Although alcohol is the prototype of depressant drugs, today there are a number of drugs that can suppress the central nervous system and behavior. They include many different chemical compounds, but especially barbiturates, benzodiazepines, a certain amount of non-barbitrate sedatives and common anesthetics are distinguished from them. These drugs are often classified according to their usual medical use, but often this classification leads to difficulties. For example, benzodiazepines such as dysepam (Valium) and chlordizepoxide (Librium) are often referred to as tranquilizers (sedatives).
Although moderate doses of these compounds can serve to calm the patient, but when used, they produce a soothing-hypnotic effect and are often prescribed as a sleeping pill. On the other hand, barbiturates are considered by many only as sleeping pills. In smaller doses, barbiturates also act as sedatives, and if their dose is large, they can be used for surgical anesthesia.
All depressants (including alcohol) suppress anxiety at the level of small doses, cause intoxication at moderate doses, stimulate calm and sleep at the level of large doses, cause general anesthesia in very large doses and, eventually, can lead to coma and death. Soothing drugs are used for medical purposes much more often than others. Due to the different strength of action, its duration, safety for the patient, some depressants are used for specific purposes more often than others (for example, laughing gas is used almost always for anesthesia). Benzodiazepines are currently the most important class of drugs for treating anxiety and insomnia.
Perhaps the first sedative compound (with the exception of alcohol, previously known), was a laughing gas (nitrous oxide), which was discovered by Joseph Prestli and was first synthesized by Humpfrey Devi in 1776. These English scientists were the first to notice that inhalation of nitrous oxide leads to a short period of intoxication, in its properties in many respects similar to intoxication. From the moment it was noticed that nitrous oxide causes a state of euphoria with bouts of laughter, this drug is called “laughing gas”. Despite the fact that the researchers experimented with gas in terms of its application for regenerative purposes, its use in medicine was delayed as a result of one of the most famous collisions in the history of medicine.
The story began in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1845, when a young dentist named Horace Wells attended a demonstration of the effects of a laughing ha. “People were given the opportunity to inhale nitrous oxide or see how others do it. One of the visitors stumbled during the demonstration and cut himself badly, and Wells remarked that this visitor did not feel pain, despite his severe cut. As a dentist, Wells immediately saw the prospects for using this drug in dentistry. Dentistry and other surgical procedures During this period, the directions of medicine were limited in anesthetics and the treatment was very painful. Wells conducted an experiment with nitrous oxide in practice and found out that the tooth can be removed without pain. After announcing his discovery, Wells was invited to demonstrate his operation at the Massachusetts Central Hospital in Boston. There, in front of a group of renowned professors, Wells subjected the patient to anesthesia. However, Wells studied the drug insufficiently carefully to reliably determine dosages, and during the operation t awoke, screaming in pain. Wells was criticized by skeptical scientists, and for this reason the use of laughing gas as an anesthetic was postponed for many years. Today, nitrous oxide is widely used in dentistry and many other areas of surgery.
The next step in the history of depressants was the study of drugs to find effective anesthetics. William Morton, who studied medicine in Boston, was familiar with Welles’ blunders, but he himself studied another drug that he believed could be the best anesthetic — ether. Ether is a flammable liquid that evaporates at room temperature. When inhalation of ether vapor intoxication occurs. After conducting the initial experiments, Morton asked for permission to demonstrate the ether as an anesthetic. So, in 1846, a year after the Wells collapsed, Morton gave a demonstration at the Massachusetts Central Hospital. A huge audience gathered to watch, and maybe laugh at a daring young student who proclaimed the discovery of a method to prevent pain during surgical intervention. This event was described as:
Everyone, including the strong assistant who was holding the suffering patient, was ready and waited, but Morton did not appear. Fifteen minutes passed and the surgeon, having lost patience, took a scalpel and, turning to the audience, said: “Since Dr. Morton does not appear, I believe that he is busy with something else.” The participants smiled, and the patient cringed from fear and pain, the surgeon turned to him to make an incision. At that moment, Morton appeared … (the surgeon) said: “Sir, your patient is ready.” In dead silence, surrounded by a hostile audience, Motron silently went to work. A few minutes after inhalation of the vapors of ether, the patient was unconscious, after which Morton looked around at those present and said:
“Dr. Warren, your patient is ready.” The operation began, the patient showed no signs of pain, while he was alive and breathing. There was no need for a strong medic. When the operation was completed, Dr. Warren turned to an astounded audience and spoke the famous: “Gentlemen, this is not a hoax.”
After completing the first public demonstration of surgical anesthesia, Morton revolutionized practical surgery. The use of ether as an anesthetic has spread rapidly throughout the world and is sometimes used until now, along with more modern anesthetics, such as halogen, anesthetic gases, barbiturates.