What are Barbiturates?

Barbiturates are classified as depressants or sedatives. They contain barbituric acid that slows down your body’s central nervous system. Originally intended for the treatment of seizures, anxiety and insomnia, barbiturates were prescribed widely beginning in the late 1800s. However, they proved to be highly addictive. In the 1960s and 1970s, people began misusing these drugs on a recreational basis. While barbiturates have mostly been replaced by benzodiazepines on today’s prescription pads, they have not entirely disappeared. Read on to learn the facts about barbiturate addiction.

What are Common Uses for Barbiturates?

In the rare instance that a barbiturate medication is prescribed today, it is often intended to induce drowsiness. Barbiturates can help a person sleep if they have insomnia or another related problem. However, they work best in short-term intervals, and the potential for overdose is incredibly high. This makes these drugs more dangerous than similarly-acting medications. 

Doctors might also prescribe these drugs before surgery to treat anxiety. They also can help people suffering from nervousness or restlessness. And in other cases, they can help people suffering from seizures.

List of Barbiturates

Here is a list of the common barbiturates:

  • Butisol
  • Capacet
  • Mysoline
  • Tuinal
  • Amytal Sodium
  • Mephobarbital
  • Luminal
  • Pentothal
  • Nembutal Sodium
  • Amobarbital
  • Butabarbital
  • Pentobarbital
  • Phenobarbital
  • Secobarbital

Are They Addictive?

Yes, barbiturates can be extremely addictive. These drugs were initially misused because they produce feelings of relaxation and euphoria. People also used them recreationally to counteract the effects of stimulant drugs like methamphetamine and cocaine. However, barbiturates have a high addictive potential. The body adapts to this class of drugs very quickly. After two weeks of continued use, the drug loses its effectiveness, according to the Mayo Clinic. As dosages increase, so does the risk of overdose.

In 2022, barbiturate use disorder is far less common than it was in the 1990s. There is one exception – they’re still a popular drug of choice for teenagers. Today’s teens probably don’t remember the widespread overdose deaths associated with these drugs. Therefore, experts believe that they underestimate the dangers of using barbiturates.

What are the Side Effects of Using Barbiturates?

Someone using these drugs at a small dosage might experience drowsiness, lack of inhibition and light-headedness. At higher doses, they’ll also lose fine motor control; they may bump into items or struggle to move gracefully.

Those high on barbiturates tend to behave like a drunk person would. They slur their words, become confused and behave strangely. If someone becomes unresponsive after taking these drugs, they may have overdosed. Contact emergency medical services immediately if you believe that someone has taken too much of this medication.

Signs of Barbiturate Addiction

Someone addicted to using barbiturates may experience:

  • Mood swings
  • Taking more of their prescription than necessary
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Needing higher amounts of the drug to function
  • Hyperactivity
  • Losing employment or relationships due to substance use
  • Legal problems caused by barbiturate use (such as driving under the influence)
  • Sluggishness
  • Hyperactivity
  • Foregoing all other priorities to obtain, use and recover from barbiturates

Can You Overdose on Barbiturates?

Yes, you can. Signs of overdose can include slurred speech, confusion, extreme tiredness, trouble breathing, struggling to maintain balance and severe weakness. Non-responsiveness is the most important sign that something is wrong. In instances where these symptoms arise, it’s imperative to get medical help immediately. 

How Do You Treat Barbiturate Addiction?

When someone has an addiction to barbiturates, they need professional care. During this time, they’ll enter detox. It is where they’ll receive supervision and medicine to help them counteract the withdrawal effects.

What happens during drug use is your brain alters to adapt to the substances your body absorbs. In turn, when you quit using drugs, you need medicine to help your brain adjust back to normal. If you do not give it time, then you might experience withdrawal symptoms like shaking, vomiting, irritability and even seizures. Cold-turkey barbiturate withdrawal can be painful or dangerous; for this reason, it is recommended to seek professional help.

Once you complete a detoxification program, there will be a variety of treatment options available. 12 Step programs, group sessions and in-depth therapy can help you to address underlying mental illnesses and the root cause of your substance abuse.

Getting on the Fast Track to Recovery

People regularly overusing barbiturates might have an underlying mental illness. Our team at Cumberland Heights provides customized solutions that address the cause of using and employ coping mechanisms to help the person regain control of their lives. We offer group therapies, detox, residential treatment and extended care to help you on your road to recovery.

Contact us today to learn more about our programs and take the first step towards a healthier tomorrow.