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Misuse of Prescription Drugs

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Most CNS depressants act on the brain by affecting the neurotransmitter gammaaminobutyric acid (GABA). Neurotransmitters are brain chemicals that facilitate communication between brain cells. Although the different classes of CNS depressants work in unique ways, it is through their ability to increase GABA—and thereby inhibit brain activity—that they produce a drowsy or calming effect beneficial to those suffering from anxiety or sleep disorders.

This page was last updated August 2016

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NIDA (2016). Misuse of Prescription Drugs. Retrieved , from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/misuse-prescription-drugs

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​Research Reports

This series of reports simplifies the science of research findings for the educated lay public, legislators, educational groups, and practitioners. The series reports on research findings of national interest.