Module 8: Focus on Sedative-Hypnotics & CNS Depressants


In this module concerning sedative-hypnotic and central nervous system (CNS) depressant drugs we extend what was learned about alcohol in Module 7 where we identified alcohol as having a CNS depressant effect. Here in Module 8, we explore what these different types of substances are, how they are typically used and misused (including a group of “date rape” drugs), their effects, and possible effects associated with prenatal exposure. Content presented in this module informs and was informed by Begun, A.L. (2020). Introduction to psychoactive substances. In A.L. Begun & M.M. Murray, (Eds.), Routledge handbook of social work and addictive behavior. London: Routledge.

Reading Objectives

After engaging with these reading materials and learning resources, you should be able to:

  • Describe the nature of sedative-hypnotic and CNS depressant drugs and their effects mind, body, behavior and health;
  • Describe how these types of drugs might be used and/or misused;
  • Identify potential effects on developmental outcomes of prenatal exposure to these substances;
  • Explain patterns of use, misuse, and use disorders associated with these substances and the risks when combining them with alcohol;
  • Identify “date rape” and “club” drug related issues;
  • Explain key terms and concepts related to this category of substances.


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SWK 5805: Theories and Biological Basis of Substance Misuse Copyright © by Dr. Audrey Begun is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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