Barbiturates Addiction Hotline

If you or a loved one is struggling with a barbiturate addiction, you’re not alone. Because of the drug’s side effects, the abuse potential and the availability of safer alternatives, physicians don’t prescribe barbiturates nearly as much as they did in the past. In 2015, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that only 0.2% of people over the age of 12 took barbiturates. Its usage continues to decline; however, its addiction potential stays the same.

Overcoming barbiturate addiction may not be easy, but it’s not as challenging when you have the guidance and support of compassionate professionals who understand what you’re going through. Contact the National Rehab Hotline to get help for barbiturate addiction.

What Are Barbiturates?

Classified as sedative-hypnotics, barbiturates are central nervous system depressants that cause sedation and relaxation by affecting GABA levels in the brain. In the past, doctors frequently prescribed them to treat insomnia, anxiety and seizures. However, since the 1960s and 1970s, they’ve largely been replaced by benzodiazepines, which are considered safer despite their own abuse potential.

Today, doctors use barbiturates for anesthesia and to treat certain types of seizures that are less responsive to other drugs. They’re also prescribed for relieving symptoms of tension headaches.

Some pharmaceutical companies ceased production of their barbiturates due to moral concerns, and some barbiturates no longer have the approval of the Food and Drug Administration. Barbiturates still in use today are grouped into four categories based on their duration of effect:

1. Ultra-Short-Acting

Depending on the method of administration, the effects of ultra-short-acting barbiturates typically last between 15 minutes and 1 hour. Methohexital is the most common type of this barbiturate.

2. Short-Acting

Short-acting barbiturates last between 3 and 4 hours. Similar to ultra-short-acting drugs, their onset of effects is quick. Pentobarbital and secobarbital are the most commonly prescribed short-acting barbiturates.

3. Intermediate-Acting

Intermediate-acting barbiturates take longer to induce effects but have a longer duration. Amobarbital and butabarbital are the most common types of these drugs, typically prescribed for sedation and treating seizures.

4. Long-Acting

The effects of long-acting barbiturates typically last around 12 hours, but some have effects lasting several days. Pentobarbital is among the most well-known long-acting barbiturates.

Dangers of Use

When used exactly as prescribed by a physician, barbiturates can be a relatively safe treatment for several medical conditions. However, this drug still carries serious risks due to its mind-altering effects; even the most well-intentioned patients are susceptible to becoming dependent.

Interactions With Other Drugs

Barbiturates can affect the metabolism of other drugs. When someone uses barbiturates in conjunction with other medications and then abruptly stops taking the barbiturate, the other drug may suddenly be available in the body in much larger quantities, resulting in potential overdose.


With regular, ongoing use, many people build a tolerance to their prescribed barbiturate dose. This can lead them to increase their dose to achieve the same effect, raising the risk of adverse side effects and overdose.

Birth Defects

Mothers who use barbiturates during pregnancy run the risk of passing dependency on the drug to their newborns. In some cases, babies of mothers who used the drug during pregnancy are born with tissue-related birth defects.

Cognitive Impairment

Over time, habitual barbiturate use can cause confusion and difficulty concentrating. In severe cases of addiction, users may experience hallucinations.

Respiratory Depression

Most common in the case of an overdose, difficulty breathing has been noted in users who have developed a dependency on barbiturates. However, respiratory depression has also been seen in individuals who take the drug alongside other substances and medications, such as alcohol and opiates.

Withdrawal Symptoms

If you’ve been struggling with a barbiturate addiction and believe you’re ready to stop, be aware of the potential withdrawals you may experience. Depending on the severity of your addiction, going cold turkey may not be the wisest decision.

Many former barbiturate addicts began experiencing withdrawals by their second day of cessation. Common withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Seizures
  • Tremors
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Psychosis

Challenges of Withdrawal

For some individuals, dealing with withdrawal is one of the more difficult phases of battling barbiturate addiction. Withdrawal symptoms are usually most severe in the days immediately after the individual stops taking barbiturates. If you’ve been taking the drugs long-term, especially at high doses, some symptoms may persist for a longer period and with greater severity. For long-term users, tapering off barbiturates is generally safer than stopping immediately.

Psychological Stress

In the early stages of barbiturate withdrawal, feeling anxious and restless is normal. You may also feel irritable and notice poor short-term memory.

Sleep Disturbance

While insomnia treatment traditionally involved the use of barbiturates, insomnia is also a withdrawal symptom. You’ll likely feel more tired than usual due to the lack of quality sleep, but this is only temporary.


If you’ve been addicted to barbiturates for a long time, your risk of seizures is elevated. Similar to insomnia, this is another symptom of withdrawal that’s also a condition doctors treat with barbiturates.

Physical Stress

Several physical withdrawal symptoms occur when you stop using barbiturates. The most common symptoms include sweating, nausea, muscle aches and sometimes diarrhea.

Not everyone experiences the same symptoms, and the severity of withdrawals varies depending on each individual’s physiology and the nature of their addiction.

Treatment Options for Barbiturate Abuse

While battling barbiturate addiction is tough, the idea of entering barbiturate rehab can be intimidating as well. Between detoxification, therapy and rehabilitation programs, you can find help for barbiturate addiction that suits your needs and puts you on the path to sobriety.

Inpatient Rehabilitation

Inpatient rehabilitation, also called residential treatment, provides a supportive environment where patients can focus on their recovery. Patients routinely undergo detoxification and various types of therapy. Depending on the severity of their addiction, patients often stay at a residential treatment facility for periods ranging from several weeks to several months.

Outpatient Rehabilitation

Outpatient rehabilitation usually includes the same techniques and treatments as inpatient rehabilitation. However, instead of living at a residential treatment facility, patients live at their homes and travel to a clinic for treatments and therapy sessions.

Medication-Assisted Therapy

Medication-assisted therapy is often used during the detoxification period of barbiturate rehab. Medications such as benzodiazepines and buprenorphine are utilized to reduce cravings and the severity of withdrawals. Individual and group therapy further helps smooth the transition to sobriety.

Ongoing Support

After completing barbiturate rehab, many people benefit from continuing their group and individual therapy sessions. This provides additional structure and guidance as former addicts come to terms with their past actions or behaviors that initially made them susceptible to barbiturate addiction. The social aspect of support groups also helps those who may have become isolated from their prior social circle.

How to Get Help for Barbiturate Addiction

Overcoming barbiturate addiction isn’t a journey you have to walk alone. Contact the National Rehab Hotline and we’ll provide you with resources and guidance to put you on the path to recovery.