Frequently Asked Questions
What Are Barbiturates?

Barbiturates are medications that produce a wide spectrum of central nervous system depression. They are most commonly prescribed to treat anxiety and insomnia but are easily misused by taking more than indicated by a doctor.

Which Are Most Commonly Abused?

Amytal Sodium, Busitol Sodium, Luminal, Nembutal Sodium, Phenobarbital, Seconal Sodium

What Are Common Street Names?

Barbs, Block Busters, Christmas Trees, Goof Balls, Pinks, Red Devils, Yellow Jackets

What Do They Look Like?

Barbiturates are available in a variety of multicolored pills and tablets and in liquid form.

How Are They Used?

Barbiturates are used by swallowing or injecting them.

What Are the Short-Term Effects of Barbiturates?

Barbiturates reduce anxiety and inhibitions and counteract some of the undesirable side effects of illicit drugs. Some individuals are drawn to them because they induce mild euphoria and sleepiness. They may have a relaxing effect in the short term but are dangerous in higher doses.

Why Are Barbiturates Harmful?

Barbiturates harm the mind and body when used in larger quantities. Misuse can lead to short-temperedness, memory loss, lack of coordination, impaired decision-making abilities, and even suicidal thoughts. When mixed with other depressants such as alcohol, barbiturate use can be deadly. They pose a greater threat to the body and the mind when used over longer stretches of time.

Long-Term Effects of Barbiturate Abuse

Repeated barbiturate misuse can lead to addiction and various health problems, including:

  • Delirium
  • Anxiety
  • Slowed reflexes
  • Central nervous system damage
  • Liver damage
  • Chronic sleep problems
Recognizing Barbiturate Addiction

Continued abuse of barbiturates can make users neurologically dependent on the drug. Barbiturate addiction can lead to drastic changes, such as:

Behavioral Symptoms

  • Sluggishness
  • Slurred speech
  • Poor concentration
  • Decreased motor control

Physical Signs

  • Dizziness
  • Slow breathing
  • Inability to urinate
  • Respiratory depression
What Does a Barbiturate Overdose Look Like?

Taking an excessive number of pills or combining them with alcohol or other drugs can lead to an overdose. Alcohol and opioids are particularly dangerous substances to mix with barbiturates. Due to the lack of coordination experienced during an overdose, head injuries are particularly common.

Signs of Overdose
  • Memory loss
  • Low heart rate
  • Shallow breathing
  • Coordination issues
  • Irritability
  • Clouded thinking
  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Impaired judgement

Because barbiturates act as central nervous system depressants, they can suppress breathing and gag reflexes, which can lead to deadly health complications. These can include aspiration of food or other particles into the lungs, pneumonia, and severe muscle damage. Coma and death are also possible. Individuals who overdose require immediate medical attention.

How Do You Treat Barbiturate Addiction?

Barbiturate Detox

Because barbiturates are physically addictive, individuals must go through medically-monitored detox before they can truly address the psychological aspect of their addiction. When the body rids itself of toxins, dangerous withdrawal symptoms can occur. Unmanaged symptoms can lead to complications such as hyperthermia and circulatory failure, which can be deadly.

As barbiturates leave the body, individuals face psychological and physical distress, so it is imperative to detox in the presence of a qualified medical professional.



  • Severe anxiety
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Delirium or hallucinations
  • Excessive sweating
  • Tremors and seizures
  • Anxiety and violent behavior
Barbiturate Addiction Treatment

While detox addresses physical addiction, it is important that individuals also confront the drug’s psychological and behavioral impact. Inpatient, residential programs and outpatient programs help individuals stay substance-free while providing them with the tools and education to prevent relapse and relearn healthy habits.


Supplementing traditional treatment offerings with wellness practices can help individuals better understand addiction and relearn healthy behaviors necessary for long-term, sustainable recovery.

Those recovering from barbiturate addiction can benefit from different therapeutic activities. Barbiturate users who became dependent on the drug as a cure for their insomnia may find value in Sleep Education, which can help them learn proper sleep habits. Individuals who took barbiturates to offset stress can replace their use with Writing Through Recovery, which encourages them to identify triggers and address the root of their anxiety. Another alternative to calm a hyperactive mind is Meditation, which improves focus and guides individuals into finding mental and emotional balance.

Drug rehab patient sleeping.

Sleep Education

Tips and practices to promote deep relaxation and enhance sound sleep, allowing you to sleep better and longer while in addiction treatment and after.

Addict participating in writing therapy.

Writing Through Recovery

Creative writing workshop to encourage you to explore and release inner feelings and emotions, and to relieve any pressures that can lead to stress and anxiety.

Meditation for holistic healing from drug and alcohol abuse.


Practice of centering the mind on breathing and sensations of the body to achieve mental clarity, cultivate serenity, and emotional stability.

Learn about additional holistic therapies by visiting our Wellness page.

One out of ten barbiturate-related overdoses result in death. Don’t take a chance on your life. If you or a loved one is struggling with prescription drugs, reach out for help. Our compassionate team of experts is here to help.