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Brevital Withdrawal

Brevital is the brand name for a drug called methohexital. It’s in a category of drugs called barbiturates, which are potent nervous system depressants that can cause sedation, hypnosis, and anxiolysis (anti-anxiety). Barbiturates were once used as a common treatment option for people with anxiety and sleep disorders like insomnia. However, they came with several side effects that made them less popular once the safer benzodiazepines were introduced. Barbiturates can cause chemical dependence and addiction if they’re taken for too long or in high doses. They can also lead to dangerous withdrawal symptoms or deadly overdose.

Brevital, like other depressants, works on a chemical messenger in the brain called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which is responsible for regulating nervous system excitability. GABA helps you calm down, relax, and sleep when it’s appropriate. Barbiturates like Brevital can cause sedation by increasing the effectiveness of GABA when it binds to its receptor. Today, Brevital is used as an anesthetic in hospital settings. If the drug is abused, it can cause a deadly overdose by slowing down your nervous system to the point that you stop breathing. It can also lead to chemical dependence and life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. 

What are Brevital Withdrawal Symptoms?

When your body adapts to Brevital, it may start producing more of its own excitatory effects in an attempt to counteract the drug. As your brain chemistry changes, it will come to rely on the drug in your system. When you stop or cut back, your body will be thrown out of balance. Symptoms may come as a result of an overactive nervous system. Anxiety and insomnia are common symptoms, along with a general feeling of restlessness. 

Quitting abruptly after a period of chemical dependence can cause more severe symptoms. In some cases, people experience seizures that can come on suddenly. It’s also possible to experience delirium tremens, a condition that’s marked by extreme confusion, panic, and increased blood pressure and heart rate. Delirium tremens can be deadly without medical attention. Other symptoms of Brevital withdrawal can include:

  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Panic
  • Headache
  • Tremors
  • Shaky hands
  • Sudden extreme confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • Delirium tremens
  • Heart palpitations
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate

What Are the Stages of Brevital Withdrawal Timeline?

24 hours. Brevital is reduced to half of its original concentration in your blood faster than other depressants. After just a few minutes, it will be significantly reduced, and its effects may start to wear off in as little as five minutes. If you are dependent on depressants and you only take Brevital, your first withdrawal symptoms may appear within hours and will likely start within the first day after quitting. 

Three days. Symptoms will start to get worse once they begin. They may reach their most intense peak symptoms within three days after your last dose. However, the peak may happen earlier if you were used to a high dose or if you took the drug for a long time. Peak symptoms can include severe complications like seizures or heart-related problems that need medical treatment. 

One week. Peak symptoms usually mark the beginning of the end of your acute withdrawal phase. Symptoms will start to get better, and the most intense physical symptoms will likely go away first. 

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One month. After a month, some symptoms like anxiety, depression, and drug cravings may linger. You might need to address these issues in addiction treatment in order to avoid a relapse. 

Do I Need Detox?

Brevital is a potent central nervous system depressant. Medical detox is a high level of care in addition treatment, and it involves 24-7 medically managed treatment. Not everyone who seeks addiction treatment will need to go through this level of care. However, because Brevital can cause potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms, it’s a good idea to speak to a medical professional about medical detox. Detox is designed to help people that are likely to go through severe withdrawal symptoms and people with other medical complications. It may involve the use of medications to treat symptoms or to taper you off the drug. If you enter an addiction treatment program, you’ll go through a medical assessment to determine if medical detox is a necessary step on your road to recovery. 

Sources

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2016, February). 8: Medical detoxification. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/teaching-packets/understanding-drug-abuse-addiction/section-iii/7-medical-detoxification

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018, March 6). Prescription CNS Depressants. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/prescription-cns-depressants

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019, November). 8: Definition of dependence. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/teaching-packets/neurobiology-drug-addiction/section-iii-action-heroin-morphine/8-definition-dependence.

RxList. (2018, September 24). Barbiturates: Side Effects, Dosages, Treatment, Interactions, Warnings. Retrieved from https://www.rxlist.com/consumer_barbiturates/drugs-condition.htm

RxList. (2019, September 17). Gamma-aminobutyric Acid: Health Benefits, Uses, Side Effects, Dosage & Interactions. Retrieved from https://www.rxlist.com/gamma-aminobutyric_acid/supplements.htm

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