Drug and Alcohol

Barbiturates: Everything You Need To Know

Barbiturates Addiction: Symptoms & Treatment

Barbiturate addiction, while rare, is still dangerous. Learn more about this dangerous class of prescription drugs in our blog!

Written by

brian-mooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

jeremy-arztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

Drug and Alcohol

January 4, 2023

Drug addiction is a chronic disease, yet treatable when treatment is received timely. Among the dangerous addictions known and affecting humans, barbiturates addiction is one of them. Barbiturates have largely been replaced with benzodiazepines, but are still often abused.

In this regard, all the crucial aspects of this form of prescription drug abuse have been mentioned further to raise awareness among individuals looking for remedies for recovery.

What Are Barbiturates?

Barbiturates are commonly used medications as prescribed by doctors at the time of anesthesia during surgeries. These are also used to prevent the effect of convulsions and seizures and treat epilepsy or non-epileptic seizures, or insomnia.

Due to its hypnotic or sedative effect, barbiturates addiction has become extremely prevalent in the whole world. However, despite its advantages, this medication affects the brain's normal function by increasing a brain chemical known as Gama-Amino-Butyric Acid (GABA).

What Are Barbiturates Used For?

Though barbiturates are no longer widely prescribed, they can still be found in some medications and recreational drugs. Most commonly, barbiturates are used to treat severe insomnia, anxiety disorders, and seizure disorders. Barbiturates may also be prescribed as a short-term treatment for alcohol withdrawal or other medical conditions.

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What Are the Advantages of Barbiturates?

Barbiturates have some advantages over other sedatives in terms of their effectiveness and speed of action. They are also relatively inexpensive, making them an attractive option for those who cannot afford more expensive medications or treatments.

Barbiturates can also be helpful in certain medical situations where other treatments may not be effective. For example, barbiturates may be used to treat people with severe insomnia that does not respond to other treatments.

What Are the Disadvantages of Barbiturates?

Despite their advantages, barbiturates can also be very dangerous if misused or abused. They have a high potential for addiction and overdose, making them much riskier than other sedatives such as benzodiazepines.

In addition, barbiturates can interact with other substances, such as alcohol or certain medications. This can increase the risk of dangerous side effects and overdose. For these reasons, it is important to only take barbiturates under the supervision of a qualified medical professional.

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Should I Drink Alcohol While Taking Barbiturates?

No! It is highly dangerous to mix alcohol and barbiturates. Alcohol can increase the sedative effect of barbiturates, leading to an increased risk of overdose or other serious side effects.

Are Barbiturates Dangerous?

Barbiturates can be dangerous if misused or abused. They have a high potential for addiction and overdose and can interact with other substances such as alcohol. For these reasons, it is important to only take barbiturates under the supervision of a qualified medical professional.

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What Are the Symptoms of Barbiturates Addiction?

Barbiturates addiction gained popularity among young adults for its effect as "brain relaxers" like alcohol. Not only this, but the effect of this medication is also quite similar to opioids, sleeping pills, painkillers, and antihistamines.

Some of the prominent symptoms of barbiturates addiction that affect one's behavior and physical and emotional quotient are listed below:

Effects on Behavior

Here are the following effects of barbiturates addiction on an individual’s behavior:

  • Difficulty in concentrating or focus

  • Improper speech or slurred voice

  • Showing aggression or violence

  • Speaking in a low voice

  • Behaving in a bold manner or intoxicated

  • Forgetting important work or other obligation

Effects on Mood

  • Relaxation or feeling of euphoria

  • Feeling high and mood swings

  • Feeling of agitation

  • Effects on Physical Quotient

  • Increase in the physical dependency

  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms

  • A feeling of drowsiness and dizziness

  • High fever or staggering sensation

  • Lower blood pressure

  • Breathlessness or shallow breathing

  • Repeated infections in the respiratory tract

  • Kidney failure and cardiovascular problems

  • Severe effects like coma and death

Psychological Effects

  • Chronic addiction

  • Paranoia and disorientation

  • Self-harming thoughts

  • Memory loss or change in the thinking pattern.

In addition to the effects mentioned above, there are a plethora of symptoms when the barbiturates addiction level increases. This addiction enhances the high risk of other detrimental diseases that not only affects the one with the addiction but his or her loved ones as well.

A List of Barbiturates: What Are Some Common Barbiturates?

Barbiturates are a class of drugs that were once used to treat everything from anxiety to epilepsy. Though they are not as widely prescribed today, barbiturates can still be found in some medications and recreational drugs.

Some of the common barbiturate drugs include:

  • Amytal Sodium (amobarbital)

  • Butabarbital (Buutisol sodium)

  • Luminal (Phenobarbital)

  • Mebaral (Mephobarbital

  • Nembital (Pentobarbital)

  • Nembutal Sodium (Pentobarbital)

  • Seconal (Secobarbital)

  • Seconal Sodium (Secobarbital)

  • Sezaby (Phenobarbital)

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What Are the Types of Barbiturates?

Doctors of different medical facilities recommend various types of barbiturates to cure seizures and other procedures. Some of the significant types are as follows:


This medication is mostly used with other supportive medications, including acetaminophen, caffeine, aspirin and codeine. Mainly doctors prescribe this medication to treat severe migraines and headaches caused due to tension.


Amobarbital is mostly recommended to treat insomnia; however, the following needs to be consumed for a short period of time. In addition to this, this medication is suggested during specific neurological tests and functions.


Methohexital is for short-term anesthesia that has a requirement for diagnostic treatment plans. Furthermore, doctors use this for treating procedures like electroconvulsive therapy.


The use of this medication is to treat and prevent seizures, and doctors recommend pentobarbital consumption during the pre-anesthesia stage.


Medical professionals recommend phenobarbital to prevent seizures or restrict them from occurring in the future.


The usage of primidone is to restrict convulsions and prevent the same in the future.


Lastly, secobarbital helps in treating insomnia; however, a number of doctors avoid prescribing it due to its detrimental side-effect.

According to the National Library of Medicine, most barbiturates, as mentioned above, are used for treating insomnia, anxiety, and even panic attacks. However, consumption of these medications, in the long run, will bring side effects.

What Are the Causes of Barbiturates Addiction?

There are a plethora of causes that a person can develop a serious tendency to barbiturates overdose; however, such causes vary from person to person.


There are some people who are born with a deficiency of a neurotransmitter which is dopamine. As dopamine provides a sensation of pleasure while performing a few activities like eating, many individuals take the help of barbiturates to control this deficiency of dopamine.


Often, an individual whose family member has an addiction to barbiturates has a high risk of developing the same. Though anyone can develop barbiturates addiction; however, genetics play a significant role in developing the cravings.


Generally, barbiturates prevent some other ailments like sleeping problems and anxiety, as per medical professionals. Moreover, therapists recommend this medication to lower the effects of other drugs like cocaine or methamphetamines. So, many times, improper use of this medication triggers addiction in young adults.


Most people with bipolar disorder and anxiety trigger addiction to barbiturates and relatable drugs. Individuals with untreated mental illness use these medications to lessen the symptoms and effects of anxiety which showers its counter effects.

To combat the side effects of barbiturates, it is quintessential to allow medical intervention and seek help from drug rehab. Moreover, various complications can arise that involve disruptions in heart functioning, breathing, and tolerance ability. However, with timely intervention and treatment, a complete recovery from this addiction is possible.

Are Barbiturates Different From Benzodiazepines?

Barbiturates and benzodiazepines are both sedative-hypnotic drugs. They have similar effects, but there are some differences between them.

Both barbiturates and benzodiazepines can cause drowsiness, reduce anxiety, induce relaxation, and help people fall asleep quickly. However, barbiturates work much more quickly than benzodiazepines. They are also more addictive and have a higher potential for abuse and overdose.

Barbiturates are usually used as a short-term treatment, while benzodiazepines can be used over the long term. Barbiturates may be prescribed for severe insomnia, seizure disorders, or anxiety that does not respond to other treatments. Benzodiazepines are often prescribed for panic disorders, insomnia, and anxiety.

What Is Barbiturates Withdrawal Like?

Barbiturate withdrawal can be very severe and potentially life-threatening. People who have been taking barbiturates for a long period of time may experience physical and psychological dependence on the drug.

When someone with a barbiturate addiction suddenly stops using the drug, they may experience severe withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, depression, shaking, sweating, nausea, and seizures. They may also experience delirium, confusion, fatigue, muscle pain, and hallucinations.

The severity of barbiturate withdrawal will depend on the individual’s level of addiction. It is important to note that barbiturate withdrawal can be fatal if not treated properly by a medical professional. It is recommended that those with a barbiturate addiction seek treatment from a qualified doctor or rehabilitation facility.

How Long Does Barbiturates Withdrawal Last?

The length of barbiturates withdrawal will vary depending on the individual and the type of barbiturate they were taking. Generally, barbiturates withdrawal can last up to two weeks or more. It is important for those who are going through withdrawal to be monitored by a medical professional as symptoms can worsen without proper treatment and supervision.

Can I Withdraw From Barbiturates Alone?

It is not recommended to withdraw from barbiturates alone, as the withdrawal symptoms can be severe and potentially life-threatening. It is important to seek treatment from a qualified doctor or rehabilitation facility in order to ensure safety and a successful recovery process.

At a rehabilitation facility, patients will receive medical supervision and support throughout the entire withdrawal process. They may also be given medications to help manage and reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms.

In addition to medical supervision, a rehabilitation facility can provide counseling and therapy to help patients address the underlying issues that led to their barbiturate addiction. Withdrawing from barbiturates can be a difficult process, but with proper care and support, it is possible to achieve a successful recovery.

Are Barbiturates Sill Prescribed by Doctors?

Barbiturates are not as widely prescribed by doctors today due to their high potential for abuse and overdose. Most doctors prefer to prescribe benzodiazepines instead since they have a lower risk of addiction and overdose.

However, barbiturates may still be prescribed in some cases where other treatments have failed. It is important to talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of using barbiturates before making any decisions.

What Should I Do If I Think I’m Addicted to Barbiturates?

If you think you are addicted to barbiturates, it is important to seek help from a qualified healthcare professional. A medical professional can provide an evaluation and determine the best course of action for your individual situation.

Depending on the severity of addiction, treatment options may include inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation programs, medication-assisted treatment, counseling, and support groups. With the right help and support, it is possible to overcome barbiturate addiction and achieve long-term sobriety.

What Are the Treatment Procedures Available to Cure Barbiturates Addiction?

As the effects of prescription barbiturates often bring detrimental threats to health, including death, immediate treatment and intervention are necessary. Here are the following potential treatment methods that have shown positive results over time:

Medically Supervised Drug Detox

The preliminary treatment of barbiturates addiction begins with clinically assisted drug detox. The patient undergoes this process under the guidance of medical professionals and includes the safe elimination of toxins of the drug from the body.

In addition, the time span taken to detoxify the harmful chemicals of barbiturates addiction varies from person to person. Moreover, caregivers and medical professionals must be careful when withdrawal symptoms start to show up.

Other Treatment Modalities

The treatment to combat the cascading effect of barbiturates overdose is possible with the help of a variety of therapies. Some of the noteworthy therapies include:

  • Art therapy

  • Biofeedback

  • Meditation

  • Music therapy

  • Equine therapy

  • Nutritional plans

  • Talk therapy

  • Yoga and exercise

As per a report by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, the treatment of different addictions, which involves barbiturates, opium extracts, morphine, cocaine, and dihydromorphine, makes the use of IV NAD+ as a cure.

In addition to this, an authorized treatment facility offers community and support groups to strengthen the bonds among people. This improves mental health from the effect of anxiety and stress and establishes an optimistic approach.

What Are the Withdrawal Symptoms of Barbiturates Addiction?

The withdrawal symptoms of barbiturates may cause some severe effects on the physical and mental health of an individual; hence must be performed under medical guidance. Some of the general effects of withdrawal symptoms include the following:

  • Difficulty in sleeping

  • Feeling of muscle shakiness and trembling

  • Experiencing agitation and restlessness

  • Hallucination

  • Difficulty in the respiratory tract

  • Extreme high body temperature

  • Cardiac arrest

  • Coma or death

Moreover, if a pregnant woman has a barbiturates addiction, chances are high for the baby to become addicted and possess some of the withdrawal symptoms.

What Are the Co-Occurring Diseases Associated with Barbiturates Addiction?

Individuals with barbiturates addiction have a high possibility of developing a co-occurring disorder, or a dual diagnosis. They include the following:

  • Depression and anxiety disorder

  • Conduct problems and bipolar disorder

  • Anti-social personality disorder

  • Other addictions to stimulants like methamphetamines and amphetamines

  • Schizophrenia

According to a survey conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in 2020, among the total population of people under the age group of 12 years or more, approximately 6.2 million of them are found to be under the ill practice of drug abuse concerning different sedatives, barbiturates and other drugs.

Barbiturates addiction has been increasing since the 1960s and 1970s due to its mild sedation effect. Though largely recommended to ease sleeping disorders and decrease the effect of anxiety in humans, any type of barbiturates is highly addictive. Hence, timely professional intervention is necessary to obtain the fastest recovery and speedy overcoming of its deadly symptoms.

Contact The Edge Treatment Center for Complete Recovery From Barbiturates Addiction

To remove the cascading of barbiturates addiction issues, it is pivotal to seek professional help. You can get treatment for barbiturates addiction at The Edge Treatment Center. Trained professionals at the facility know how severe barbiturates addiction can be and offer individualized and evidence-based treatment to cure the addiction.

Contact us today to learn more!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the severe danger associated with barbiturates addiction?

Some of the significant danger that has a connection with barbiturates addiction is coma and even death. The other symptoms of this life-threatening addiction involve lack of coordination, difficulty in concentration, and slurred speech.

What is the effect of barbiturates on the behavior of people?

The effect of barbiturates is immensely intense as it includes feeling a sense of euphoria, a decrease in anxiety, experiencing extreme relaxation, sleepiness, etc.

What are the prescribed names of barbiturates?

The prescribed names of barbiturates are Nembutal®, Pentothal®, Fiorina® and Seconal®.

What is a barbiturates overdose?

Doctors use barbiturate drugs for treating anxiety and sleeping disorder problems. An individual experiences a barbiturates overdose when he or she consumes more than the recommended amount by the doctor.

How long do barbiturates stay in your system?

Generally, the effects of barbiturates are found in the urine at least 24 to 72 hours after consumption of the same.

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