Barbiturates are sedative-hypnotics that were prescribed more often in the 1960s and 1970s as an anti-anxiety medication. Today, they’re not prescribed as they have a high risk of dependence, abuse, and addiction. And, there are safer medications that can be used these days to treat anxiety, such as benzodiazepines.

However, some physicians may still prescribe barbiturates to manage seizure disorders or prep patients for surgery. They may also, in rare cases, be used to treat anxiety, headaches, and insomnia.

There are several different types of barbiturates. Some of the most common include:

  • Seconal
  • Butisol
  • Brevital
  • Luminal
  • Fiorinal

Even when they are used for a short duration, these drugs can cause deadly effects when the amount in the body reaches dangerous levels. They are even more dangerous since they are often used along with other drugs, such as stimulants, narcotics, and alcohol.

Signs of Barbiturate Addiction

When you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, it can be difficult to spot the signs before things worsen. The impact of drugs affects everyone in the family, and not just the person addicted to drugs. By recognizing the signs of addiction, you can take action and make a change before you or a loved one faces adverse consequences.

You may wonder what some of the signs of barbiturate addiction are. Typically, someone taking a barbiturate may experience an increase in talkativeness, reduced inhibition, impaired judgment, and more.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction to a barbiturate, here are some signs to watch for:


  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Unusual levels of excitement
  • A decrease in anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Depression


  • Decreased motor control
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Lack of coordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Feelings of sluggishness


  •  Dizziness
  • Loss of restful sleep
  • Fatigue
  • Slowed breathing
  • Visual problems
  • Inability to urinate
  • Dilation of pupils
  • Hypotension
  • Respiratory depression or arrest


  • High drug tolerance
  •  A slowing of brain function
  • Confusion
  • Inability to make sound judgments
  • Dependence on the drug
  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations

By recognizing the signs of barbiturate addiction, you can put together a treatment plan to help yourself or your loved one get the help they need. A substance abuse professional can be sought to help you and your family manage the distress caused by drug abuse and addiction in the home.

Health Effects of Barbiturates

The effects of long-term use of barbiturates appear in each person differently. Some common effects of barbiturate abuse include:

  • Changes in levels of alertness
  • Decreased functioning
  • Memory loss
  • Problems in personal relationships
  • Risk-taking behaviors
  • Respiratory problems
  • Damage to the liver, heart, and other organs
  • Confusion
  •  Irritability
  • Difficulty maintaining a steady job
  • Coma
  • Death

Withdrawal Symptoms

When barbiturates are taken for a prolonged period, you can become dependent on the drug and encounter symptoms of barbiturate withdrawal when stopping use of the drug. When you become dependent, it is more difficult to give up the drug and withdrawal symptoms may increase in intensity.

Common withdrawal symptoms experienced when abusing barbiturates include:

  • Delirium
  • Tremors
  •  Anxiety
  • Hallucinations
  • Agitation
  •  Nausea
  •  Vomiting
  • High fevers
  •  Seizures
  • Convulsions
  • Weakness
  • Inability to sleep

Treatment for Barbiturate Addiction

Barbiturates dissolve into the fats of the body, which can store drug residue within their cells. If someone has abused drugs, they may still have small deposits of the drug in their body that can cause problems when trying to leave the drug behind. This residue can cause a dimmed perception, trouble thinking, and making clear decisions, and it can trigger drug cravings that lead to a loss of sobriety.

One way to keep these symptoms at bay is by clearing these barbiturates out of the body. This is known as detoxing. There are plenty of drug treatment programs that have the tools to help you or a loved one get the help you need to leave drugs behind for good.

The Detox Process

Detoxing, or addressing the residue from drugs left over in the body, is a good way to make sure your cravings are kept at bay and easier to manage. The detox process usually lasts between five to seven days, but this can vary depending on how long you’ve been using, the dosage you’re using, the type of barbiturate you’re using, and other factors.

It’s best to detox under the care of a medical professional to be on the safe side. At the same time, using a sauna, exercising, and getting a daily dose of vital nutrients and minerals can help flush out these residues and allow the body to eliminate anything leftover. When these are removed, life becomes brighter, and thinking becomes much clearer.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be used to address the underlying issues causing your drug abuse and teach you how to cope with triggers and stress that can lead back to addiction.

Group therapy is also a valuable tool that allows you to see that you are not alone in your struggle to overcome drug use. By building a relationship with others and working together for support and encouragement, it will be easier and more effective to beat addiction and lead a healthier lifestyle.

Consider Treatment

Barbiturate addiction can make you feel like you are trapped in a cycle of drug use, but properly detoxing can help combat this cycle. Residential rehab facilities have specialists who can help manage your treatment and make the detox process more comfortable and effective. There’s residential treatment, which is where you pack up and live at the facility for the duration of your treatment. There’s also outpatient treatment, where live at home and commute for therapy sessions. The truth is that professional treatment makes breaking free from drug abuse much easier.

If you’re addicted to barbiturates, you can get both medical and psychiatric care from professionals who know exactly how to help you deal with your issues effectively. Not only will the physical symptoms of your addiction be addressed, but the underlying cause will be discussed so that you can make a full recovery. With the help of trained nurses, clinicians, and counselors, you can make sure you are taken care of by people who genuinely care about your health and well-being.

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