Drugs Classified as Barbiturates
Barbiturates reduce excitability in the brain to create a sedative and calming effect. It is a group of drugs that belongs to the sedative-hypnotic class which causes feelings of reduced anxiety. Barbiturates were once given to individuals suffering from sleep-related disorders to help induce sleep and ease anxiety symptoms. Also known as “reds,” “downers,” “yellow jackets” and “goofballs,” barbiturates were popular during the 1960s and 70s and quickly became abused. These drugs work by improving the activities of GABA, an inhibitory neurotransmitter. This action blocks significant portions of the brain and produces relaxing and sedative effects.
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Medical professionals eventually started to realize that barbiturates were a very addictive and dangerous class of drugs as the dose needed to create calming effects was similar to the amount that could cause death and death. As such, they started to stop using barbiturates and used benzos instead to reduce the mortality risk.
Barbiturates are found in liquid form or multicolored pill capsules. These drugs are usually used in pill form, but barbiturates can also be injected intravenously to produce faster effects. The length of time its effects last depends on the formulation. Some barbiturates last only minutes while others last up to several days. These are called fat-soluble drugs that are capable of easily crossing the blood-brain barrier. The drugs dissolve in fats, so they can build-up in the body and enter the bloodstream again at a later time.
Barbiturates are becoming more popular once again today. One of the possible reasons is the increase in quantity of stimulants being abused these days. Some may use barbiturates to neutralize the nasty symptoms of drugs like methamphetamines and cocaine. Many individuals who abuse barbiturates also suffer from a co-occurring disorder. Some of the most common disorders are bipolar disorder, depressive disorders, conduct disorder, anxiety disorders, alcoholism and substance abuse.
There are various types of barbiturates and the main difference among them is the duration of their effects. Long-acting drugs may even last up to two days. The effects of short-acting drugs, on the other hand, last a few minutes. Although barbiturates are usually ingested in pill form, these drugs can also be injected into the muscles or veins. Barbiturates are classified in terms of the duration of its effects. The duration is based on 3 categories – long duration, very short duration and short duration.
Long-acting barbiturates are usually used to reduce seizure activity and for sedation. Methylophenobarbital, phenobarbital and mephobarbital are some examples of long-acting barbiturates. The effects of these drugs can last from a couple of hours to several days, increasing the need to monitor this kind of substance. Abusing barbiturates can lead to respiratory arrest or worse, death. As such, it is important that it is taken under the direction of a medical professional.
Very Short Duration
The effects of drugs with a very short duration last for 20 minutes. Methohexital, sodium thiopental and thiamylal are examples of such drugs. The quick and short results of these drugs make it an efficient and effective substance for pre-surgical initiation of those who’ll be subjected to general anesthesia.
Short-acting barbiturates last up to 40 minutes. These drugs take longer to be activated than the very short type, but they last for a longer period of time. Short-acting barbiturates usually last for 5 to 6 hours. Examples of such drugs include apropbarbital, phentoarbital, amobarbital, secobarbital and butobarbital. In certain cases, veterinarians use phentobarbital to euthanize an animal. These substances have also been abused by some people for recreational purposes.
Barbiturate Addiction Causes
The exact cause for addiction to barbiturates is unknown. No one knows why a person becomes addicted to barbiturates while others don’t. It has been suggested that some people who become addicted to barbiturates and other drugs do so due to various factors that work together to create this potential for addiction. Here are some of the possible causes for barbiturate addiction.
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People will sometimes use barbiturates to neutralize the effects of another substance. This causes one to develop addiction to barbiturates as they start to depend on its effects to relax and get rid of the anxiety caused by another drug. Some people may be suffering from a mental health condition they are not aware of and administer medicines by themselves to try to control the disturbing symptoms.
Those who have used and abused drugs at an early age are more likely to develop addiction later on. They may have learned that drug abuse is the best way to deal with the things happening in their life. In turn, it becomes an addiction problem.
People with barbiturate addiction may have a different brain functionality and structure than others. The GABA binding of those with barbiturate addiction may be structurally differently in others. Some people may have innate defects in this part of the brain and take barbiturates on their own to try to feel more normal.
Many people who have addiction issues have a first-degree family member who is also suffering from an addiction. This doesn’t guarantee that a person will develop an addiction, but this does significantly increase the possibility of becoming addicted.
There’s a small difference between an amount that can lead to serious consequences such as death or coma and an amount that can lead to a high or drowsiness. Barbiturates are very addictive and extended use can lead to reliance on the drug. If one doesn’t take the drug, they may also suffer from withdrawal symptoms.
Signs of Barbiturate Abuse
Barbiturates are usually used to give an individual a drowsy, relaxed feeling. They won’t have inhibitions, have slurred speech, may walk unevenly as well as experience reduced anxiety. A person who abuses barbiturates may show the following signs:
- Difficulty thinking
- Shallow and slow breathing
- Slow talking
- Poor judgment and coordination
- Stumbling, staggering or failure to walk properly
- Extreme drowsiness or coma
A person who has used too much of barbiturates for too long can stop to function at an efficient or expected level. They can have little memory, be irritable and lack awareness of dangers, their problems and surroundings. As mentioned, the difference between a dose causing coma or death and an amount causing sleepiness may be small. This is known as a narrow therapeutic index in the medical professional. It is the ratio of a toxic dose to a drug’s medicinally desirable dose.
This is why barbiturates are very risky and not often given today. Aside from its narrow therapeutic index, barbiturates are additive as well. If taken every day for longer than around one month, the brain develops a reliance on the barbiturate that causes withdrawal symptoms if the person stops using the drug.
Barbiturates Withdrawal Symptoms
Some of the most common symptoms of withdrawal include the following:
- Difficulty sleeping
- High temperature
How Barbiturates Affect the Body
Barbiturates may be given for various reasons. Today, the most common use of barbiturates is as an anesthesia. This form of barbiturates is rarely abused as it causes almost instant unconsciousness. Other types of barbiturates such as phenobarbital are used as an anti-convulsant to treat different seizure disorders. Phenobarbital and mephobarbital are also used to treat delirium tremens, insomnia, anxiety and epilepsy.
Barbiturates usually create pleasing effects in the body like calm and reduced anxiety. High doses of this drug can lead to sleepiness or anesthesia. On the other hand, using barbiturates over an extended period of time can cause an individual to develop a tolerance to the drug and need higher amounts to get the same effects. Barbiturates may be prescribed by a physician, but the possibility of becoming addicted is still present.
The physician may also recommend a higher dose to help an individual get the same feelings once they begin to develop tolerance to the drug. This is usually the case when the drug is used on a regular basis. This can lead to dependence as well as a physical and psychological addiction to barbiturates.
Couples and Drug Abuse
Drug abuse with couples is more common that one would think. Whether married or just in a relationship/partnership, those who abuse drugs together are at risk for relationship issues as well as personal problems that come from substance abuse. One of the best couples rehabs is located in Orange County California and offers couples behavioral therapy as well as personalized individual treatment.
Barbiturates Street Names
- Red Dolls
- Yellow Jackets
How Addiction to Barbiturates Affects the Body
A person who is addicted to barbiturates will often look for the drug to get the same high they have experienced before. By doing this, they need a higher dose of the drug. Things can get dangerous since the higher the amount you take, the higher the chances that you’ll overdose. Individuals who use barbiturates abuse it to feel great satisfaction and calm. An individual who is high on barbiturates will experience various symptoms such as fatigue, confusion, low blood pressure, respiratory depression, poor judgment and drowsiness.
Dangers of Barbiturates
Abuse of barbiturates could result in respiratory arrest, which is one of the main causes of death in those who abuse the drugs. Overdose symptoms include drowsiness, fatigue, confusion, slurred speech and coma or death. If you stop using the drug suddenly, you may suffer from withdrawal symptoms which can be painful and uncomfortable.
When to Get Medical Care
The physician can’t give the right treatment for drug abuse over the phone. If you or a family member suffers from barbiturate abuse, you should call 1-714-443-8218 today and talk with one of our certified counselors.
A person may seem drunk or sleepy soon after taking the drug, but more severe symptoms can develop suddenly and quickly. If you cannot arouse the person or he is sleepy, you should seek immediate treatment right away. You should also bring any pill bottles, leftover pills or other drugs the person may have ingested to the hospital.
Tests to Determine Barbiturate Use
Barbiturate use can be determined through a urine test. However, diagnosis in the emergency department of the hospital focuses on diagnosing other possible reasons for the individual to be sleepy like shock, head injury, infection, stroke or other drugs ingested. This occurs while the individual is being treated. An electrocardiogram or ECG will also be conducted to assess the heart rhythm of the person. The patient will have his blood drawn. He will also have an IV started. Other tests that will be conducted depend on the patient’s situation.
Treatment for Barbiturate Abuse
Self-care is not advised. If you think a family member or friend has abused barbiturates, you should take him to the hospital for proper evaluation. Remember that barbiturates have a narrow therapeutic index. If not taken properly, this drug can cause coma and even death. This is particularly true in elderly persons and children.
Treatment for barbiturate overdose or abuse is mostly supportive. The amount of support needed depends on the symptoms of the patient. A breathing machine is used if the patient isn’t breathing. The machine will ensure that the patient can breathe properly until the drugs have subsided. If the patient is sleepy but conscious and can breathe well and swallow, you may only need to watch him closely.
Most patients receive activated charcoal in liquid form to bind to the drug in their stomach. The person may drink the liquid activated charcoal or it can be administered by putting a tube into the patient’s stomach through the mouth or nose. Most patients are observed in the hospital emergency department for several hours. Sometimes, they have to be admitted to the hospital for extra treatment and monitoring. Other treatments depend on the patient’s situation.
There are cases when one needs prolonged therapy to avoid withdrawal symptoms. Those who are addicted to barbiturates are treated with diminishing amounts of barbiturates until they are free from the drug. This is called detoxification.
With belligerent treatment, most patients survive. However, there are times when those who overdose eventually die even with aggressive treatment. The result of treatment depends on various factors such as the other medical concerns of the patient, other drugs taken, which barbiturate the patient abused and how quickly the person got medical attention.
It is not a wise idea to stop using barbiturates on your own. The severity of withdrawal symptoms should be enough to convince you to detox and join a drug treatment program for your full recovery. Participating in a sober living program after your recovery can help you stay away from the drugs.
Please call us at 1-714-443-8218 today to get help for you or your loved one’s struggle with addiction.