According to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, Barbiturates are classified as depressants that create a wide array of central nervous system depression from mild sedation to coma. They are a class of drugs developed from barbituric acid. This acid alone has no medical uses, but medication derived from it has a great effect on the mind. They have also been deployed as sedatives, hypnotics, anesthetics, and anticonvulsants.

Barbiturates are addictive drugs that incite relaxation and sleepiness. People who use them can often become physically dependent on them. Discontinuing their use can be life-threatening to an individual. Barbiturates consist of drugs such as Amytal, Nembutal, phenobarbital, Seconal. Street names of these drugs include barbs, phennies, reds, red birds, tooies, yellows, yellow jackets.

Barbiturates have been in use for a relatively long time compared to most medications today. These drugs were first introduced in the 1900s. They drugs often cause a mild sense of euphoria, decreased anxiety, and sleepiness when used properly. Barbiturates ranges from Schedule II to Schedule IV drugs, and there are roughly 12 various types still used today.

What are the Effects of Barbituate Abuse?

Barbiturates have a common history of abuse. Drugs such as Seconal and Amytal are known for how fast-acting they are. According to the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, these drugs can produce effects within 15-40 minutes and last up to six hours. Oral ingestion by pill form is the most common method of abuse, but it is also possible to inject the substance in liquid form to speed up absorption by the body. People who abuse are often looking to reduce anxiety and relieve the effects of other drugs. Other effects laid out by the National Institute on Drug Abuse include sedation or drowsiness, reduced anxiety, feelings of well-being, lowered inhibitions, slurred speech, poor concentration, confusion, dizziness, impaired coordination and memory, a slowed pulse, lowered blood pressure, slowed breathing, withdrawal, addiction; increased risk of respiratory distress and death when combined with alcohol.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse cites that polydrug use is common with barbiturates. Polydrug abuse is the use of other substances like cocaine and alcohol in conjunction with barbiturates. The potential for health complications increases when adding a second, third or even fourth substance abuse. This polydrug abuse also calls for more arduous treatment plans.

Barbiturate Overdose

Prolonged barbiturate abuse can cause memory problems, change in alertness, decreased functionality and irritability. If an overdose is suspected, emergency services should be called immediately. Overdose could cause serious injury because of a decrease in motor skills. Such effects have been known to cause dangerous falls, inciting injuries to the head, neck and back. Aspiration of the lungs can also result from an overdose, leading to coma or even death.

What are Some Treatment Options for Barbituate Addiction?

Detoxification is the first step to treatment of barbiturate overdose. This helps an individual who has become physically dependent on barbiturates to remove the drug from the body. However, it is imperative that an individual not try to detox without the supervision of a medical professional.

Detox is only the first component of treatment after a barbiturate overdose. Individuals who overdose must continue with additional treatment to address the underlying emotional issues that might have caused the barbiturate addiction in the first place. If these issues are not addressed, it is likely that the person may return to barbiturates to cope. After detox, there are a few options to continue treatment:

  • Inpatient rehab: Residential treatment involves living at the treatment center and may span from days to a few months. The length of stay will depend on different factors such as emotional and physical health, the severity of the barbiturate addiction and whether there are multiple addictions to address. Inpatient rehab treatment options usually include detox, individual and group therapy, medical supervision by a doctor, and a variety of other therapeutic activities to aid in treatment, such as meditation, yoga, exercise, and art activities.
  • Outpatient rehab: After inpatient treatment, many people continue with some form of outpatient treatment as a transitional option to help ease them back into their everyday lives. Some enroll in outpatient rehab programs instead of inpatient treatment at the beginning of recovery. Both inpatient and outpatient programs concentrate on teaching participants how to deal with stresses of life, how to handle thoughts and actions that escalate to drug abuse, and how to abstain from drugs such as barbiturates.
  • 12-step programs: Many people participate in 12-step meetings during the first part of treatment, and they continue to attend 12-step programs like Narcotics Anonymous once treatment ends. These groups help provide individuals with the much needed guidance and support to continue life without barbiturates.