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Barbiturate Addiction: Signs, Symptoms, & Treatment

June 23, 2020 , Agape Treatment Center

man holding his head who is suffering from barbiturate addictionBarbiturate addiction refers to the compulsive and habit-forming use of the sedative-hypnotic class of medications. These medications were previously used to treat individuals with sleep-related disorders or severe anxiety. While barbiturates were popular in the 1960s and 1970s, these medications are not commonly used by medical professionals. This is because barbiturates quickly became a known drug of abuse during their popularity, as they provided individuals with reduced anxiety, allowed people to decrease their inhibitions, and corrected unpleasant side-effects of other drugs of abuse.

Barbiturate addiction

In current times, barbiturates are typically obtained illegally and known by the street names of “yellow jackets,” “downers,” “goofballs,” and “reds.” Barbiturates work by upgrading the activities of the neurotransmitter GABA, which at that point shuts off huge bits of the mind, delivering sedative and calming impacts. After some time and research, doctors began to notice that barbiturates were a dangerously addictive class of drugs. This was due to the fact that the dose required to produce sedation was similar to the dose that could potentially cause coma and death. After coming to this realization, medical professionals stopped using barbiturates and began using benzodiazepines such as Klonopin in an attempt to reduce the rate of fatality risks.

These downers are found in the form of multicolored pills, capsules, or in liquid form. While barbiturates are generally abused in pill form, these drugs can be injected intravenously in order to produce faster effects. The varying forms of barbiturates differ in the length of time their effects last. To explain, some barbiturates may cause effects that can last up to days at a time, while others may only last a few minutes. Because these substances are fat-soluble, they can easily cross into the blood-brain barrier. In other words, since barbiturates dissolve in body fat, they can accumulate in the body and eventually re-enter the bloodstream.

Barbiturates are highly addictive and can cause dependency at an alarming rate. That being said, individuals abusing barbiturates are at high-risk for developing an addiction and should receive professional substance abuse help immediately.

What are Barbiturates?

In order to understand barbiturate addiction, you must first understand exactly what a barbiturate is. By definition, barbituates are sedative-hypnotic drugs that are used in the treatment of insomnia, severe anxiety, seizure disorders, and pre-procedural sedation. While barbiturates effectively treat these issues, medical professionals typically use safer and less addictive drugs.

Barbiturates are controlled substances due to their potential for abuse, physical dependency, and addiction. Some of the most common forms of barbiturates include:

  • Luminal (phenobarbital).
  • Brevital (methohexital).
  • Seconal (secobarbital).
  • Butisol (butabarbital).
  • Fiorinal (butalbital).

Phenobarbital, or Luminal, has a very narrow therapeutic range. In other words, this medication must be administered at exactly the right dosage in order to be safe and effective. Individuals taking this barbiturate medication in order to control, seizures are regularly monitored to assure that the drug concentration in their body is at the correct and safe range. Unfortunately, individuals abusing barbiturates like phenobarbital are unlikely to visit a doctor in order to test their levels. Due to this, illicit users of barbiturates are at extremely high risk for quickly boosting their concentration of the drug to toxic levels in their bodies.

Even in short-term usage of barbiturates, if these substances are taken in excess they can cause dangerous side-effects and potentially deadly effects. Additionally, it is extremely common for individuals addicted to barbiturates to mix this drug with other substances, such as stimulants, alcohol, or narcotic painkillers. As a result, the risk of adverse effects is even higher.

Signs of Barbiturate Abuse

Oftentimes, individuals abusing barbiturates are attracted to their pleasant psychoactive effects, which are similar to alcohol. Some of the common effects of barbiturates include making the user feel happier, more relaxed, extremely talkative, and less inhibited. As previously stated, individuals may swallow barbiturates in pill form, intravenously inject them, or crush them up and snort them. Abusing barbiturates is extremely dangerous and can lead to devastating short- and long-term physical and psychological side effects, physical dependency, addiction, and accidental death.

Some common signs of barbiturate addiction may include, but are not limited to:

  • Increased talkativeness.
  • Elation.
  • Reduced inhibition.
  • Impaired judgment.
  • Emotional fluctuations.
  • Sedation (users may seem really relaxed or drowsy).
  • Slurred speech.
  • Lack of coordination (users may fall over frequently).
  • Confusion.

Effects of Barbiturate Abuse and Addiction

Individuals who are abusing barbiturates will exhibit signs similar to those who abuse alcohol. If you believe if your loved one is addicted to barbiturates, there are physical, mental, and social effects of barbiturate abuse that you should be aware of.

The common physical effects of barbiturate abuse include:

  • Increased sensitivity to sound.
  • Increased sensitivity to pain.
  • Changes in blood pressure.
  • Breathing difficulties.
  • Increased risk of developing bronchitis and pneumonia.
  • Irregular menses in women.
  • Sexual dysfunction.
  • Increased risk of kidney failure.
  • Respiratory depression.
  • Coma
  • Death

Common mental effects of barbiturate abuse may include:

  • Anxiety, restlessness, or panic.
  • Impaired mental functioning.
  • Emotional instability.
  • Loss of short- or long-term memory.
  • Insomnia.
  • Hallucinations.
  • Depression.

Individuals abusing barbiturates will also suffer from occupational and social functioning effects. These side effects may include:

  • Occupational issues or job loss.
  • Loss of interest in hobbies and responsibilities.
  • Strained relationships.
  • Neglect of self-care, such as exercise and diet.
  • Fatalities.

If you or a loved one are abusing barbiturates and have been displaying any of the previous symptoms, it may be time to get help. Barbiturate dependency can lead to an individual experiencing severe symptoms of withdrawal when a person stops using the substance. Due to this, individuals suffering from barbiturate addiction should attend a medial detoxing facility in order to ensure safety and comfort.

Symptoms of Barbiturate Withdrawal

Because most barbiturates are related to short or intermediate-acting drugs, discontinuing the use of the drug can cause severe symptoms of withdrawal. Oftentimes, many of these symptoms will appear within the first few hours after the last use of barbiturates, However, these symptoms may last up to a few weeks depending on the dosage taken and how long an individual was abusing a said substance.

The symptoms of barbiturate withdrawal can include the following:

symptoms of barbiturate withdrawal

Barbiturate detox facilities are an extremely important step in the process of recovering from a barbiturate addiction. Medical experts can help administer the detox procedure, limit withdrawal impacts by gradually tapering, and giving clinical oversight. Since withdrawal symptoms can be very serious, clinical oversight during the withdrawal procedure is suggested. Treatment programs for a barbiturate addiction will have the option to help with withdrawal manifestations as well as defeating the endless cycle of abuse and addiction.

Barbiturate Addiction Treatment

In the event that you have been stuck in the cycle of barbiturates addiction, you may feel as if you can proceed with your existence without looking for proficient assistance or help. Notwithstanding, a barbiturates addiction can be lethal, negatively impacting your life, physically, mentally, and socially. Luckily, help is accessible to individuals who wish to defeat their addiction and unreservedly live their lives. The initial move towards conquering a dependence on barbiturates is to perceive the current issue. When you can discover that help is required, you can move towards finding an expert barbiturates addiction treatment program in order to conquer the fixation. While addiction to barbiturates can be overpowering for you or your loved ones, this fight doesn’t need to be battled alone.

Having the assistance of an expert treatment team or rehab program can allow for the best care and eventually, give you the hope and coping skills you need in order to conquer your addiction. If you would like to beat barbiturate addiction, give Agape Treatment Center a call today! Not only will our staff help you to become free from substance abuse, but you will also learn how to live your life in a happy and successful manner.