Types of Barbiturates

When people think of drugs of abuse, they often assume we're talking about the illegal variety. However, that's just not the case. Many prescription drugs can be abused as well and that is especially the case with barbiturates. Whether you take a medication containing a barbiturate by prescription or illegally---without a prescription, it's important that you know the facts about these depressants for your own information and safety.

What Are Barbiturates?

Barbiturates are actually known as CNS depressants or central nervous system depressants and are in this class of drug along with benzodiazepines. This means that they reduce activity in the CNS to create effects that span the gamut from sedation to anesthesia. And though benzodiazepines have mostly replaced barbiturates in medical use, the former can still be found in hospitals across the country.

For pill identification, visit our barbiturates pictures gallery.

Barbiturate Reference Table (list of barbiturates)

Chemical Name

Brand Name

Half Life

Allobarbital

n/a

n/a

Alphenal

n/a

n/a

Amobarbital

Amytal

Short

Aprobarbital

Alurate

Short

Brallobarbital

Vesparax (mixed)

No Reference

Butobarbital

Soneryl, Butisol

Short

Butalbital

Fiorinal, Fioricet

Medium

Cyclobarbital

Phanodorm

Medium

Methylphenobarbital

Prominal

Long

Mephobarbital

Mebaral

Long

Methohexital

Brevital

Very Short

Pentobarbital

Nembutal

Short

Phenobarbital

Luminal

Long

Secobarbital

Seconal

Short

Talbutal

Lotusate

Medium

Thiamylal

Surital

Very Short

Thiopental

Pentothal

Very Short

Why Are Barbiturates Prescribed?

A barbiturate may be prescribed for a variety of reasons, the list is extensive, but the most common use today is as an anesthesia for surgery. This form is hardly ever abused because they cause almost immediate unconsciousness. However, other forms like Phenobarbital are used in treating various seizure disorders as an anticonvulsant. Other uses of this form of barbiturate along with mephobarbital include treating anxiety, insomnia, epilepsy and delirium tremens.

How Do Barbiturates Affect the Body?

Barbiturates typically produce pleasant effects in the body such as reduced tension and calm. High doses can result in anesthesia or drowsiness. However, use over a prolonged period of time can cause you to build up a tolerance to the drug and require higher doses in order to achieve the same sort of effects. And while this drug may be prescribed by a doctor, it is still very possible to become addicted.

When used regularly, your doctor may prescribe a higher dose in order to help you achieve the same feelings once a tolerance begins to develop. However, this can result in dependence and both a psychological and physical addiction to the substance.

How Do Barbiturates Affect the Body When Abused?

Once addicted, a user of barbiturates will often seek out the drug to obtain the same kind of high as achieved before. However, doing this requires more and more of the drug. And this is where things get dangerous, because the higher the dose of the barbiturate you take, the more likely it is that you will overdose.

Barbiturate addicts abuse the drug to feel an extreme calm and contentedness. However, when "high" on this drug, you will experience many different symptoms including respiratory depression, low blood pressure, fever, confusion, impaired judgment, sedation and fatigue.

How Are Barbiturates Dangerous?

Unfortunately, abuse of this substance could lead to respiratory arrest, one of the primary causes of death in barbiturate abusers. Overdose symptoms include confusion, slurred speech, drowsiness, and fatigue and may even result in coma or death. If the drug is stopped suddenly, there is a high risk for withdrawal symptoms, which are very uncomfortable and even painful.

How Does One Go About Quitting Barbiturates?

Stopping use of barbiturates is not something to be taken lightly. And one important thing to remember is that it's not a wise idea to try to go it alone. With the high number and severity of withdrawal symptoms associated with these drugs, it is best you detox and recover in a drug treatment program. Then, once you get sober, you can participate in a sober living program to help keep you off the drugs.

Barbiturates do have legitimate medical uses but they are very easy to abuse, making them a rather dangerous substance, especially when you consider they are sometimes used to euthanize animals.

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To talk with other members of our community visit our barbiturates forum, or head directly to the discussion boards for Ambien, Quaaludes, or tranquilizers and a list of barbiturates related discussions.

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