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Barbiturate Addiction: Signs, Symptoms, & Treatment

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Barbiturates belong to the class of sedative-hypnotic medications, inducing feelings of relaxation or drowsiness. With a history of use spanning over a century, these drugs have been indicated to address conditions like seizures, migraines, and insomnia. Despite their traditional significance, their use has diminished due to concerns about misuse and associated side effects. That said, they may be considered as an alternative treatment option when other approaches prove ineffective. Read on to learn more about barbiturate addiction issues and discover how to connect with evidence-based treatment in Southern California.

Are Barbiturates Addictive?

Barbiturates are highly addictive because they cause the body to develop a tolerance to the drug. This means that the body needs to take increasing amounts of the drug to achieve the same effects. When someone stops taking barbiturates abruptly, they may experience withdrawal symptoms, which can be severe or even fatal.

Signs of Barbiturate Addiction

Barbiturates, like alcohol, are often referred to as brain relaxers, a fitting description given their strikingly similar effects. Opioids, sleeping pills, and antihistamines produce similar outcomes. Indicators of addiction to barbiturates may include the following manifestations:

Mood symptoms may include:

  • Euphoria
  • Pleasure
  • Relaxation
  • Feeling high
  • Impaired clarity of thought
  • Overall sense of well-being
  • Intense relaxation
  • Irritability
  • Agitation
  • Mood swings

Behavioral symptoms may include:

  • Slurred, jumbled speech patterns
  • Poor concentration
  • Intoxicated behavior
  • Impaired interpersonal skills
  • Loss of inhibitions
  • Reckless behavior
  • Violent outbursts
  • Slow speech
  • Uncharacteristically bold actions
  • Inability to meet important obligations at school, work, or home

Physical symptoms may include:

  • Physical dependence
  • Withdrawal symptoms
  • Profound drowsiness
  • Decreased blood pressure
  • Dizziness
  • Inability to stay awake
  • Loss of muscle coordination
  • Staggering
  • High fever
  • Cardiovascular shock
  • Frequent respiratory tract infections
  • Shallow breathing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Seizures
  • Kidney dysfunction
  • Respiratory arrest
  • Coma
  • Death

Psychological symptoms may include:

  • Addiction
  • Marked confusion
  • Delirium
  • Extreme confusion
  • Disorientation
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia
  • Combativeness
  • Hostility towards others
  • Altered thought processes
  • Memory loss
imager representing barbiturate addiction symptoms

Barbiturate Addiction Symptoms

DSM-5-TR guidelines state that substance use disorder is characterized by persistent patterns of symptoms resulting from the ongoing use of a substance despite adverse consequences. DSM, drawing on extensive research, outlines 11 criteria associated with substance misuse, which can be categorized into impaired control, physical dependence, social issues, and risky use:

  1. Consuming more of a substance or using it for longer than intended.
  2. Attempting to reduce or quit substance use without success.
  3. Experiencing strong cravings or urges to use the substance.
  4. Developing tolerance, requiring increased amounts of the substance for the desired effect.
  5. Experiencing withdrawal symptoms upon discontinuation of the substance.
  6. Devoting significant time to obtaining, using, and recovering from substance use.
  7. Neglecting responsibilities at home, work, or school due to substance use.
  8. Persisting in substance use despite causing problems in relationships.
  9. Sacrificing important social and recreational activities because of substance use.
  10. Engaging in substance use in risky settings that pose a danger.
  11. Continuing substance use despite its detrimental impact on physical and mental health.


Treatment for Barbiturate Addiction

Addressing addiction to prescription barbiturates is a complex process that typically requires comprehensive and individualized treatment approaches. 

Medical detoxification

Barbiturate withdrawal can be challenging and, in some cases, life-threatening. Medical detoxification in a supervised setting is essential for managing withdrawal symptoms and ensuring safety. Healthcare professionals may gradually taper the dose of barbiturates to minimize withdrawal effects.

Inpatient or outpatient rehab

In cases of severe barbiturate addiction, inpatient rehab provides a structured and supportive environment for individuals to focus on recovery. It involves intensive therapy, counseling, and medical supervision. The residential setting helps minimize external triggers and influences. Outpatient rehab programs offer a more flexible and affordable route to recovery for those with milder barbiturate addictions and stable home environments.

Behavioral therapies

Various therapeutic approaches, such as CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy), contingency management, and motivational enhancement therapy, can effectively treat barbiturate addiction. These therapies help people identify and change patterns of behavior, develop coping skills, and address underlying issues contributing to addiction.

Group therapy

Group therapy sessions provide individuals with a supportive community of peers facing similar challenges. Sharing experiences, insights, and coping strategies engenders a sense of connection and encourages accountability in the recovery process.

Family therapy

Involving family members in the treatment process can be beneficial for long-term recovery. Family therapy addresses communication patterns, educates loved ones about addiction, and helps build a supportive home environment.

Dual diagnosis treatment

Individuals with co-occurring mental health disorders like anxiety or depression require integrated treatment for both conditions. Dual diagnosis treatment addresses the interconnected nature of substance abuse and mental health issues.

Holistic approaches

Holistic therapies, including yoga, meditation, acupuncture, and art therapy, can complement traditional addiction treatment. These approaches promote overall well-being, stress reduction, and self-discovery.

MAT (medication-assisted treatment)

While there are no specific medications approved for treating barbiturate addiction, MAT may be used to manage certain withdrawal symptoms or address co-occurring mental health conditions. The use of medications is determined on a case-by-case basis.

Aftercare planning

Planning for ongoing support and relapse prevention is a vital component of barbiturate addiction treatment. Aftercare may include outpatient therapy, 12-step programs, counseling, and other support services to assist individuals in maintaining long-term sobriety.

Those seeking treatment for barbiturates addiction should undergo a thorough assessment by healthcare professionals to determine the most appropriate and effective course of action. A tailored treatment plan that addresses the unique needs and challenges of the individual enhances the likelihood of successful recovery.

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Find Treatment for Barbiturate Addiction at Drug Rehabs Centers

If you or someone that you care about needs treatment for prescription drug addiction, finding the most appropriate assistance can be frustrating and challenging. Reach out to Drug Rehab Centers and we can connect you with treatment providers, addiction specialists, and inpatient or outpatient rehabs throughout the state of California.

If you gave developed physically dependence on barbiturates, engaging with a supervised medical detox can help reduce the intensity of the withdrawal process through a tapered reduction in dosage combined with close medical supervision. We can provide referrals to detox facilities near you.

Call (844) 739-2005 for immediate assistance combating barbiturate addiction.

Juan Bonnet
Author: Juan Bonnet


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