What Does it Look Like to be Addicted to Barbiturates?

Barbiturates are not nearly as common as other substances of abuse such as prescription painkillers, heroin, cocaine, or alcohol, however, they are still in circulation and can be extremely dangerous when abused.

Previously used by medical professionals, barbiturates were prescribed to help treat sleep disorders and anxiety. These sedative-hypnotic medications, which include Seconal, Luminal, and Nembutal, were more popular in the 1960’s and 1970’s, however, are rarely used in medicine today. Unfortunately, these medications are still easily accessible to the public and those who crave their many mind-altering effects.

When barbiturates enter the system, an individual’s brain will become affected almost immediately. GABA, a neurotransmitter in the brain, will be activated, however, due to the activation, other areas of the brain shut down, leading to feelings of sedation and poor function. Sadly, even minimal use of barbiturates can lead to coma and potentially even death.

Symptoms of Barbiturate Abuse

The symptoms an individual will show when addicted to barbiturates will depend on a number of different factors. The amount that is being used, how often use is occurring, and in what capacity this substance is being abused can all play into the kinds of symptoms that an individual will experience. Also, one’s genetics and environmental background can impact the manner in which they abuse these substances, which can also have an effect on the symptoms that he or she will display.

Despite the sedative effects that barbiturates produce, those who abuse this substance tend to display severe changes in mood. Barbiturate addiction can cause depression, irritability and agitation, and significant mood swings. These alterations in mood can eventually lead to the onset of symptoms of one or more mental health conditions, thus furthering the complexity of an individual’s addiction.

Due to the sedative nature of barbiturates, behavioral symptoms related to this type of addiction can include the following:

  • Slurred speech
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Poor coordination
  • Lack of motor control

In addition, an individual can also start to suffer from dangerous physical symptoms as a result of their addiction, which can include:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Dizziness
  • Respiratory depression
  • Slow pulse
  • Visual complications
  • Hypotension
  • Shallow breathing

Psychological symptoms can also develop quickly and can magnify the intensity of the addiction itself. When barbiturate addiction is occurring, one’s mental health might start to decline and include these symptoms:

  • Confusion
  • Poor judgment
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Slow brain function

While all of these symptoms are possible, not every person who is addicted to barbiturates will experience every single one of them. Instead, an individual is likely to suffer from a variation of these symptoms. In most instances, the presence of symptoms tends to be directly related to the severity of the addiction.

Signs of Addiction

It can be hard to decipher if an individual is addicted to barbiturates if you are unaware of what addiction looks like. While symptoms of abuse vary amongst different medications and substances, the behaviors surrounding addiction itself are often shared. And while an individual might be impacted differently on a mental and physical level due to barbiturate abuse, he or she will still show behaviors synonymous with the disease of addiction.

One of the first things that become noticeable when an individual develops an addiction to a substance like barbiturates is that he or she starts to turn inwards. This means that he or she might begin to withdraw from previously enjoyed activities, limit communication with others, and display a significant decrease in his or her interest in doing new things or meeting new people. As a result, many areas of his or her life can become affected to the degree where relationships are lost and feelings of isolation and depression start to become overwhelming.

The disease of addiction itself is so cyclical and pervasive that even if an individual wants to stop using, he or she can’t. As a result, you might notice that an individual continues to use despite suffering consequences of that use, or that he or she uses at extremely inappropriate times, such as at work or first thing in the morning. You also might notice that despite attempts to speak to your loved one about his or her use, that he or she continues using even after hearing your concerns. This is not only a sign of addiction but also potentially dependence.

Unfortunately, when addiction is present, an individual will likely begin struggling to uphold responsibilities at work, home, school, etc. Because the majority of his or her focus is on using, other areas of his or her life suffer. It is extremely common for someone addicted to barbiturates to receive a demotion at work or potentially lose his or her job, experience troubles within a marriage that can lead to separation or divorce, or fall into financial distress.

Additional signs of addiction can include the following:

  • Deceitful behavior
  • Denial about abuse
  • Changes to physical appearance
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Irritability when unable to use

Barbiturate Withdrawal

When an addiction to barbiturates has developed and then use is either ceased or completely eliminated, an individual will experience a period of withdrawal. The symptoms that will occur during this time will hinge on a few things, such as an individual’s tolerance, age, kind of barbiturate used, or if there are other mental health conditions that he or she is experiencing.

Some of the symptoms associated with barbiturate withdrawal include the following:

  • Hallucinations
  • Agitation
  • Insomnia
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Seizures
  • Tremors
  • Respiratory depression

Since these symptoms can be life-threatening, it is imperative that an individual receives the appropriate medical care prior to withdrawing. Thankfully, there is help available.

Treatment for Barbiturate Addiction

If someone you know is addicted to barbiturates, it is crucial that he or she obtains professional care. In most cases, those addicted to this kind of medication need treatment to stop.

Depending on the intensity of the barbiturate addiction, an individual can receive services through an inpatient or outpatient program. In most cases, inpatient treatment is recommended for barbiturate addiction, as the withdrawal process can be extremely painful and dangerous. After detox is completed, therapeutic services can be accessed and treatment of one’s entire addiction can be provided. When deemed appropriate, an individual can either move into an extended care program or depart inpatient treatment with an aftercare plan in tow.

If you or someone you love is addicted to barbiturates and want to stop, do not waste one more day. We can help. Contact us right now to find out more about our available treatment programs and to be connected to an admissions specialist for more information.

The Addiction Blog