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Barbiturate Abuse: What Is the Real Story?

someone struggling with barbiturates abuse sits on the floor in a dark room

While originally developed as medical anesthesia, the detrimental effects of barbiturates quickly became apparent, and barbiturates abuse is now a very real story for many Americans. Rather than exciting the brain, barbiturates work by depressing the central nervous system, which produces a sedative effect in the brain and in the body. Knowing what barbiturates abuse looks like, as well as how addiction and overdose manifest in someone using these drugs, is crucial. The good news is barbiturates addiction can be treated. But since withdrawal symptoms from barbiturates abuse can be life-threatening, it is crucial to understand the drugs and how to get the help you need to recover from abuse and addiction.

At Northpoint Recovery, we provide treatment for barbiturates addiction and abuse. We have programs to help those struggling with addiction, including 12-step programs, individual counseling, group therapy, and more. With our team of experienced professionals, we are here to support you on your journey to recovery. Call 888.296.8976 today to learn more about our barbiturates addiction treatment program.

What Are Barbiturates and How Can They Be Abused?

Barbiturates were first developed as a medical response to symptoms of stress on the central nervous system, such as insomnia, anxiety, and even seizures. Later, the drug was even used as a treatment for the side effects of using illicit drugs. While the use of barbiturates has gone down a great deal in the last several decades, and doctors are prescribing the drug less and less, illicit barbiturate use is still an issue today.

Common barbiturates included:

  • Secobarbital (Seconal)
  • Pentobarbital (Nembutal)
  • Amobarbital (Amytal)
  • Butabarbital (Butisol)

The Dangers of Barbiturates

A barbiturate overdose occurs when someone takes more than the normal or recommended amount of this medicine. At fairly low doses, barbiturates may make you seem drunk or intoxicated. Barbiturates are addictive. People who use them become physically dependent on them, and an overdose is life-threatening.

The danger in barbiturates abuse is that it is extremely difficult to predict exact doses, making overdose a very real possibility for many users. To compound their danger is the fact that barbiturates are highly addictive. While some forms of barbiturates are available on the street, the vast majority of people who develop a dependence start using the medicine as it is prescribed, only to start abusing it slowly over time. Some of the signs that barbiturates have been abused include:

  • Difficulty in thinking clearly
  • Drowsiness
  • Severe lack of coordination
  • Slowed and slurred speech
  • Entering a coma
  • Failure in judgment or logic
  • Sluggish movements or a staggering walk

Because an accurate dosage is difficult to determine, barbiturates abuse is not an uncommon experience. Unfortunately, this type of abuse of the drug can also lead to long-term addiction, making it much more difficult to stop using barbiturates altogether.

What Does Barbiturates Addiction Look Like?

Over the long term, barbiturates abuse can often lead to complete addiction to the drugs. When this occurs, the body becomes accustomed to the effects of the drug, a tolerance is built up, and overdose becomes an even more likely scenario. Their inherently addictive nature is just part of what makes barbiturate medications so dangerous to use, particularly for those already prone to addictive behaviors. Prolonged barbiturates abuse can lead to symptoms that go beyond behavioral and physical symptoms. Through either excessive or long-term barbiturates abuse, those using the drug may see chronic symptoms, including:

  • A decrease in overall alertness
  • Lowered functioning on a daily basis
  • Repeated or continued irritability
  • Memory loss

If you see these chronic symptoms continue over an extended period of time in either yourself or someone you know, they may be signs of addiction to the drug. This is not only a possibility—it is a likely scenario in cases of extended use and abuse. More specifically, if someone takes barbiturates on a daily basis for any longer than a month, then their brain develops a physiological need for the drug. This is what causes barbiturate addiction and, in turn, the severe withdrawal symptoms associated with quitting barbiturates altogether.

Barbiturates Withdrawal Symptoms

Barbiturates withdrawal symptoms can be intense and vary in severity depending on the individual, their usage level, and the type of barbiturate being used. The most common symptoms seen during the withdrawal process are:

  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Insomnia
  • Tremors
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Increased blood pressure and heart rate

Withdrawal from barbiturates is often a difficult and uncomfortable process and should not be attempted without the help of a medical professional familiar with the effects of barbiturate addiction. Withdrawal can begin as soon as 12 hours after the last dose but usually peaks within three days. In extreme cases, withdrawal can last for weeks.

Managing withdrawal symptoms can be slightly easier when done in the care of a doctor or other healthcare professional. These professionals can assist with reducing symptoms and provide support for individuals looking to successfully manage their addiction. It is possible to recover from barbiturate addiction, but it will take dedication, hard work, and time. At Northpoint Recovery, our barbiturates addiction treatment program provides the tools and support our patients need to get and stay sober.

How to Get Help for Barbiturates Abuse and Addiction

There is no home remedy for barbiturates abuse, and there is no safe way to withdraw from the drug without medical supervision. If you believe that someone has been abusing barbiturates, you should get them to a medical facility that can handle the situation appropriately as soon as possible. If you or someone you know has been addicted to or abusing barbiturates for an extended period of time, it is time to get the help you need to overcome your addiction to and dependence on the drug.

While there is no antidote to barbiturate addiction, inpatient rehab facilities like Northpoint Recovery in Boise, ID can help you manage the withdrawal symptoms as you rid your body of the toxins associated with the drug. Recovery and rehabilitation are about developing the coping skills and strategies you need to stay away from the addictive drug for good after getting sober. One of the best ways to develop these skills is through a recovery program, which focuses on setting you up for long-term success in recovery.

If you or someone you know has suffered from barbiturates abuse, contact Northpoint Recovery today by calling 888.296.8976.