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Barbiturate Withdrawal

What are Barbiturates?

Barbiturates are a type of sedative medication that is prescribed to relax the central nervous system in individuals prior to medical procedures and to treat insomnia, anxiety and seizure disorders. Barbiturates are highly addictive and carry a substantial risk of fatal overdose if use is not closely monitored. Barbiturate withdrawal symptoms can vary from person to person and will depend on the specific drug and length of addiction. Barbiturates are available in several forms. These include tablet, capsule, elixir, suppository, iv solution, and suspension, all of which are only available through a doctor’s prescription.

The relaxing sedative effects of barbiturate medications can vary from mild sedation to deep coma and will depress the central nervous system to reduce tension. Barbiturate withdrawal can be uncomfortable for individuals with other medical conditions or mental health issues. Individuals relying on barbiturates for longer periods of time might find themselves experiencing severe barbiturate withdrawal symptoms. Barbiturates slow the CNS much like alcohol does, and some are fast-acting.

History of Barbiturates

Barbiturates are developed from barbituric acid by some German chemists in 1903. First used to induce sleep, these drugs are not usually prescribed for sleeping disorders today. In 1912, the drug phenobarbital was developed and is still used today to control the severity of certain seizure disorders. In order to deal with the issue of drowsiness when taken, which can last for up to twelve hours, chemists added amphetamines to counteract drugged feelings. Since that time, over 2000 different synthetic barbiturates have been developed. With this great surge in manufacturing, the number of barbiturate withdrawal cases has also grown. Many of these older barbiturate drugs have since been replaced with somewhat safer alternatives.

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Types of Barbiturates

Should you believe that your loved one, or yourself, might need help with barbiturate withdrawal and are looking for barbiturate addiction support, understanding more about barbiturates is important. Barbiturates are manufactured and classified into four different groups:

Ultra-Short Acting – These barbiturates take effect after seconds of injection. Often used prior to surgery to induce temporary unconsciousness. Works by paralyzing, blocking pain, and disrupting short term memory of the surgery.

Short Acting – This class takes effect after about 15 minutes. Usually prescribed for sleep disruptions and sedation, these drugs work to induce anesthesia. Also used in veterinary applications, short acting barbiturates work to alleviate anxiety and reduce stress.

Intermediate Acting – Barbiturates that begin working after 30-45 minutes, this class of drugs are also used for sedation and anesthesia.

Long Acting – Begins working in about an hour and last for up to 12 hours. These barbiturates are used for full-day relief from migraines, anxiety, and epilepsy. Phenobarbital is a very commonly used long-acting barbiturate.

Barbiturate Brand Names

Barbiturate Street Names

  • Amytal Sodium
  • Brevital
  • Mebaral
  • Nembutal
  • Oramon
  • Phemiton
  • Sarisol
  • Surital
  • Butabarb
  • Buticaps
  • Luminal
  • Mephyltaletten
  • Pentothal
  • Somnifaine
  • Blue heavens
  • Blue devils
  • Downers
  • Mexican Yellows
  • Goof balls
  • Lily
  • Pink Ladies
  • Red devils
  • Sleepers
  • Christmas trees
  • Barbs
  • Blockbusters
  • Purple hearts
  • Yellow jackets
  • Rainbows
  • Tooies

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Barbiturate Addiction

When an individual begins to use barbiturates outside the scope of their prescription or begins to abuse barbiturates obtained illegally on the street, the risk for addiction is quite high. Barbiturates work by resetting the central nervous system and creating a new base point or equilibrium. As the user begins to taper or cease barbiturate abuse, barbiturate withdrawal symptoms become evident. As a direct result of the bodies recalibration and adjustment to barbiturate drugs, the brain is unable to function when the balance is disrupted.

There are several established psychological and physiological symptoms that develop as tolerance to the drugs is built, causing abusers to take drugs at unsafe levels. Extended abuse at higher than appropriate doses can leave to a very strong physical dependency. The barbiturate withdrawal symptoms can include dangerous seizures and sometimes even death. All individuals struggling with barbiturate addiction and opiate addiction should seek professional help when undergoing drug detox for addiction.

Barbiturate Withdrawal Side Effects

Barbiturate withdrawal effects are serious and can lead to other complications, particularly in individuals with coexisting drug addiction and alcoholism requiring inpatient rehab treatment. The severity of barbiturate withdrawal symptoms can make drug detox impossible and unsafe to attempt alone. Some of the more common barbiturate withdrawal side effects are the following:

  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Insomnia and Restlessness
  • Weakness and Tremors
  • Agitation and Hallucinations
  • Increased heart rate
  • Seizures
  • Dehydration
  • Depression
  • Increased risk of overdose

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