Generalized tonic-clonic seizure

Dealing with abuse: Barbiturates

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Barbiturates are drugs categorized as sedative-hypnotics which generally have sleep-inducing and anxiety-reducing effects.

There are various types of barbiturates and the main difference among them is how long the effects last. It is important to note that the effects of some of the long-acting variants can last for up to 2 days. Others are short-acting which only lasts for a few minutes. Barbiturates can be administered into the muscles or veins, but usually taken in the form of pills.

What are the effects of barbiturates?

Generally, barbiturates are believed to act as brain relaxers. It is important to note that alcohol is also a brain relaxant. The effects of barbiturates and alcohol are strikingly similar.

Individuals who abuse barbiturates use them to get “high” which is defined as a feeling which is the same as alcohol intoxication or to offset the effects of stimulant drugs.

In minor doses, an individual who abuses barbiturates feels uninhibited, drowsy and intoxicated.
  • In minor doses, an individual who abuses barbiturates feels uninhibited, drowsy and intoxicated.
  • In high doses, the individual staggers as if drunk, confused and develops slurred speech.
  • At even higher doses, complications might include coma and even cessation of breathing. In addition, death is also likely.

It is important to note that one of the hazards of misusing barbiturates is that the distinction between the dosage responsible for causing sleepiness and the dosage that can cause death is small. Medically, this distinction is called as the thin therapeutic-to-toxic range. Due to this, barbiturates are considered dangerous if used incorrectly.

Barbiturates are also addictive. If used longer than a month, the brain develops dependence on the drug which leads to severe symptoms if the drug is not taken such as tremors, agitation and difficulty sleeping.

When to seek medical care

The individual should be taken to the nearest healthcare facility if suspected of using the drug inappropriately. Right after using barbiturates, the individual might only be drowsy or appear intoxicated, but serious symptoms can develop rapidly and unpredictably.

If the individual appears drowsy or could not be aroused, call for emergency assistance right away. Bring any leftover pills, bottles or other medications that the individual has taken as well.

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