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Substance Abuse

When Barbiturate Abuse Becomes a Serious Addiction

Barbiturates are a class of drugs that act as central nervous system depressants. Today, Barbiturates are seldom prescribed as they have been mostly replaced over the years by Benzodiazepines in medical practice. Barbiturates are classified as sedative-hypnotics and they were most often used as sleeping pills, tranquilizers and sedatives when they were more prevalent in medical practice. Barbiturates are known to slow down bodily functions and help an individual deal with anxiety or insomnia.

Barbiturates have a high potential for abuse because of how they sedate and cause euphoria in the individual using it. Abusing barbiturates can be a way in which a person can simply check out mentally, physically, and emotionally. Unfortunately, if Barbiturates are continually abused or even used for a long period of time in therapeutic treatment, it will result in dependence and tolerance, possibly causing an individual to have to seek out higher doses from their physician or from other illegal sources. Barbiturates are also known for the difficult withdrawal that accompanies anyone who stops taking the drug and symptoms can start as little as 8-16 hours after the last dose.

The length of the withdrawal can last up to 15 days and are more severe in the beginning. If you, or someone you love is struggling with barbiturate abuse, please know that individualized substance abuse treatment can help break the chains of the addiction. A Better Today Recovery Services understands the difficulties that come along with addiction and our clinical staff is here to help first get you through a safe and comfortable medical detox. If you or someone is abusing barbiturates, give us a call today.

Barbiturate FAQ’s

What are Barbiturates?

Barbiturates are depressants that affect the central nervous system (CNS). They are used as sedatives (mild to coma-inducing), anesthetics, hypnotics, and anticonvulsants. Barbiturates can be classified as ultrashort, short, intermediate, and long-acting.

What are Barbiturates origins?

Barbiturates were developed for medical uses in the 1900s, but today doctors rely more upon Benzodiazepines.

What are Barbiturates’ common street names?

Christmas Trees, Pinks, Barbs, Yellow Jackets, Block Busters, Red Devils, Goof Balls, Red & Blues

How are Barbiturates abused?

Barbiturates can be swallowed as a pill, or injected in a liquid form. In general, people use Barbiturates decrease inhibitions, reduce anxiety, and treat the unwanted effects of stimulant drugs.

What are Barbiturates effects on the mind?

Barbiturates can cause relief of anxiety, lack of inhibition, sleepiness, mild euphoria, irritability, paranoia, suicidal ideation, and the impairment of memory, coordination, and judgment. The danger of overdose is high, since tolerance develops quickly and larger, more frequent doses are needed to generate the same high.

What are Barbiturates effects on the body?

Barbiturates cause sleepiness and depression of the CNS.

What are Barbiturates overdose effects?

An overdose of Barbiturates can cause dilated pupils, weak/rapid pulse, clammy skin, shallow respiration, respiratory failure, coma, and possibly death.

Which drugs cause similar effects as Barbiturates?

Barbiturates share similar characteristics as Xanax (R), Rohypnol (R), Valium (R), GHB, sleeping pills, tranquilizers, and alcohol.

What are the withdrawal effects of Barbiturates?

When the user stops abusing Barbiturates, he/she could experience withdrawal symptoms such as seizures, restlessness, tremors, insomnia, hallucinations, weakness, psychosis, nausea, anxiety, dizziness, and sweating.

Need more help with a Barbiturate Addiction?
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Sign, Symptoms & Common Behaviors of Barbiturate Abuse

The Physical signs and symptoms of barbiturate abuse are: calmness, relaxed muscles, slurred speech, lack of coordination and poor judgement. Extreme high doses can lead to unconsciousness and fatal overdose.

For shorter acting barbiturates, these symptoms can last anywhere from 4-6 hours, while longer acting barbiturates can affect an individual for 8-12 hours. An individual may have symptoms that are like alcohol intoxication and they may seem lethargic and expressionless.

Many individuals abuse barbiturates with alcohol and if they do so the signs and symptoms will increase in intensity. The combination of alcohol and barbiturates can potentially be deadly. A person abusing barbiturates for a long period of time may show withdrawal symptoms if they are ever unable to procure the drug.

Commonly Abused Barbiturate Drugs

Amobarbital (Amytal)

Amobarbital goes by the brand name Amytal. It is a sedative-hypnotic drug first created in Germany in 1923. Amobarbital is approved for the treatment of insomnia, epilepsy, and anxiety. Street names for this drug are “blues”, “blue angels”, “blue birds”, and “blue heavens”. Amytal is not commonly prescribed. Amobarbital withdrawal symptoms closely resemble delirium tremens and can potentially deadly if withdrawal is attempted without medical supervision.

Butabarbital (Butisol)

Butabarbital goes by the brand name Butisol and has approved medical use for the treatment of insomnia as well helping patients feel sleepy and before a surgery or medical procedure. Butabarbital is known to cause paranoid or suicidal ideation. Butabarbital can also cause lapses in memory, poor judgement, and poor coordination. Butabarbital is a Schedule III drug in the United States and is not commonly prescribed by doctors today.

Pentobarbital (Nembutal)

Pentobarbital which goes by the brand name Nembutal has approved medical use and is prescribed usually short-term for treating tension, anxiety, nervousness, and insomnia. It can also be used to help a patient relax before a surgery or medical procedure. Alcohol use should be avoided at all costs if take Pentobarbital. Pentobarbital has been used for euthanasia in both humans and animals as it can induce death in high doses.

Secobarbital (Seconal)

Secobarbital which goes by the brand name Seconal is one of the most powerful Barbiturates known today. In the United States, Seconal is often used with physician-assisted suicide as it can induce death in large doses. Secobarbital is medically approved to treat epilepsy, insomnia, and are used as a preoperative drug as anesthesia before short procedures. Seconal is also used in veterinary practice and has a high potential for abuse.


Phenobarbital which is also known as phenobarbitone or phenobarb is a medication that is used in the treat for certain types of epilepsy. In the United States, it is often a medication used to treat seizures in small children. Phenobarbital is sometimes used to treat insomnia, anxiety, and drug withdrawal. The effects of phenobarbital can last up between 4 – 48 hours. Those who use phenobarbital have a high risk of developing suicidal ideations and many experience a significant lowering of consciousness.

Medical Detox

Our medical providers focus on taking the discomfort out of the detox and withdrawal process. We understand that each patient has different needs. Medication Assisted Treatment is offered as an option for treatment, without stigma. You deserve an effective and realistic addiction treatment plan.

Intensive Outpatient

We offer Intensive Outpatient & Evening Intensive Outpatient at both our Scottsdale & Phoenix facilities. Providing a safe and therapeutic substance abuse groups and sessions for you to get better and focus exclusively on your treatment is our top priority. Learn More

Residential Treatment

Our residential facilities located in Scottsdale are the perfect place to start your journey to recovery. With expert clinicians and medical providers on staff taking into account your needs and creating a treatment plan that works. Learn More

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Patients may qualify for Independent Living, a more structured Sober-living program where patients can stay for up to a year in our Recovery Community after graduating treatment. It’s a chance for you to build a solid unshakeable foundation in your recovery. Learn More

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Reliable Sources Matter When it Comes to Your Barbiturate Addiction

Realizing that you have a substance abuse problem is nerve wrecking. Many people do not feel comfortable discussing their barbiturate addiction with their doctor in fear of feeling shame or being thrown in jail. Because of that stigma associated with addiction, finding unbiased information that you can trust in is important to ABTRS.

Making that decision to change your life should come from a place of knowledge. When it comes to substance abuse treatment, our patients and their families need reliable resources that are unbiased and proven or tested to be effective. Checkout the list below to learn more about where ABTRS got their information for this webpage.

Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. (2016). Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States: Results from the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (HHS Publication No. SMA 16-4984, NSDUH Series H-51). Retrieved from http://www.samhsa.gov/data/ 

HARGROVE, E. A., & FORD, F. R. (1952). Acute and chronic barbiturate intoxication recent advances in therapeutic management. California medicine, 77(6), 383-6.

Suddock JT, Cain MD. Barbiturate Toxicity. [Updated 2018 Nov 15]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2019 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK499875/

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