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1. Commercial and Street Names of Prescription Tranquilizers & Sleeping Pills
1. A. Benzodiazepines used as tranquilizers:
Diazepam (Valium®), Oxazepam (Serax®), Lorazepam (Ativan®), Alprazolam (Xanax®)
1. B. Benzodiazepines used as sedatives:
Temazepam (Restoril®); Flurazepam (Dalmane®); Triazolam (Halcion®); Flunitrazepam (Rohypnol®) Roofies, rope, the forget pill.
1. C. Barbiturates and other sleeping pills:
Secobarbital (Seconal®) Reds, red birds, red devils; Pentobarbital (Nembutal®) Yellow jackets; Amobarbital (Amytal®) Blue heavens; Amobarbital-Secobarbital (Tuinal®) Christmas trees, rainbows; Zopiclone (Imovane®)
Sources: DEA and NIDA InfoFacts, Presciption Pain and Other Medications
Actual photo of droopy eyes due to opioid use.
Heroin users often have “pinned” or constricted pupils that do not respond to poor lighting. Other depressants often have similar effects.
1. D. Antihistamines used as sleeping pills:
Diphenhydramine (Benadryl®, Unisom® Sleepgels, Dytuss®, Dramamine®).
Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
2. Description of Sleeping Pills
Barbiturates and benzodiazepines are prescription medications that slow down normal brain function.
Tranquilizers produce calm without sleep. Benzodiazepines can also be used to aid sleep but may produce morning and daytime drowsiness. Benzodiazepines have replaced barbiturates in the treatment of many disorders. Benzodiazepines are usually prescribed to treat anxiety and nervousness, relax muscles, and control certain types of muscle spasms. Benzodiazepines are recommended for short-term use only since they can create dependence.
Rohypnol is also a benzodiazepine. See the Date Rape Drug section for more information on Rohypnol.
Barbiturates were developed to treat sleep problems, anxiety, tension, high blood pressure and seizures. Some are used as anaesthetics. Benzodiazepines and barbiturates are very dangerous when consumed with other depressants such as alcohol.
Sources: DEA and NIDA InfoFacts, Prescription Pain and Other Medications
3. Effects of Sleeping Pills
Reduced anxiety, feeling of well-being, lowered inhibitions, slowed pulse and breathing, lowered blood pressure, poor concentration/fatigue, confusion, impaired coordination, memory, judgment, addiction, respiratory depression, death.
Barbiturates create the above effects but can also unusual excitement, fever, and life-threatening withdrawal.
See Description of Sleeping Pills above.
For additional printed resources on sleeping pills see the Prescription Drug section.
For additional online resources on sleeping pills see the Prescription Drug section.
General Information on Sleeping Pills
Benzodiazepines (January 2013) Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
Diazepam, Impaired Driving and Sleeping Pills
Diazepam – Drugs and Human Performance Fact Sheets (April 2004) is a detailed fact sheet on effects of diazepam use, particularly on performance and driving. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Diphenhydramine, Impaired Driving and Sleeping Pills
Diphenhydramine – Drugs and Human Performance Fact Sheets (April 2004) is a detailed fact sheet on effects of diphenhydramine use, particularly on performance and driving. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Research and Sleeping Pills
Benzodiazepines in Drug Abuse-Related Emergency Department Visits: 1995-2002 (April 2004) shows benzodiazepines were involved in over 100,000 drug abuse-related ED visits in 2002. Drug Abuse Warning Network, The DAWN Report, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
Seniors and Sleeping Pills
Seniors, Sleeping Pills and Tranquilizers (May 2005) discusses sleeping pill use among seniors. Health Canada.
What to Do If You Can’t Sleep (May 2005) is for seniors who feel anxious or worried, lonely, or have trouble sleeping. Health Canada.
For more information on seniors see the Special Populations section.
Zopiclone, Impaired Driving and Sleeping Pills
Zopiclone – Drugs and Human Performance Fact Sheets (April 2004) is a detailed fact sheet on effects of zolpidem (zopiclone, zaleplon) use, particularly on performance and driving. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).