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Robert had always thought of Jeremy as his best friend. But lately, Jeremy was acting like a completely different person. Whenever they were together, Jeremy always brought along his downers. At first he had taken them only at parties, but lately he was taking them every day. Jeremy always tried to persuade Robert to take some, too. Jeremy talked about how relaxed he felt when he took the pills.

Robert was shy and a bit of a loner. He started to think that maybe a few downers would help him be more outgoing. Maybe they would help him ask out this girl he liked. Jeremy never seemed to be nervous, even around the most popular girls in school.

But seeing Jeremy when he had taken the downers for a while made Robert think it wasn't such a good idea after all. Jeremy could hardly sit still. He acted nervous and complained of feeling sick. Robert knew that Jeremy couldn't sleep without taking the pills, either. Lately, it seemed that he couldn't do anything without them.

Then Jeremy encouraged Robert to come along with him to a local college party where there would be plenty of alcohol, older women, and drugs. When they arrived late, Carmine, one of Jeremy's suppliers, ran up to him asking if he was holding any downers. His urgency stemmed from the fact that Carmine had a problem: He needed the barbiturates to calm the behavior of a young woman named Nancy who had been smoking crystal meth, or methamphetamine, all afternoon. She was paranoid, running a high temperature, and hallucinating.

When Carmine went to comfort Nancy, she thought he was trying to do her harm. Finally, Carmine called for Jeremy and Robert to help hold her down. She kicked, screamed, and cried before finally taking the pills. This was the first time that Jeremy clearly understood that drugs could take over a person's life.

Finally, Carmine reported that Nancy was sleeping. Jeremy had seen enough. After handing over his remaining pills to Carmine, he turned to Robert and said he was leaving the party.

Although barbiturates are not the drug of choice for most teens, using barbiturates to counteract the effects of other drugs is quite common. In these cases, teens see depressants as a cure for other drugs that they consider more detrimental—those they may think of as the true hard drugs.

The truth is that all drugs are damaging, and teens should never use them. It is even more harmful to offer drugs to your friends to neutralize the effects of other drugs they have already taken. Drug combinations and interactions are risky and dangerous and could lead to permanent brain damage, coma, or even death.

Many teenagers today have to deal with a lot of pressure and stress. School, friends, and parents may pull you in different directions as you try to discover who you are. As you grow older, you learn to handle the stress of everyday life. Whether you feel frustrated, confused, angry, or hurt, it's important to face those feelings. By confronting your problems, you are better able to handle many of life's challenges. Unfortunately, like Jeremy, many teens turn to drugs and alcohol to try to make the problems go away. Drugs and alcohol, however, only make the problems worse.

This book is about depressants. Depressant drugs include barbiturates (Amytal, Nembutal, Seconal, phenobarbital), benzodiazepines (Ativan, Halcion, Librium, Valium, Xanax), and alcohol. Depressants can be very dangerous when they are abused. Abusers of these drugs can quickly become addicted. Stopping the abuse is difficult and often dangerous. It's important to understand the dangers involved in taking depressants. They cause thousands of deaths each year in the United States. People who understand the great risks are more likely to decide not to abuse them.

In this book we will talk about the different kinds of depressants. You will learn what these drugs are, their street names, where they come from, and what happens to your life and your body when you abuse them. Most important, this book will discuss how to get help if you or someone you care about becomes addicted.

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaCommon Street Drugs