Causes cortex to go into a relaxed state. Mechanism: work through gaba => primary inhibitory amino acid transmitter. => bind to gaba receptors and lowers brain excitability. Most depressants are synergistic w each other work w similar mechanisms and enhance each other or cancel each other"s withdrawal"s effect. Prescribed for sleep induction, most commonly in elderly due to disturbance of circadian rhythms and inability to sleep in elderly. Withdrawal: brain becomes hyper-excitable after coming off depressants; if person has been taking barbiturates for a long time there is a chance of seizures/convulsions. Made by yeast digesting sugar and excreting alcohol. Accounts for largest number of admissions to mental hospitals => 20-40% of all admissions. 55% of all arrests => one of the parties was drinking. 50-75% of all homicides => a person was drinking. 50% of driver deaths => one of the parties was drinking. 20-30% of all suicides => the person had been drinking.