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Barbiturate Addiction Treatment

Barbiturates are depressant drugs made from barbituric acid. They work as anesthetics and anti-anxiety medication. Barbiturates are highly addictive drugs that have mostly been replaced by benzodiazepines in medical treatment. In the US, barbiturates are Schedule II, III and IV drugs. 

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What Are Barbiturates Used For?

For years, barbiturates were used to treat anxiety. Due to the high addiction factor and the lack of an antidote for barbiturate overdoses, doctors replaced these drugs with benzodiazepines and nonbenzodiazepines, which are less addictive and easier to manage.

  • Anesthesia – Barbiturates can treat temporary and chronic pain. They can be used to induce anesthesia in preparation for surgeries.
  • Epilepsy – Barbiturates can treat excessive brain cell activity. Barbiturates can help remedy cognitive and behavioral problems caused by head trauma and brain injuries.
  • Migraines – Barbiturates can treat migraines and acute tension headaches.
  • Euthanasia – In terminal dogs, vets use phenobarbital in high doses to induce a seizure and stop the heart.

Pregnant women and seniors are especially vulnerable to the dangerous side effects of barbiturates. The older body is less capable of cleansing away barbiturates.

Common Side Effects of Barbiturates

Barbiturates have numerous side effects that range from benign to serious. The milder side effects include: 

  • Nausea – Barbiturates can make users feel dizzy, disoriented, wobbly and weak. 
  • Hypotension – As depressant drugs, barbiturates can lower blood pressure and make the heart run slower. This has calming and sedative effects but can also bring the heart to a stop if the dose is exceeded.
  • Headache – While barbiturates can work for headache relief, they can also cause headaches if they induce nausea, which sometimes leads to headaches. If a person experiences appetite loss due to nausea, he/she might skip a meal and get a hunger headache.
  • Drowsiness – Barbiturates are sometimes used as sedatives. At small doses, barbiturates can help patients overcome insomnia and sleep sound for a solid 6-8 hours.
  • Rashes – Barbiturates can cause skin rashes on the chest, armpits, elbows, forearms and other body parts.

Examples of commercially available barbiturates in the US include amobarbital (Amytal), butabarbital (Butisol), pentobarbital (Nembutal) and secobarbital (Seconal).

Dangers of Barbiturates

Barbiturates can be dangerous once overuse and addiction take hold. Some of the more malignant symptoms and warning signs include:

  • Confusion – Barbiturate abuse can leave a person muddled, cloudy-headed, forgetful, dizzy and sub-optimal.
  • Coma – A barbiturate overdose could send a person into a coma. This has been used in treatment to send patients into temporary comas.
  • Hallucination – People often don’t think straight and hallucinate sounds and sights while under the influence of barbiturates.
  • Fainting – The dizziness and nausea caused by barbiturates can make users lose consciousness.
  • Respiratory problems – Barbiturates can inhibit breathing and slow the lungs. Prolonged respiratory problems can deprive the brain of oxygen and cause brain damage.

Some of the rare but dangerous side effects of barbiturates include agranulocytosis, liver damage, megaloblastic anemia and Stevens-Johnson syndrome. If someone you know suffers any of these difficulties from using barbiturates, contact a doctor right away.

Treatment for Barbiturate Abuse

People become addicted to barbiturates through overuse of the medications, which causes tolerance. To get the same effects from the drug, the user exceeds the daily recommended dose of barbiturates. This can easily lead to an overdose.

For people struggling with barbiturate addiction, there are numerous treatment programs available across the US. At American rehab centers, the treatment process goes as follows:

  • Barbiturate detox – Detox is the stage where the barbiturate user enters a treatment facility and halts all use of the drug. During the first three days of detox, the patient will likely suffer withdrawal symptoms (panic, sweats, muscle cramps, headaches) and intense cravings. This generally passes once the drugs clear the system.
  • Residential treatment – After detox, the patient enters a rehab facility for one to three months of treatment. At residential facilities, patients practice health and wellness. Most programs follow a 12-step model where patients follow a daily structure and learn to lead lives free of depressant drugs. Residents also have counseling and group meetings.
  • Outpatient treatment – Not all patients wish to spend 30-90 days at a treatment center. The alternative is outpatient treatment, which takes place in the daytime and features the same activities. Outpatient programs are good for people with transportation and stable home lives, free of outside access to more drugs.
  • Aftercare – For patients who need to rebuild their lives after addiction, some centers offer additional support after the 30-90-day treatment programs. This may include support groups, sober housing and job-placement programs. 

Most treatment centers are located in peaceful, stress-free environments in rural and seaside settings. This gives patients the chance to free themselves of stress factors (social, environmental) that might otherwise feed into addictive behavior.

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Don't go through the process of recovery alone. There are people who can help you with the struggle you're facing. Get in touch with one today.

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Find Substance Abuse Treatment Centers

Barbiturates are highly addictive depressant drugs that cause strong physical dependence. People hooked on barbiturates often face severe withdrawal symptoms. However, continued abuse of barbiturates is often fatal.

If someone you know is abusing barbiturates, contact the nearby treatment centers and ask about their program options. Get your loved one into a center that offers supervised barbiturate withdrawal and addiction treatment. 

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