You know those nights when you just can’t seem to fall asleep? You keep tossing back and forth; one minute your leg is cramping and the next your throat feels parched.
You might find yourself wishing for some sort of magic pill that would just knock you out — that’s one of the reasons why barbiturates were created. That dependence on the substance to help you sleep is also one of the reasons why there’s such a high potential for abuse as well.
No prescription medication is perfect, and barbiturates are no different. Though they were used much more frequently a few decades ago, there are still some conditions that rely heavily upon this prescription for management and balance.
In this article, we’re going to define barbiturates for you and share all the basics you need to know about this type of prescription drug.
What are barbiturates?
Barbiturates are a classification of sedative-hypnotic drugs that are derived from barbituric acid. They’re considered sedative-hypnotic due to them being characterized by the drowsy, sleepy, relaxing effects they have on the user.
Up until the last couple of decades, barbiturates were used to help treat a wide variety of conditions, including insomnia, epilepsy, seizures, and pre-anesthesia sedation. Nowadays, other medications have been found to be more effective at treating these conditions and barbiturates aren’t used nearly as much for them, but they’re still turned to for other reasons.
Currently, treating insomnia and preventing (or managing) seizures are the two most common reasons why barbiturates are prescribed. This medication is generally taken by either swallowing a small pill or receiving a liquid injection.
There are many types of barbiturates out there, but not all of them are created equally.
Some of the most common barbiturates are:
Depending on the nature of your exact situation, there will be a barbiturate that’s better suited to your needs than others. Speaking with a professional will help you figure out which one that is.
Effects of barbiturates
Due to the relaxing effects of barbiturates, they have a high rate of abuse and addiction. It’s much easier to turn to a seemingly magic pill that makes you feel like you’re floating above all your problems, rather than stay in the trenches and actually conquer each one.
The technical effects of barbiturates on the body are a slowing down of the central nervous system that causes a general, overall mellow or sleepy feeling. It can also include temporary relief of anxiety and depression, lack of coordination, suicidal ideals and paranoia.
Despite the negative side effects, barbiturates can produce mild euphoria in the individual, resulting in a consistent potential for abuse and addiction when used frequently.
Abuse of barbiturates
Regular, frequent or high-dose amounts of barbiturates can result in the development of a substance use disorder or addiction. Prolonged use leads to increased tolerance, and bigger doses mean more severe withdrawal symptoms when that dosage isn’t regularly consumed.
Symptoms can be fairly mild, starting from irritability, anxiety, nausea and insomnia, and range all the way to the severe side of the spectrum where symptoms include hallucinations, seizures, heart palpitations and worse.
If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 911.
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