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Barbiturate Abuse – What is the Real Story?

Barbiturate Abuse – What is the Real Story?

While originally developed as a medical anesthesia, the detrimental effects of barbiturate quickly become apparent, and barbiturate 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 barbiturate abuse looks like, as well as how addiction and overdose manifest in someone abusing the drug, is crucial for understanding the drug. The good news is barbiturate addiction can be treated. But since withdrawal symptoms from barbiturate abuse can be life threatening, it is crucial to understand the drug and how to get the help you need to recovery from abuse and addiction.

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 treatment for the side effects of using illicit drugs. While the use of barbiturate 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. “Barbiturates are drugs that cause relaxation and sleepiness. 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 physicall dependent on them, and an overdose is life-threatening.” The danger in barbiturate use 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. Used to treat everything from behavioral disorders to insomnia, many people may become addicted to the drug without even realizing it at first. While some forms of barbiturates are available on the street, the vast majority of people who become barbiturate addicts 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, barbiturate 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 Barbiturate Abuse & Addiction Look Like?  

Over the long-term, barbiturate abuse can often lead to complete addiction to the drug. 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 make barbiturate medications so dangerous to use, particularly for those already prone to addictive behaviors. Prolonged barbiturate abuse can lead to symptoms that go beyond the behavioral and physical symptoms above. Through either excessive or long-term barbiturate 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 possible – 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 sever withdrawal symptoms associated with quitting barbiturates altogether.

How to Get Help For Barbiturate Abuse & Addiction

It is worth noting again that barbiturate use can be extremely dangerous, not only because of the symptoms of abuse outlined above, but also since each of the signs may be a precursor to or sign of overdose. There is no home remedy for barbiturate 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 can help you manage the withdrawal symptoms as you rid your body of the toxins associated with the drug. Recovery and rehabilitation is not only about successfully withdrawing from barbiturate use in the detox stage – it is also about developing the coping skills and strategies you need to stay away from the addictive drug for good. 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 barbiturate abuse, you should know that this is the real story: help is not out of reach.