Barbiturates are central nervous system depressants that produce a wide range of effects, sometimes necessary but often undesirable. Depending on the type of barbiturate you take, it can act as an anti-anxiety medicine, a sedative, a mild painkiller or an anti-convulsant. They are highly addictive and abuse can end in overdose; in fact, benzodiazepines, such as Ativan and Valium, have replaced barbiturates in many clinical settings for this reason. Nevertheless, hospital staff often use barbiturates in combination with other painkillers to produce anesthesia and to treat epilepsy, headaches and migraines. They are also sometimes used during assisted suicide.
Information About Barbiturates
Barbiturates have been in use for over 100 years. It wasn’t until the 1950s that medical professionals began recognizing the psychological and physical dependence problems caused in part by barbiturates.
Short-acting barbiturates are typically used for anesthesia. Intermediate-acting barbiturates were commonly prescribed for anxiety and insomnia until doctors realized the potential for addiction the drugs presented. Long-acting barbiturates such as phenobarbital are used as anti-convulsant drugs. Because of the potential for abuse and addiction, constant monitoring on the part of a qualified and competent medical professional is required. This may include drug testing, a narcotics contract and frequent follow-up visits.
People who are addicted to barbiturates develop specific and easily recognizable symptoms. Because all barbiturates force the brain to become reliant on the drug as tolerance against it grows, taking more of the drug becomes necessary over time. Abusing it not only worsens the addiction, it also worsens the side effects and withdrawal symptoms. Quitting suddenly and alone is dangerous and not recommended.
The Symptoms and Side Effects of an Addiction to Barbiturates
If you or someone you love is addicted to a barbiturate such as Seconal, Nembutal, Amytal, Luminal, Phenobarbital or Butisol, you may observe the following symptoms and side effects:
- Exhaustion and drowsiness
- Dilated pupils
- Impaired judgment and coordination, including slowed reflexes
- Slowed breathing and heartbeat
- Problems with vision
- Mood swings
- Slurred speech
- Paranoid and aggressive behavior
- Sexual problems
- Sleep problems
- Cognitive problems with decision-making and problem-solving
- Liver damage
During a barbiturate overdose, breathing slows until coma or death results. Adding another central nervous system depressant such as alcohol to the mix is extremely dangerous and greatly increases the chance of overdose. Because quitting barbiturates results in uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous symptoms such as seizures, intense anxiety, depression, insomnia and delirium, getting professional help is essential.
If You Want to Quit Using, We Can Help
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