neurotransmitter (messenger chemical,) in the central nervous system.  When its effects are excited it means that more inhibition occurs thus slowing the nervous system more.  The patient will experience sedation, relief from anxiety, anticonvulsant effects and dilation of the blood vessels.


Marilyn Monroe who died on August 4th 1962 from an overdose of barbiturates.