Barbiturates are prescription drugs to help treat anxiety, seizures disorders, and insomnia. When taken as prescribed by a doctor, i.e., only the needed amount for a short time, these drugs can be safe and provide effective treatment. But when they are misused or abused, they can cause serious harm, including addiction.
If taken in too high of a dose or when combined with other drugs, barbiturates can have serious side effects. These can include drowsiness, slurred speech, impaired judgment, addiction, tolerance to the drug, Dependence on the drug, and withdrawal symptoms if the person stops taking it.
- 1 Barbiturate Classification
- 2 What are the Common Barbiturates?
- 3 What are the Street Names for Barbiturates?
- 4 What are the Signs of Barbiturate Abuse?
- 5 What are the Withdrawal Symptoms?
- 6 Barbiturate Abuse Among Youth
- 7 Dangers of Barbiturates
There are three types of barbiturates: ultra-short, short, and long-acting. Ultra-short-acting barbiturates work quickly but wear off quickly as well. Short-acting barbiturates take effect more slowly and last longer than ultra-short ones. Long-acting barbiturates remain in the body for a long time and take a little longer to work.
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What are the Common Barbiturates?
Barbiturates that can be prescribed by a doctor include:
- Amytal (amobarbital) is used to treat sleeplessness.
- Butabarbital (Butisol) treats insomnia and is sometimes used before surgery.
- Nembutal (pentobarbital) can be used as a sedative or anti-anxiety medication. Pentobarbital also suppresses seizures.
- Phenobarbital is another barbiturate that is used to control seizures.
- Pentobarbital or Secobarbital (Nembutal, Seconal) are sometimes used to cause death in people with a terminal illness.
- Phenobarbital (Luminal, Solfoton) is used for seizures.
- Butalbital (Fioricet, Esgic) is a mild painkiller.
- Butalbital and Acetaminophen (Fiorinal) is a combination of barbiturate and pain reliever. This medication can be prescribed to treat tension headaches.
Other barbiturates of abuse include:
- Butobarbital (Butabital)
- Cyclobarbital (Phanodorm, Palladone).
- Hexobarbital (Evipan) is not used in the U.S. but is abused in Mexico and South America; and
- Methohexital, which is used only in the operating room.
What are the Street Names for Barbiturates?
Street names for barbiturates include “reds” (barbiturate pills), “rainbows,” “seccies” (short for Seconal), and “yellow jackets”.
When Do People Abuse Barbiturates?
People abuse barbiturates for their euphoric, sedative, and hypnotic effects. They are taken orally or intravenously (IV). Misuse of these drugs is dangerous because they suppress many of the body’s vital functions, such as heart rate and breathing. Overdose is common because it’s very easy to take more than the prescribed dose or combine barbiturates with other drugs.
When users stop taking these drugs after using them for a long time, they may go through withdrawal. Symptoms of withdrawal include tremors (shaking), irritability, anxiety, insomnia, and seizures.
How are Barbiturates Abused?
People can abuse barbiturates in several ways, including:
- Taking them more often or in higher doses than prescribed.
- Snorting them to get high.
- Mixing them with other drugs, such as alcohol or opioids.
- Taking them to try and commit suicide.
Who Gets Addicted?
People who are more likely to abuse narcotics include young adults, teens, and older people. People who abuse these drugs are also more likely to have a history of mental illness or addiction.
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What are the Signs of Barbiturate Abuse?
Barbiturates taken as prescribed by a doctor can effectively treat severe problems, but they can be misused. They should be taken for the shortest period possible, at the lowest dose possible, and with careful follow-up to ensure the person taking them is not having any adverse reactions. Patients should call their doctor if they have questions or feel that their medications are not working or think they need to be taking more.
Barbiturates are sometimes used recreationally. These drugs usually produce feelings of relaxation and calm. However, if a person takes a higher amount or more than one drug containing a barbiturate, they abuse it. When misused or abused, barbiturate drugs can cause many problems. They can cause:
- Slurred speech;
- Impaired judgment;
- Problems with control over movements or body coordination;
- Euphoria (extreme happiness);
- Increased tolerance for the drug;
- Dependence on drug or addiction;
- Withdrawal symptoms when the person stops taking it, i.e., Cold Turkey.
What are the Withdrawal Symptoms?
If someone who regularly takes barbiturates decides to stop taking them, they may experience withdrawal symptoms. These can include:
- Trouble sleeping,
- Trouble concentrating,
- Upset stomach,
- Appetite changes,
- Hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that are not there), and
- Delusions (believing things that are not true).
Withdrawal symptoms can be dangerous because some can cause seizures. It’s essential to go through withdrawal under the care of trained medical staff, or else these symptoms may become fatal.
Barbiturate Abuse Among Youth
Studies show that young people abuse barbiturates at much higher rates than adults. Adolescents and young adults taking barbiturates for nonmedical reasons may be at higher risk of abusing other drugs, including alcohol and opioids.
What are the causes of Barbiturate addiction?
The cause of barbiturate addiction is unknown. However, some factors that can increase a person’s risk include:
- Family history of drug abuse;
- History of mental health problems, such as anxiety or depression;
- Having easy access to barbiturates; and
- Using alcohol or other drugs along with barbiturates.
What are the Side Effects of Barbiturate Abuse?
Abusing barbiturates may lead to several issues, including:
- Heart Damage;
- Liver or Kidney Disease;
- Weight Loss;
- Slowed Breathing;
- Slurred Speech,
- Loss of Consciousness (Coma), and
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Dangers of Barbiturates
Barbiturate overdoses can cause seizures, coma, and death. If taken in high doses, barbiturates can kill. The lethal dose (the amount that will kill half of the people who take it) for an adult is between one and three grams or approximately 500 to 1,000 mg.
What are Alternatives to barbiturates?
There are many alternatives to barbiturates. Some of these include benzodiazepines, such as Valium and Xanax; non-benzodiazepines, such as Ambien and Lunesta; and a few other drugs.
What about the long-term impact on health from taking barbiturates?
There may be some long-term impact on health from barbiturates, but more research is needed. Potential long-term effects include addiction, overdose, heart problems, and liver damage.
It’s important to stay calm if you or someone you know has overdosed on Valium. Call emergency services immediately. Be sure that the person isn’t injured, choking, or in any other kind of trouble before you leave him. If he is conscious, ask him what he took so that the medical professionals will know how to treat him. Then follow orders carefully and make sure he follows them too. It might be hard for either of you to concentrate during this stressful time, but remember – it could save his life!
What are the long-term effects of Barbiturate addiction?
The long-term effects of barbiturate addiction vary from person to person. However, some possible long-term effects include:
- Health problems, such as liver damage, heart problems, and breathing problems;
- Social problems, such as job loss or financial problems;
- Legal problems;
- The development of tolerance, so that larger doses or more frequent use of barbiturates are needed to achieve the same barbiturate effects;
- Withdrawal symptoms if stopped abruptly after using for an extended period; and
- Continued abuse. Possible effects of continued abuse include:
- lack of consciousness (coma);
- Difficulty breathing
- Heart problems,
- Liver damage, and/or
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What are the Barriers to getting treatment for a substance use disorder?
Barriers to getting treatment for a substance use disorder vary depending on the person. Some common barriers include:
- Not knowing where to find the cure,
- Not wanting to stop using the substance,
- Feeling ashamed or embarrassed about seeking help,
- Believing that one can’t be helped,
- Worrying that loved ones will be negatively affected if treatment is sought.
- Not having insurance that covers addiction treatment,
- Fear of withdrawal symptoms, and
- Feeling like treatment is not necessary.
What are signs that someone may have a problem with barbiturates?
People who have problems with barbiturates might:
- Feel like they need the drug to function;
- Take more than the prescribed amount of the drug;
- Suddenly stop taking the drug without talking to a health care provider;
- Experience withdrawal symptoms when they try to stop taking the drug;
- Have problems at work or school because of their drug use;
- Spend a lot of time getting, using, and recovering from barbiturates;
- Have legal problems because of their drug use;
- Have health problems because of their drug use.
How to get off barbiturates safely?
If a person needs to stop using or abusing barbiturates, they should speak with a health care provider. This may be the best way to get off this type of drug safely.
Some tips for quitting barbiturates safely include:
- Gradually reducing the dosage of barbiturates;
- Slowly tapering down the amount of drug over time;
- Taking a long break between doses and using non-barbiturates as substitutes, such as benzodiazepines and non-benzodiazepines;
- Using medication to ease withdrawal symptoms;
- Avoiding alcohol use during the detox process;
- Not stopping taking barbiturates suddenly without first talking to a health care provider; and
- Seeking support from family and friends.
What about herbal supplements?
Herbal supplements with names like “Dreamer” or “Nembutal” can be harmful and should not be used as substitutes for barbiturates. Using such products may result in addiction, overdose, lack of consciousness (coma), and even death.
How is Barbiturate Addiction Treated?
Treating barbiturate addiction includes withdrawal therapy, which helps the person get through withdrawal safely. During this time, doctors may slowly reduce doses of other medications to help the person taper off barbiturates. Behavioral therapies may also be used to help people stay sober. Support groups can also help maintain sobriety.
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Treatment for Barbiturate Abuse
The best way to get treatment is an outpatient program where the person receives medical care and counseling. Some people need inpatient hospitalization from a mental health facility or detoxification center because their withdrawal symptoms may be severe.
Treatment for barbiturate abuse is similar to that for other drug addictions and may include:
- counseling, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, helps the person recognize and change their unhealthy thinking patterns and behaviors.
- Family therapy or family support group meetings can help loved ones of users better understand the disease of addiction and how it affects everyone in the family.
- Medications can help with cravings caused by addiction to barbiturates, just like they do for other drugs. Drugs that may be prescribed include buprenorphine (Suboxone), methadone, or naltrexone (Vivitrol).
- After detox, some people may need long-term treatment at an inpatient or outpatient facility specializing in behavioral health issues. This is especially true for those with other mental health conditions.
What is the Barbiturate detox Inpatient treatment program?
The inpatient detox treatment program involves staying at a rehab center for a predetermined time. This program is most often used when someone has been addicted to barbiturates for a long time or has other health problems that need to be monitored.
What is the Barbiturate detox Outpatient treatment program?
The outpatient detox treatment program allows the person to live at home while receiving treatment. This program is most often used when someone does not have a long history of addiction or other health problems.
What is cognitive-behavioral therapy for those who are addicted to barbiturates?
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a type of counseling that helps people understand how their thoughts and feelings affect their behaviors. This type of therapy can be helpful for people addicted to barbiturates because it can help them learn how to cope with the stress and anxiety that may have led to their addiction.
What is family counseling for those who are addicted to barbiturates?
Family counseling for someone addicted to barbiturates can help their loved ones better understand the addiction. This type of counseling may also include family members learning how to best support and encourage the person who is addicted to getting treatment.
What are some examples of Barbiturate detox Support groups?
Some examples of barbiturate detox support groups include Narcotics Anonymous, Crystal Meth Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous, and Sober Recovery. These groups can offer encouragement and support to people trying to overcome their addiction.
What is Medication treatment for those who are addicted to barbiturates?
Medication treatment for someone addicted to barbiturates may include medications to ease withdrawal symptoms or cravings. One such drug, buprenorphine, is sometimes prescribed because it can reduce cravings and ease withdrawal symptoms without producing the same euphoric effects as morphine or heroin, leading to abuse.
How long does it take to get over Barbiturate addiction?
It takes time to recover from barbiturate addiction varies from person to person. Some people may take a few weeks, while others may take several months. If a person is prescribed medication to ease withdrawal symptoms and cravings, they should talk to their health care provider about how long these medications should be taken.