Barbiturate Addiction

Highest Standards, Nationally Recognized:

What are Barbiturates?

Barbiturates are potent and addictive drugs that act as central nervous system depressants. They are derived from a base of barbituric acid and produce a sedative effect. They are available in pill form and in liquid and can be effectively used as anesthesia. Barbiturates are both physically and psychologically addicting and present a problem for substance abusers who seek a downer effect on mood and body.

Called “barbs” on the street, barbiturates are a popular street drug that became well known in the 1960s. Barbiturates and their strong anesthetic effects were prescribed to treat seizures and anxiety. They were also used for insomnia and to help with sleep problems. Today, they have been replaced by other drugs that are considered safer alternatives. Barbiturates can last in the body up to two days.

Here are Some Common Barbiturates:

  • Phenobarbital
  • Amobarbital (Amytal)
  • Tuinal
  • Pentobarbital (Nembutal)
  • Secobarbital (Seconal)

How do Barbiturates Affect the Individual?

Barbiturates are addicting and dangerous because it is not easy to determine how much of the drug is too much. Even a small dose can have adverse effects, put an individual in a coma, or cause death. Weight, age and tolerance all contribute to how much a person feels the effect of each dose.

Similar in effect to alcohol or sleeping pills, small doses of barbiturates will reduce inhibitions and make the user feel drowsiness and a buzzed feeling, mixed with a calming sense. A larger dose will impart a heavier experience where the user may slur their speech and become easily confused. They often appear drunk with a stagger in their walk and their breathing slows down. Extreme doses can stop breathing altogether, induce a coma, and even cause death. The difference between a dosage that feels like a buzz and reduces tension and a dosage resulting in death is small.

Alcohol mixed with barbiturates is particularly dangerous because alcohol is also a central nervous system depressant. The effects of barbiturates may be compounded with the use of alcohol.

Recovery from Barbiturates at Avalon Malibu

At the Cottage House at Avalon Malibu, we focus on potential, not pathology. When individuals come to our residential treatment facility, they have often been taking various substances such as barbiturates.

Respiratory depression, hypotension, fatigue, irritability, sedation, confusion and unusual excitement are all possible effects and repercussions of using barbiturates. The relaxed high that barbiturates supply can cause addiction and physical dependence that may also develop with repeated use.

Some Side Effects of Barbiturates are:

  • Light-headedness
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Clumsiness
  • Depression
  • Confusion

More Unpleasant Effects of Barbiturates Include:

  • Bleeding sores on the lips
  • Wheezing
  • Chest pain and tightness
  • Fever
  • Muscle or joint pain
  • Bloated eyelids, face, or lips
  • Skin problems including rash, hives and scaly skin
  • Sore throat
  • Mouth sores

What are the Withdrawal Symptoms of Barbiturates?

Barbiturates need specialized care to withdraw from, because the demanding side effects can be dangerous. When the body becomes accustomed to taking barbiturates for any length of time, quitting the drug can become uncomfortable and painful. At the Cottage House at Avalon Malibu, we provide non-medically supervised, sub-acute detoxification in an inpatient setting, licensed to treat adults under the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS).

The Cottage House is a retreat where clients come and experience recovery with nutritional support and physician-supervised drug detox. Avalon Malibu provides support for barbiturate withdrawal, and medications are often prescribed to alleviate withdrawal symptoms that coincide with the use of barbiturates.

Some Withdrawal Symptoms Include:

  • Tremors
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Agitation
  • Hallucinations
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Seizures

Barbiturates can build up in the human body and as a person ages, the body becomes less able to cleanse itself of barbiturates. As a result of this, people over 65 are at high risk of experiencing dependency and overdose when using barbiturates.

When a woman is pregnant, barbiturates can pass through the mother’s bloodstream to her fetus. After birth, the child may experience withdrawal symptoms and have difficulty breathing. Also, nursing mothers who take barbiturates may transmit the drug to their babies through breast milk.

Utilizing an interdisciplinary approach that is collaborative and creative, Avalon offers a refuge that provides a nurturing and empowering therapeutic environment. Clients are encouraged to participate actively in their recovery by setting goals and learning new coping skills. This process supports emotional openness, improves self-esteem, revises cognitive distortions, and helps clients begin the process of changing, healing and recovery.

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