Barbiturate addiction is a serious issue facing many people, regardless of class or stage of life. The issue isn’t as discussed as often in those of other addictions, which often leads to addicted individuals suffering in silence.

Barbiturates were historically used to treat conditions such as anxiety, insomnia, and seizures, as well as to induce anesthesia. However, due to their high potential for abuse and overdose, the medical use of barbiturates has declined significantly in favor of safer alternatives such as benzodiazepines.

Located centrally in Portland, Crestview Recovery offers a comprehensive approach to barbiturate addiction treatment, guided by professionalism and compassion. With a team of dedicated experts, Crestview provides individuals with the tools and support necessary to navigate the challenges of addiction and embark on a path toward wellness.

What Are Barbiturates?

Barbiturates are a class of central nervous system depressants that were once commonly prescribed for their sedative, hypnotic, and anxiolytic properties. They act by enhancing the activity of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that inhibits brain activity, leading to a calming effect on the body.

Common examples of barbiturates include phenobarbital, pentobarbital, and secobarbital. Despite their decreased medical usage, barbiturates remain a significant concern due to their addictive nature and the associated risks of dependence and overdose.

What Are The Different Types Of Barbiturates?

Barbiturates encompass a diverse range of drugs classified based on their duration of action. They are typically categorized into four main groups: ultrashort-acting, short-acting, intermediate-acting, and long-acting barbiturates. They also have varying degrees of accessibility to the average person.

These drugs have a rapid onset of action and a short duration of effect. They are primarily used as intravenous anesthetics for surgical procedures. Examples include thiopental and methohexital.

These barbiturates have a relatively fast onset of action and a short duration of effect when taken orally. They are commonly used for patients with insomnia and those who need anxiety treatment. Examples include pentobarbital and secobarbital.

These drugs have a moderate duration of action, making them suitable for treating seizures and insomnia. They are also used as pre-anesthetic medications, with examples like amobarbital and butabarbital.

These drugs have a prolonged duration of action, making them suitable for managing epilepsy and certain types of insomnia. Examples include phenobarbital and mephobarbital.

What Are Barbiturates Prescribed For?

Barbiturates were historically prescribed for a variety of medical purposes due to their sedative, hypnotic, and anxiolytic properties. Some common uses included:

support group leader placing a hand on a veteran's shoulderAnxiety: Barbiturates were prescribed to alleviate symptoms of anxiety and promote relaxation.

Insomnia: Due to their sedative effects, barbiturates were used to treat sleep disorders (such as insomnia) by helping individuals fall asleep and stay asleep.

Seizures: Certain barbiturates, particularly phenobarbital, were utilized as anticonvulsant medications to control seizures in conditions such as epilepsy.

Anesthesia: Ultrashort-acting barbiturates like thiopental were employed as intravenous anesthetics for induction, as well as maintenance of anesthesia during surgical procedures.

However, the advent of safer alternatives such as benzodiazepines and non-barbiturate sedative-hypnotics led to the medical use of barbiturates declining significantly. This decline is due to concerns over their high potential for abuse and development of tolerance. Overdose can lead to respiratory depression and even death. As a result, barbiturates are now rarely prescribed, primarily reserved for specific medical situations where other treatments have proven ineffective or unsuitable.

What Are The Dangers Of Barbiturate Abuse?

Barbiturate abuse poses significant dangers to both physical and mental health due to its depressant effects on the central nervous system. Some of the key risks and dangers associated with barbiturate abuse include:

  • Addiction and dependence: Barbiturates have a high potential for addiction and dependence, meaning individuals who misuse them are at risk of developing a compulsive pattern of drug-seeking behavior and experiencing withdrawal symptoms when they attempt to quit using.
  • Overdose: Barbiturates can easily lead to overdose, especially when taken in high doses or combined with other substances such as alcohol or opioids. An overdose of barbiturates can result in severe respiratory depression, coma, and death.
  • Tolerance: Continued use of barbiturates can lead to the development of tolerance, meaning individuals require higher doses to achieve the desired effects. This can increase the risk of overdose and other adverse effects.
  • Respiratory depression: Barbiturates depress the central nervous system, leading to slowed breathing and decreased heart rate. In cases of overdose or misuse, severe respiratory depression can occur, potentially leading to respiratory arrest and death.
  • Cognitive impairment: Chronic abuse of barbiturates can result in cognitive impairment, memory problems, confusion, and difficulty concentrating.
  • Psychological effects: Barbiturate abuse can lead to mood swings, depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues.
  • Accidents and injuries: Impaired coordination and judgment caused by barbiturate use increase the risk of accidents, injuries, and dangerous behavior.

What Are The Short And Long-Term Effects Of Barbiturate Addiction?

Even early on in a dependence, there are immediate effects to barbiturate use. These effects may include:

Short-Term Effects

  • Euphoria and relaxation
  • Slurred speech
  • Impaired coordination
  • Confusion
  • Drowsiness
  • Respiratory depression
  • Low blood pressure
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Memory impairment

Long-Term Effects

  • Tolerance, requiring higher doses to achieve the desired effects
  • Physical dependence, leading to withdrawal symptoms when not using barbiturates
  • Cognitive impairment, including memory problems and difficulty concentrating
  • Mood disorders, such as depression and anxiety
  • Increased risk of accidents and injuries due to impaired coordination and judgment
  • Liver and kidney damage
  • Respiratory problems, including chronic bronchitis and pneumonia
  • Cardiovascular issues, such as heart disease and stroke
  • Relationship problems and social isolation
  • Overdose and death, especially when barbiturates are combined with other substances like alcohol or opioids.

What Are The Signs Of Barbiturate Addiction?

If someone is using barbiturates medicinally, there’s a risk that they’ll develop an addiction to them. If you start seeing these behaviors, it’s time to question if an addiction is forming:

  • Increased tolerance, needing higher doses to achieve the desired effects.
  • Withdrawal symptoms when not using barbiturates.
  • Preoccupation with obtaining and using barbiturates.
  • Neglecting responsibilities at work, school, or home due to barbiturate use.
  • Continuing to use barbiturates despite negative consequences.
  • Spending a significant amount of time obtaining, using, and recovering from the effects of barbiturates.
  • Changes in mood or behavior, such as irritability, mood swings, or depression.
  • Relationship problems, including conflicts with family members or friends.
  • Financial difficulties due to spending money on barbiturates.
  • Engaging in risky behaviors while under the influence of barbiturates, such as driving or operating machinery.
  • Attempts to quit or cut down on barbiturate use unsuccessfully.

What Is The Timeline For Detoxing From Barbiturates?

The timeline for detoxing from barbiturates can vary depending on factors such as the individual’s dosage, duration of use, and overall health. However, a general timeline for detoxification includes:

man sitting alone on edge of his bed

Withdrawal symptoms usually begin within hours after the last dose of barbiturates. Early symptoms may include anxiety, irritability, insomnia, tremors, and sweating.

Withdrawal symptoms often peak within the first few days. They may include more severe symptoms such as hallucinations, seizures, and intense cravings for barbiturates.

As the body begins to adjust to the absence of barbiturates, withdrawal symptoms gradually subside. However, some individuals may experience lingering symptoms such as insomnia, anxiety, and depression during this time.

Some individuals may experience protracted withdrawal symptoms, known as post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS), which can last for weeks to months after discontinuing barbiturate use. These symptoms may include mood swings, anxiety, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating.

It’s essential for individuals undergoing barbiturate detoxification to be under medical supervision to manage withdrawal symptoms safely and effectively. Medical professionals may prescribe medications, provide supportive care, and work to alleviate discomfort and reduce the risk of complications during detoxification.

Crestview Recovery Treats Barbiturate Addiction

two women supporting each otherCrestview Recovery offers specialized treatment for barbiturate addiction through a personalized approach that addresses the unique needs of each individual. We utilize a multidisciplinary approach to treating barbiturate addiction, utilizing various methods tailored to individual needs:

Medical Detoxification: Supervised detox helps manage withdrawal symptoms safely and comfortably.

Therapy: Individual and group addiction therapy sessions address underlying issues, develop coping skills, and foster emotional healing.

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT): Medications may be used to alleviate cravings, reduce withdrawal symptoms, and support recovery.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment: This addresses co-occurring mental health disorders alongside addiction for comprehensive care.

Holistic Therapies: Incorporation of holistic approaches such as yoga therapy, meditation, and art therapy help to promote overall well-being.

Education and Skill-Building: Equipping individuals with tools and resources to navigate challenges and maintain sobriety.

Aftercare Planning: We help to create a personalized aftercare program to support long-term recovery and prevent relapse.

By combining evidence-based practices with compassionate care, Crestview Recovery strives to empower individuals to overcome barbiturate addiction and build fulfilling, drug-free lives.

With a team of experienced professionals, we provide compassionate care in a supportive environment conducive to healing. If you or a loved one is struggling with barbiturate addiction, contact us today to learn more about our treatment options and take the first step towards a healthier, drug-free life.