Barbiturate Detox

Barbiturate Addiction Detox

With an extensive history in modern medicine, barbiturates have long been a resource for doctors around the world. Offering support for a wide range of conditions, including insomnia, epilepsy, and anxiety disorders, this flexible class of medications was once a predominant choice.

However, due to their addictive nature, many doctors today hesitate to prescribe barbiturates to their patients unless there is a true need. Benzodiazepines, while also addictive, are less toxic overall; with the introduction of benzos to address mood disorders, barbiturates are held in reserve for situations that require a little extra.

If you were prescribed barbiturates and are now addicted to the euphoria and relaxation that can come with increased doses, the help you need is here. As a comprehensive Barbiturate detox program designed to help you break free from the chains of dependency, you can find the help you need to reclaim your life.

Call 855-598-3048 to speak to a trained intake coordinator today about our medically monitored Barbiturate addiction detox program. Someone is available to take your call 24/7, so it’s always the right time to reach out for help.

Defining Barbiturates

Barbiturates are central nervous system depressants, reducing brain activity in order to stimulate a calm, controlled demeanor. Numerous other drugs, including benzodiazepines, like Valium and Xanax, and non-benzo sleep medications, like Ambien and Lunesta, share similar mechanisms, putting these medications in a similar class.

Barbiturates work by affecting the GABA, or Gamma Amino Butyric Acid, system in the brain, the chief inhibitory neurotransmitter. This mechanism controls impulses, calming neurological activity to the point that it’s easier to sleep, control mood swings, or manage seizures.

However, there’s not just one barbiturate; this term refers to an entire class of drug that comes in numerous different forms [1]. All variations are slightly different, but the most popular include:


Introduced in 1923 in Germany under the trade name Amytal, amobarbital is among the earliest barbiturate derivatives. Amobarbital is colorless, odorless, and water-soluble, with a bitter taste. While originally created to treat anxiety and epilepsy, some scientists have discovered an off-label use: truth serum. When administered intravenously, amobarbital can inspire patients to divulge information they may not ordinarily, likely due to lower inhibitions.

Despite these uses, amobarbital is not prescribed frequently. Withdrawal symptoms often feature delirium tremens, or the rapid onset of extreme confusion, which can sometimes be life-threatening. Amobarbital is classified as either a Schedule II or Schedule III drug, depending on composition.


Butalbital is a moderate-acting Schedule III barbiturate and is often sold under the trade names Fiorinal and Fioricet. Due to the mechanisms of this medication, butalbital is often mixed with over-the-counter pain relievers, like acetaminophen and aspirin, or caffeine in order to negate the drowsiness and inattentiveness butalbital can cause.

Butalbital is most frequently prescribed for headaches and migraines, but is no longer used unless absolutely necessary. For most doctors, it is a least preferable option that should only be prescribed when other medications fail. Butalbital should never be mixed with other sedatives or depressants, like alcohol or benzos.


A short-acting barbiturate sold under the trade name Brevital, methohexital is most often used as an anesthetic. It is generally offered as a sodium salt and is only used in hospital settings or under strict supervision. When given to patients, it can induce a deep sleep, making it a popular choice for general anesthesia for surgical and dental procedures. Additionally, methohexital can reduce the seizure threshold; for this reason, some doctors choose it as an anesthesia for those undergoing electro-convulsive therapy. Recovery is often rapid, with patients regaining full consciousness within 30 minutes.

A Schedule IV controlled substance, methohexital is considered a lower risk for addiction.


A highly addictive Schedule II controlled substance in the United States, pentobarbital is short-acting barbiturate sold under the trademark Nembutal. Pentobarbital is among the most dangerous of mass market barbiturates, leading to respiratory arrest in high doses. This potential is severe enough that pentobarbital has been used by prison systems as a part of the cocktail used during lethal injections.

Despite the dangers involved with use, pentobarbital does have several medical applications, including as a sedative, pre-anesthetic, and to control convulsions in emergency situations. Pentobarbital can also reduce pressure within the cranium for those with Reye’s syndrome or other brain injury.


One of the most useful barbiturate derivatives in modern healthcare, phenobarbital is a Schedule II controlled substance sold as Lunial. While no longer as popular in the United States, phenobarbital is recommended by the World Health Organization as an epilepsy treatment in rural areas and developing countries. It can be taken orally, intravenously, or injected directly into the muscle.

In addition to use in epilepsy patients, phenobarbital is also occasionally prescribed to address insomnia, anxiety, and drug withdrawal. Too much phenobarbital can lead to respiratory distress and may increase suicide risk.


Also known under the trade name Seconal, secobarbital is an extremely addictive Schedule II substance. It serves a variety of functions, including acting as a sedative, anesthetic, and anti-convulsant with hypnotic properties. It is indicated for short-term treatments of insomnia as well as to address epilepsy.

Secobarbital has a long history of recreational abuse, leading to the death of leading lady Judy Garland in 1969 [2], among many others. This rise in abuse and accidental overdose lead to the decrease in secobarbital use, although it is still found on the street today. Too much secobarbital can cause respiratory arrest, leading to death. For this reason, secobarbital is often used for physician-assisted suicide in the U.S. and several European countries.

If you are addicted to these or any other barbiturate derivatives, we are here to help you get clean. Contact us today to learn more about our Barbiturate detox program and how we can do to assist you in leading the sober lifestyle you deserve.

The Dangers in Addiction

Despite the long-lasting presence in modern medicine, barbiturates have been largely phased out for a reason: they are wildly addictive. While different medications are categorized differently, a distinct majority of barbiturates carry the risk of long-term addiction, overdose, or even death. In order to prevent against these critical side effects, doctors generally only prescribe barbiturates when other drugs fail to provide relief to patients.

As outlined above, barbiturates fall into Schedule II, III, and IV drug classes, due to their addictive natures. Even a therapeutic dose can lead to drug tolerance and dependency, creating a chemical addiction in users of all kinds.

One of the largest disadvantages of barbiturates relates to dosage. Many medications have clear-cut dosing instructions based on weight, height, gender, or age, but barbiturates are very challenging to prescribe correctly as the guidelines are vague and variable. Too little fails to help patients control illnesses and symptoms, while too much can cause potentially fatal side effects. Even a dosage off by a few milligrams can lead to coma or death. When combined with the highly addictive quality of most barbiturates, doctors do not recommend barbiturates for regular, long-term use except when absolutely necessary. In fact, many fatal overdoses from prescription drugs involve barbiturates [3].

In some extreme cases, Stevens–Johnson syndrome, or SJS, can affect barbiturate users. This condition, a disorder of the skin and mucous membranes, begins with flu-like symptoms that evolve into a painful rash consisting of blisters and peeling. SJS requires immediate hospitalization and can take weeks to resolve.

Symptoms of Barbiturate Addiction

Despite the reduction in prescriptions of barbiturates, addiction is still prevalent. Some users started with legal prescriptions and fell into a cycle of dependency, while others, most often teens, purchase barbiturates off the street for recreational use.

If you or someone you love is struggling with barbiturate addiction, signs may include:

  • Sedation or relaxation
  • Apathy or disinterest in activities
  • Fatigue
  • Memory lapses and confusion
  • Lack of coordination and muscle control
  • Lowered inhibitions and reckless behavior
  • Slurred speech

In addition to these physical signs, many substance abusers will display drug-seeking behaviors, which may include shopping around for different doctors, frequent emergency room visits, lying, and theft. Barbiturates can cause impulsivity and recklessness, leading to atypical behaviors that can cause relationship problems and stress, as well as legal troubles among ordinarily law-abiding individuals.

While barbiturates are most commonly obtained with a doctor’s prescription, a small black market for barbiturates does exist. Some more potent derivatives are sold on the street, and a wide range can be procured from online pharmacies outside the United States. Common street names include goofballs, reds, yellow jackets, red jackets, and downers.

Barbiturates are often taken by drug abusers in conjunction with other substances in order to intensify side effects. However, this can increase the likelihood of overdose, coma, or death. Barbiturates should never be mixed with any other medication unless instructed by a doctor.

Withdrawal Symptoms

As with any medication that can cause a physical addiction, withdrawal is often a very challenging and unpleasant process. Withdrawal symptoms start to set in within eight to 16 hours, and can remain present for up to 15 days.

Symptoms vary based from one barbiturate to another, but some common side effects include:

  • Insomnia
  • Agitation and irritability
  • Depressive thoughts and thoughts of suicide
  • Seizures
  • Delirium
  • Confusion and hallucinations
  • Fever and sweating

Due to the long withdrawal process, many users relapse within the first week. These symptoms are far more complex than the consequences associated with other addictive prescription medications, making it much hard to quit and stay clean.

Barbiturate Addiction Detox

Many addicts believe that quitting drugs is something that can be done by anyone at any time, and that they can stop when they are ready.

Unfortunately, this is not true at all. Quitting barbiturates is an agonizing process that can be life-threatening for long-time users who are physically and psychologically dependent. Seizures, respiratory arrest, and comas can all occur throughout the withdrawal process as the body is deprived of a substance it has now come to associate with survival.

In order to mitigate side effects and stay safe while recovering from drug addiction, medical monitoring is an absolutely necessity during Barbiturate detox. For this reason, inpatient rehab is often recommended to ensure that all doctors’ orders are followed and professionals are available should complications arise. Going cold turkey, or ceasing all barbiturate use at once, is strongly discouraged.

While in Barbiturate detox, patients will be weaned gently off of barbiturates, using a tapering program designed to accommodate unique needs. All patients react differently to medications, so our staff will work with you to create a Barbiturate detox program that addresses the nature and severity of use, drug of choice, longevity of addiction, and more.

Barbiturate Detox, Rehabilitation and Recovery

For most patients, the weaning process will take several weeks to a month. This process is designed to minimize side effects and fully treat a physical addiction. Psychological addiction can be harder to break, but inpatient recovery seeks to address these needs as well. Drug addiction is a lifelong battle, but we are prepared to arm you with the tools you need.

In addition to medical assistance throughout Barbiturate detox, we also provide care for your mental and emotional health as well. Our counselors will assist you with group and one-on-one therapy, teaching you coping techniques and confidence-building practices that can help you return to a life without drugs. In an inpatient facility, you also have access to a large network of current patients in recovery as well as a thorough alumni program, offering a support system of others who understand your journey.

Clean and Sober Living

With a litany of frightening addiction symptoms and the risk of fatal overdose, barbiturates are a particularly troublesome class of drug. Despite the relaxing and euphoric side effects that can come with regular use, the benefits do not outweigh the risks.

If you are addicted to barbiturates and would like to break your habit once and for all, we are here to stand by your side. As a Joint Commission Accredited state-of-the-art detox center, we are dedicated to making a difference for substance abusers in need. Boasting a comfortable facility and highly trained medical staff, we know what it takes to guide patients into recovery.

Contact us today at 513-909-2225 to learn more about our medically monitored Barbiturate addiction detox program at our rehabs in Ohio. All consultations are confidential.