Drug and Alcohol

Butalbital: Learning About the Risks of This Barbiturate Drug

What is Butalbital?

Butalbital is a potent barbiturate that's still prescribed to treat headaches and other problems. Learn more about the risks of butalbital today.

In this article, we will explore Butalbital, a barbiturate medication people use to ease tension headaches by calming the nerves. Long-term use can lead to dependence, so it's important to use it responsibly. If you need to stop taking it, do so gradually with a doctor's guidance. Remember, managing pain safely is key, and you're not alone in this journey.

What Is Butalbital?

Butalbital is a medication that has helped people with headaches for many years. It is particularly effective for moderate migraines or frequent tension headaches. Butalbital is a member of the barbiturate class of drugs. Less used today due to their potential for addiction (they're also somewhat easy to overdose on), butalbital is still prescribed under brand names like Fioricet.

Doctors usually prescribe Butalbital to people who have not found relief with over-the-counter medicines and are not at high risk of dependency, such as those with occasional headaches. However, it's important to use this medicine responsibly, as people with frequent headaches can misuse it.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Butalbital Abuse?

If you or someone you care about is using Butalbital, it's important to be aware of signs that might indicate abuse or dependence:

  • Trouble focusing or remembering things

  • Feeling irritable, restless, or anxious often

  • Getting the medication without a prescription, or using more than what's prescribed

  • Spending a lot of time trying to get the drug, using it, or recovering from its effects

  • Going to different doctors to get more of the drug (a practice known as "doctor shopping")

  • Isolating oneself or spending time with others who misuse drugs

  • Reacting defensively or angrily when someone brings up their drug use

If you recognize these signs in yourself or someone else, it's okay to ask for help. At Edge Treatment Center, we're here to support you with compassion and understanding. You're not alone, and there's hope for a healthier, drug-free future.

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Would you like more information about butalbital? Reach out today.

What Are the Symptoms Of Butalbital Overdose?

Overdosing on Butalbital or any barbiturate can be life-threatening, with some cases leading to fatal outcomes due to complications with the heart and lungs. It's a stark reminder of how quickly things can turn serious.

If you or someone you know has taken too much Butalbital and is showing severe symptoms like passing out or trouble breathing, don't hesitate to call 911 immediately.

Symptoms of a Butalbital overdose may include:

  • Persistent vomiting or nausea

  • Ringing in the ears

  • Slowed breathing

  • Extreme dizziness

  • Overwhelming drowsiness

Remember, it's never too late to seek help. At The Edge Treatment Center, we understand the challenges of overcoming substance abuse. We're here to provide support and a path to recovery, offering a chance for a new beginning. You're not alone in this journey.

What Are The Main Uses of Butalbital?

Butalbital is primarily used for the following purposes:

Tension Headaches

It is most commonly prescribed to treat tension headaches, which are characterized by a dull, constant pain felt on both sides of the head.


Although not its primary use, Butalbital can also be used to treat migraines in some cases, particularly when other treatments have not been effective.

Combination Medications

Butalbital is often combined with other medications, such as acetaminophen, aspirin, and caffeine, to enhance its effectiveness in treating headaches and migraines.

Pain Relief

In some cases, Butalbital may be used to provide short-term relief from other types of pain.

Anxiety and Sedation

Butalbital has calming effects and can be used to reduce anxiety and promote relaxation in certain situations.

If you have any concerns about your medication or if you feel you're becoming too reliant on it, please don't hesitate to reach out to us at Edge Treatment Center. We're here to support you in managing your medication responsibly and maintaining your recovery journey.

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What Are the Main Side Effects of Butalbital?

Butalbital can cause side effects like:

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Stomach discomfort

  • Dizziness

  • Sleepiness

If these symptoms persist or worsen, please let your healthcare provider know.

Most people don't experience severe side effects, but it's important to watch out for them. Contact your doctor right away if you notice:

  • Unusual tiredness

  • Dark urine or increased thirst

  • Easy bruising or bleeding

  • Fast or irregular heartbeat

  • Mood changes

  • Yellowing of the skin or eyes

  • Symptoms of kidney damage (changes in urine amount)

  • Severe stomach pain or trouble swallowing

  • Hearing changes (ringing in the ears)

In rare cases, Butalbital can cause a severe allergic reaction. Seek immediate medical help if you have trouble breathing, swelling of the face, throat, or tongue, or a severe rash.

Remember, your doctor prescribed Butalbital because they believe it will help you more than harm you. If you experience any side effects not listed here, or if you have concerns about your medication, please reach out to your healthcare provider or pharmacist for guidance. Your well-being is our top priority.

What Are Some Things to Be Aware of When Using Butalbital?

Before taking Butalbital, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to butalbital, caffeine, aspirin, other barbiturates, NSAIDs, xanthine derivatives, or salicylates. This medication may contain inactive ingredients that can cause allergic reactions.

Existing Health Conditions

Inform your healthcare provider about any health conditions you have, especially:

  • Heartburn

  • Mental/mood disorders

  • Liver or kidney disease

  • Nasal polyps

  • Enzyme deficiencies (such as G6-PD deficiency or pyruvate kinase)

  • Stomach/bowel issues (like ulcers)

  • Breathing problems (like asthma)

  • Blood clotting/bleeding disorders (like hemophilia)

  • Gout

  • History of drug or alcohol addiction

  • Heart disease (like recent heart attack or irregular heartbeat)

It's important to share your complete medical history to ensure safe and effective use of Butalbital.

Before Surgery or Procedures

Disclose Butalbital use and all medications to your healthcare provider.

Drowsiness and Dizziness

Butalbital may impair alertness; avoid driving and operating machinery.

Stomach Inflammation

It can cause stomach issues; avoid alcohol and smoking to reduce risks.

Aspirin in Butalbital

Risk of Reye's syndrome; avoid giving to children or teens after certain vaccines.

Effects on Older Adults

May cause enhanced drowsiness and stomach problems, raising fall risks.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Discuss risks with a doctor; avoid Butalbital late in pregnancy and during breastfeeding.

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Which Drugs Interact with Butalbital?

Drug interactions can change how your medications work or increase the risk of serious side effects. Keep a list of all the products you use, including herbal products, prescription and over-the-counter medications, and share it with your healthcare provider and pharmacist. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medications without your doctor's approval.

Some drugs that may interact with Butalbital include:

  • Mifepristone

  • Methotrexate

  • Acetazolamide

  • Ketorolac

  • Darunavir

  • Phenytoin

  • Gout medications (like sulfinpyrazone and probenecid)

  • Dichlorphenamide

  • 6-mercaptopurine

  • Lithium

  • Sodium oxybate

  • Certain antibiotics (like sulfonamides and penicillin)

  • Methoxyflurane

Treatment for Butalbital Addiction

If you or someone you know is struggling with Butalbital addiction, there is hope. Treatment can help you overcome dependence and start a new chapter in your life. Here's what the journey to recovery might look like:

Drug Detox

The first step is a medically supervised drug detox to safely manage withdrawal symptoms.

Ongoing Care

After detox, you might continue your recovery in a residential program or with outpatient care, depending on your needs.

Treatment for Other Issues

If you have any other health problems, they'll be addressed as part of your treatment.

Counseling and Therapy

Talking with a therapist can help you understand your addiction and learn new ways to cope.

Support Groups

Joining a group of others who are also in recovery can provide encouragement and understanding.


Even after the initial treatment, ongoing support is important to help you stay on track.

At The Edge Treatment Center, we're here to support you every step of the way. You're not alone, and recovery is possible.

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Would you like more information about butalbital? Reach out today.

Getting Help for Butalbital Addiction

If you or someone you know is struggling with Butalbital addiction, it's important to know that help is available. At The Edge Treatment Center, we understand the challenges of overcoming addiction and offer a supportive and compassionate environment for recovery.

Our personalized treatment plans are designed to address not just the addiction but also any underlying issues that may be contributing to it.

We're here to help you find your way back to a healthier, happier life. Reach out to The Edge Treatment Center today to learn more about our programs and how we can support you on your journey to recovery.

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We’re Here to Help You Find Your Way

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, there is hope. Our team can guide you on your journey to recovery. Call us today.

Written by

brian-mooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

jeremy-arztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

Drug and Alcohol

March 12, 2024