What are depressants?

Depressants are drugs which slow down the central nervous system. They slow down our breathing, heart rate and reaction times. They might make us struggle with our coordination, but also lead to people feeling a general sense of relaxation.

There is a risk of overdosing on depressants and our breathing/heart rate being suppressed so far that we fall unconscious, throw up or even die.

What kind of substances are depressants?

Alcohol is the most commonly used depressant due to its legality and widespread availability. Other common depressants are often found in painkillers, many of which are opiates.

Opiates come in many forms, both in legal and prescribed medications such as codeine, tramadol and morphine, as well as illegal forms, with the most common being heroin.

Benzodiazepines are also depressants which may be prescribed to treat things such as anxiety and sleeping problems. Gabapentin and Pregabalin have some effects similar to depressants, too. These are often prescribed for things like nerve pain and epilepsy.

Some people buy benzodiazepines, gabapentin or pregabalin illicitly. These may be legitimate versions of the drugs which have been otherwise diverted from their normal pharmaceutical routes, or they may be being put together (either accurately or inaccurately) by illegitimate chemists. This means that there may be an extra layer of risk for anyone gaining these substances through illicit means.

What can we offer?

Inspire offers support with all substances, and can offer medically assisted treatment which may include the prescribing of buprenorphine or methadone. These substances work as substitutes to opiates and allow you to move away from other opiates, which often come with safety risks, and towards a reduction at a pace which suits you.

Click here to use our drugs screening tool.


Naloxone is an emergency medication used to temporarily reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.  Naloxone has an important role in reversing the effects of opioids and preventing death.  Get your free kit from us – you could save a life!

Naloxone takes 2-5 minutes to work when injected into a muscle, and the effects last for 20-40 minutes.
However, duration and type of effect from naloxone depends on which opioid was used, how much opioid was used, how the drug was taken and if any other drugs or alcohol have been used.  Repeated doses of naloxone can be given every 2-3 minutes if needed.

If you suspect an overdose has occurred but you don’t know whether it’s from opiates, using Naloxone will not do any harm. When in doubt, use Naloxone.

Always call 999 if and when you suspect an opiate overdose.

Coronavirus information


Please visit our coronavirus page to read advice for anyone who uses our services.