Similar to opioids, barbiturates are drugs that are typically obtained legally through a doctor. Just like opioids, barbiturate drugs are also highly addictive. This means that many people might find themselves growing dependant or even addicted to the drug, through no fault of their own.
If you or someone you know finds themselves addicted to barbiturates, it’s important to know that there are ways to get treated for it and you don’t have to live the rest of your life suffering. If you’re suffering from barbiturate abuse or addiction, it is important to take a deeper look at what barbiturates are and how you can get help for treating substance use disorders.
Barbiturates are considered depressant drugs. These substances are typically used as an anesthetic, an anticonvulsant, a hypnotic, and a sedative. While they can be used to treat a wide variety of conditions and ailments, barbiturates are most commonly prescribed to treat anxiety, insomnia, and seizures, in addition to being used as an anesthetic for surgical procedures.
Barbiturates act as a central nervous system depressant, much in the same way benzos and sleeping pills do. It’s these sedative and hypnotic effects that make the drug not only so easy to abuse but also makes it easy to grow dependant and get addicted to due to the way it makes someone feel when on them.
Since barbiturates are used to treat a wide variety of ailments, in addition to their use during surgery, there are many different types of barbiturates that are available on the market. Some of the more commonly used and abused barbiturates include:
On the street, they are commonly referred to as downers, barbs, yellow jackets, and red birds. Since barbiturates were a popular drug of abuse during most of the 1900s, hitting their peak in popularity in the 1970s, those who are older tend to be the most likely to be addicted to them. These days, barbiturates are much less commonly abused than they were 40 or 50 years ago.
That also doesn’t mean that there are no cases of barbiturate abuse and addiction among the younger generation. In fact, with nearly a dozen barbiturates currently on the market, they are still able to be obtained with relative ease, both through a doctor’s prescription and on the street.
While the overall use of barbiturates has gone down significantly since they hit their peak in popularity in the 1970s, the addictive nature of these drugs has not changed. Barbiturates attach to a person’s GABA neurotransmitters and receptors much in the same way that benzodiazepines do.
As a result, it slows down a person’s overall brain activity in addition to providing a sense of relaxation, sedation, and even drowsiness. Over time, the individual’s body will grow more and more dependant on the need for these feelings. This means that it will take more and more of the drug in order to reach the desired effects. This can lead to dependency and even abuse pretty quickly.
As we mentioned, barbiturates are a depressant. They cause feelings of euphoria, relaxation, and overall calmness. As a result, they are used primarily to treat anxiety, help with sleep, and even reduce the chances for seizures. While these side effects might not seem bad at all and even might seem pleasant and enjoyable, they can change quickly when barbiturates are abused.
Some of the additional side effects of barbiturates that are commonly associated with abusing the drug include:
If you continue to use and abuse barbiturates over a long period of time, even after the side effects above have begun, you may experience more severe, long-term side effects and symptoms associated with prolonged use. Some of the more long-term symptoms include:
Many people who are addicted to barbiturates or have grown severely dependant on these drugs acknowledge that they have a problem and might even want to stop taking the substance.
Unfortunately, the symptoms associated with withdrawing from barbiturates can be so severe and uncomfortable that they might just feel that they have to continue using the drugs in order to avoid feeling and experiencing those things. Some of the symptoms commonly associated with barbiturate withdrawal are:
Due to the nature of the drug and just how addicting it is, many people begin to experience withdrawal symptoms as quickly as 8-16 hours after their last dose. These withdrawal symptoms can last anywhere from a day to several weeks depending on the severity of the addiction.
It’s also important to note that some of these withdrawal symptoms can be quite dangerous and even life-threatening if not treated properly. That’s why it’s necessary when to end substance abuse under the care of a trained medical professional.
Suffering from a barbiturate addiction can be a scary time not just for the individual, but for those around the person as well. The good news is that there are treatment options out there for barbiturate abuse. Individuals who suffer from substance abuse can get the help they need to live a happy, healthy, and drug-free life.
When the time comes to begin treatment, the first step is to undergo detox treatment. During the detox process, your body will rid itself of any and all harmful substances that are in it. This includes the barbiturates as well as any other drugs or alcohol you might have been regularly ingesting.
Again, the symptoms and side effects associated with barbiturate withdrawal can be unpleasant and even dangerous if you try to deal with them on your own. That’s why it is both important and, often, necessary to go through the withdrawal process under the supervision and guidance of medical specialists and professionals. This can be done at either a hospital, a dedicated detox facility, or a treatment center that also offers detox services such as Free by the Sea.
Trained medical professionals will be able to monitor how your body reacts to the detox process and provide anything that might help alleviate some of the symptoms such as certain medications or even certain foods.
Once detox has been completed, addiction treatment can begin. There are many different options when it comes to treatment for barbiturate abuse, with the most popular being residential and outpatient treatment. Your treatment professional will likely recommend a treatment plan for you based on a variety of factors such as the nature of the addiction as well as a variety of other factors.
At Free by the Sea, we are happy to offer a wide variety of treatment methods from the more traditional ones to even some alternative therapy options. In addition to our inpatient and outpatient programs, we offer many alternative and complementary programs including:
Like opioids and even some benzos, barbiturates have the distinction of being medically prescribed to treat very specific ailments. Also similar to those other substances, people taking them can easily become addicted to them through no fault on their own. Factor in the ease in which people can obtain them and the many different ways in which they can be ingested and you have the potential for a very dangerous substance.
The good news is, though, that there are treatment options available for those suffering from barbiturate abuse and addiction. It is important to get treated in a facility where you can be constantly looked after and cared for by trained medical and addiction professionals.
At Free by the Sea, we are proud to offer a variety of treatment programs for not only barbiturate abuse and addiction but also for a variety of other substance abuse and mental health conditions. If you or someone you know is suffering from an addiction and could benefit from entering one of our many treatment programs, contact us today. We want to get you the help that you need so you can live a happy, healthy, and substance-free life!
Dr. Richard Crabbe joined our team in 2019 as our psychiatrist and medical director. He attended the University of Ghana Medical School where he became a Medical Doctor in 1977. From 1978 through 1984, he was a medical officer in the Ghana Navy and provided a variety of services from general medicine to surgeries. He received his Certificate in General Psychology from the American Board of Psychology and Neurology in 2002.