Sedatives are drugs that calm you down. The oldest known sedative is probably alcohol, used for thousands of years. Surgeons even used it as a general anaesthetic before the arrival of ether and chloroform. Barbiturates were synthesised in the 1890s and abused widely by the 1900s. The search for safer sedative and anxiety-reducing drugs began after the Second World War, eventually resulting in the discovery of a family of drugs known as benzodiazepines, which include Valiumİ.