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Substance Abuse - Barbituates

Commonly Known As: barbies, dolls, reds, yellows, yellow jackets, downers, barbs, rainbows, Phenos, Tuinol, Seconal, and Nembutal.

Access to Drug: It is a controlled substance that is available through prescription. Some Doctors will freely write the prescriptions and dealers will sell the Barbituates individually. Can be bought on the street, parties, clubs, raves, through friends. It is illegal to sell barbiturates without a prescription. Users can be arrested for being under the influence, driving under the influence, possession and trafficking.

Scientific Name: Secobarbitol. It is a Central Nervous system depressant and under the classification of Sedative/Hypnotics.

Interesting Facts: It was first synthesized in 1863 but didn’t begin being used on the medical scene until 1903 as an alternative to opiates. Phenobarbitol was introduced in 1913 followed by at least 2,000 other forms of barbiturates. Peak use of Barbituates was in the 40’s through the early 70’s and declined with the introduction of Benzodiazepines (Vicadon) but remains on the legal and illicit market today. Legally used for the treatment of epileptic seizures, sleeplessness, anxiety and tension.

Methods of Use: Orally in pill form. Will be injected if the pill is crushed or a cap is opened and the powder mixed with water.

Common Effects When Intoxicated: Poor control over speech and body, extreme and unpredictable emotional reactions and mental confusion. There is a sense of sedated euphoria and in some cases unconscoiusness. The effects of Barbituates are similar to alcohol.

Duration of Intoxication: The duration of intoxication depends on the barbituate that is used. Some are short acting and last about 2 to 4 hours while others can create intoxication for up to 12 hours. The very short acting Barbituates, such as Pentothal can cause immediate unconsciousness or even death if too much is ingested.

Withdrawal: Tolerance does develop rapidly and it becomes necessary to take higher doses to achieve the same effects. Depending on the duration of abuse, the user will feel “spacey” and tired. Slurred speech may continue through the next day for several hours and body movements will be slowed. Heavy users require treatment in a medical facility to tritate the dosage and allow the body to return to a regular state. There will be disrupted brain functioning for an extended period of time.

Effects of Long Term Use: This would be similar to chronic inebriation with impairment of memory, and judgment. There may be hostility, aggression, and depression with mood swings, chronic fatigue and paranoia. In some cases there is suicidal thoughts or tendencies. Heavy users are also more susceptible to bronchitis and pneumonia due to the cough reflex being depressed and hypothermia from the drug blocking normal response to cold.

Abuse, Dependence, and Addiction: People seeking the sedated euphoric effect will abuse the Barbituates and can develop a psychological and physical dependence to the drug as the body and brain adapt to the chemicals. People also trying to ease the effects of speed or cocaine will also abuse Barbituates. The addiction follows quickly due to the fear of the withdrawal.

Associated Risks: Combining barbiturates with alcohol, heroin, codeine, methadone or antihistamines can be lethal. Because of the sedative effects, people have been in car accidents, or hurt themselves due to the lack of feeling created by the drugs. They are not sensitive to hot or cold. Poor judgment and motor control also can create situations that can cause bodily harm to the user or others.