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Because they reduce anxiety and produce pleasantly sedating or "tranquilizing" effects, these drugs are more subject to abuse than the neuroleptics.

Since antiquity, people of virtually every culture have used chemical substances to induce sleep, relieve stress, alleviate anxiety, and manage the crippling symptoms of severe mental illness.

This term, however, arose from the inaccurate belief that the major positive action of the earliest drugs used to treat this illness was sedating and that these drugs were on a continuum with other, less powerful, antianxiety drugs.

However, these drugs are now more commonly—and more accurately—called neuroleptics or antipsychotics.

However, since their discovery, the use of neuroleptics has fueled an ongoing debate within the mainstream psychiatric community.

This discussion arises primarily as a result of the serious nature and unpredictability of side effects associated with these drugs.

Neuroleptics are used primarily in managing the symptoms of schizophrenia, although they are also used to treat a variety of conditions, including autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder, and even to alleviate severe pain.

According to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) estimates, over 60 million people receive prescriptions for tranquilizers every year.

As opposed to medications prescribed for sedation, the neuroleptics often produce signs of neurological dysfunction, such as extrapyrimidal effects (involuntary movements such as Parkinson-like tremors and other abnormal movements).

The term "antipsychotics" is sometimes used because these drugs are generally used to treat symptoms of paranoia, psychosis, or serious distortions in the perception of reality, such as hallucinations or delusions. The term "minor tranquilizer" (which has been replaced by the more precise terms "sedative-hypnotic" or "anxiolytic") refers to drugs used to treat conditions such as insomnia and anxiety.

OFFICIAL NAMES: Major tranquilizers (neuroleptics/antipsychotics): Chlorpromazine (Thorazine); chlorprothixene (Taractan); clozaril (Clozapine); fluphenazine (Permitil, Prolixin); haloperidol (Haldol); loxapine (Daxolin, Loxitane); mesoridazine (Serentil); molindone (Lidone, Moban); olanzapine (Zyprexa); perphenazine (Trilafon); pimozide (Orap); quetiapine (Seroquel); risperidone (Risperdal); thioridazine (Mellaril); thiothixene (Navane); trifluoperazine (Stelazine); trifuluopromazine (Vesprin); ziprasidone (Geodon).

STREET NAMES: Major tranquilizers: antipsychotics, neuroleptics. DRUG CLASSIFICATIONS: Major tranquilizers: Not scheduled OFFICIAL NAMES: Minor tranquilizers (sedative-hypnotics/anxiolytics)/Benzodiazepines: Alprazolam (Xanax); chlordiazepoxide (Librium, Novopoxide); clonazepam (Klonopin); clorazepate (Azene, Tranxene); diazepam (Valium); estazolam (Pro Som); flunitrazepam (Rohypnol/illegal in the United States); flurazepam (Dalmane); halazepam (Paxipam); lorazepam (Ativan); midazolam (Versed); oxazepam (Serax); prazepam (Centrax); quazepam (Doral); temazepam (Restoril); triazolam (Halcion)STREET NAMES: Minor tranquilizers: (benzodiazepines: BZDs, tranks, downers, benzos, goofballs, happy pills, sedative-hypnotics, anxiolytics); (barbiturates: Amys, barbs, blues, downers, yellow jackets, rainbows, red devils); (nonbarbiturate sedative-hypnotics: ludes, Sopors)DRUG CLASSIFICATIONS: Benzodiazepines: Schedule IV, depressants OFFICIAL NAMES: Minor tranquilizers (sedative-hypnotics/anxiolytics)/Nonbenzodiazepines: Zaleplon (Sonata); zolpidem (Ambien); Buspirone (Bu Spar)DRUG CLASSIFICATIONS: Nonbenzodiadepine hypnotics: Zaleplon (Sonata); zolpidem (Ambien), Schedule IV, depressants; Buspirone (Buspar): Not scheduled OFFICIAL NAMES: Minor tranquilizers (sedative-hypnotics/anxiolytics)/ Barbiturates: Amobarbital (Amytal); butabarbital (Butisol); butalbital (Fiorinal, Sedapap); mepho-barbital (Mebaral); methohexital (Brevital); pentobarbital (Nembutal); phenobarbital (Luminal); secobarbital (Seconal)DRUG CLASSIFICATIONS: Barbiturates: Amobarbital (Amytal); butabarbital (Butisol); pentobarbital (Nembutal); secobarbital (Seconal), Schedule II, narcotic analgesics; mepho-barbital (Mebaral); methohexital (Brevital); phenobarbital (Luminal), Schedule IV, narcotic analgesics OFFICIAL NAMES: Minor tranquilizers/Nonbarbiturate sedative-hypnotics: Chloral hydrate (Aquachloral Supprettes, Noctec, Somnos); ethchlorvynol (Placidyl); glutethimide (Doriden); meprobamate (Miltown, Equanil); methaqualone (Quaalude); methyprylon (Noludar)DRUG CLASSIFICATIONS: Nonbarbiturate sedative-hypnotics: Chloral hydrate (Noctec, Somnos), ethchlorvynol (Placidyl), Schedule IV, depressants; glutethimide (Doriden), Schedule II, depressant; meprobamate (Miltown, Equanil), Schedule IV, depressant; methaqualone (Quaalude); methyprylon (Noludar), Schedule I, depressant Tranquilizers are agents that suppress or inhibit some aspects of central nervous system (CNS) activity—the brain, spinal cord, and the nerves from both—and are thus referred to as CNS depressants.

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