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Barbiturates Withdrawal Symptoms

Barbiturates or barbs, as they are fondly called, are central nervous system (CNS) depressants prescribed to treat insomnia. Although they are effective sleep aids, due to their high potential for addiction, currently, benzos have replaced them. Still, barbiturates are used as a general anesthetic, and as medicine for acute migraines and epilepsy.

They are also sometimes used for physician-assisted suicides (euthanasia). They are used as lethal injections in the United States for capital punishment. As much as they are known for their efficacy in being the most preferred anticonvulsants and hypnotics, barbiturates are quite addictive. Once an individual develops a tolerance for the drug, quitting can be extremely difficult and barbiturates withdrawal incredibly painful.

Sudden withdrawal may prove fatal, which is why it is recommended to get the treatment from trained and licensed professionals in a medical facility.

The treatment for barbiturate dependence starts with a gradual cessation of using the drug, strictly under medical advice. Otherwise, the patients may experience a rapid progression in the withdrawal symptoms, from mild to severe effects.

Barbiturate withdrawal effects may include:

  • High core body temperature
  • Seizures and hallucinations
  • Respiratory arrest
  • Anxiety and insomnia
  • Psychosis and severe agitation
  • Sweating and tremors


Barbiturates Withdrawal Timeline

As you may know, the intensity and duration of any drug withdrawal depend on a range of factors, such as age, gender, health conditions, and how long they stay addicted to the substance. Likewise, barbiturates withdrawal timeline is specific to an individual.

Even when you are not quitting the substance, and are still using, a gap of as much of 72 hours between two intakes can induce intense symptoms. However, these may be based on the type of barbiturates taken. You can witness the peak withdrawal stage within 2-4 days for short-acting barbiturates. For extended-release drugs, symptoms may peak at about 4-7 days. Overall, withdrawal symptoms of barbiturates may last from 1-2 weeks or longer.

Days 1-3: The first withdrawal symptoms start to appear; these are the most severe signs that last up to 2 days. Individuals may experience severe tremors, vomiting, diarrhea, breathlessness, nausea, and excessive sweating. They become more intense up to 3 days after the cessation. This is the time when formers users of barbiturates are the most vulnerable to all sorts of serious medical complications.

Days 4-10: Insomnia sets in as the addicted persons have trouble sleeping and stay up all night. However, withdrawal symptoms start to subside for around 7 days. Your body tries to cope with the absence of the drug in your system. As you begin to recover, you may feel nausea, cramping, sweating, muscle aches, and tremors.

Days 11-17: You can see the onset of psychological symptoms of withdrawal as the physical signs start to fade away. You may feel anxiety, panic, or paranoia. Extreme fatigue can be a side effect of panic attacks, and depression starts to set in.

Days 18 and Beyond: Once you have reached this stage, it means that the worst is over. Still, there will be lingering withdrawal symptoms that continue to lessen over the next few days. However, psychological symptoms of barbiturates withdrawal, such as depression, anxiety, and others may haunt you for several weeks.

Barbiturates Some Shocking Statistics

  • Almost 75% of people with addiction to barbiturates may have seizures due to withdrawal.
  • In 2013, over 396 deaths in the U.S. were caused due to barbiturates, either alone or in combination with other drugs or illnesses.
  • 66% of the abusers may experience delirium for several days or even weeks.
  • In 2018, it was found that among 405,000 Americans over 12 years of age who used barbiturates, 32,000 were misusing them.

Detox: Managing the Symptoms of Barbiturates Withdrawal

People who suffer from barbiturate dependence issues will likely need an approved medically-supervised detoxification plan.

In severe cases, barbiturate withdrawal can be deadly. So, it is better for the person in recovery to go through proper channels for getting rid of their addiction. The first step is to go in for medical detox. In this program, you will become free of your dependence on barbiturates. Using the tapering method, healthcare professionals can gradually reduce the dosage of barbiturates you use, finally bringing the dosage level to zero.

The primary focus of the physicians during your medical barbiturate detox is on making you comfortable and teaching you to manage your symptoms. They may also start administering psychiatric medications if necessary. This process is helpful in keeping your vitals stable and prepare your mind and body for the actual addiction treatment.

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Barbiturate Detox

It is the first step towards recovery from barbiturates addiction. Detox purges your body of all the toxic chemicals and reduces the harmful effects of addiction and withdrawal. This way, you will essentially go back to the state you were in before you started abusing the substance.

As with many medical assisted programs, it has to be done under the supervision of professionals. Otherwise, you may face more severe consequences. Medical detox can help you take control of the situation and manage the debilitating withdrawal symptoms. Based on your abuse history, medical condition, and intensity of addiction, you will exhibit the drug dependency.

Since barbiturates are “downers,” they have the utmost sedative and hypnotic properties. They affect the brain’s GABA receptors and neurotransmitters, slowing down its functionality. Barbiturates detox regimens take into account all these factors and formulate a plan for tapering off. In due course, you will be able to stop experiencing cravings for the drug and its withdrawal effects completely.

Here are two types of detox methods:

Inpatient Detox

People with severe withdrawal symptoms are advised to enroll themselves in an inpatient detox program. Here, they will receive 24/7 care at a residential medical detox facility. This kind of monitoring by medical professionals can help in cases of emergencies. Without wasting any time, they can start the required treatment as opposed to the patient being somewhere else and coming to them.

Outpatient Detox

In very rare cases, outpatient detox will be recommended. Still, it is an ideal choice for people that cannot afford to spend their money or time on an inpatient facility. For instance, if you are a student or an employee, you may not afford to take a leave of absence from school or work to stay at a residential clinic. The next situation is when the patient’s addiction is not so intense or they do display only mild symptoms of barbiturates withdrawal, it can be a good option.

You only have to visit the treatment facility a couple of times a week or every evening, depending on the program. You will receive regular monitoring, check-ins from the experts, and take some prescription medications.

The Next Step After Detox

Going through a detox process helps you prevent reaching out for the substance actively. Meaning, you can function adequately as the severity of withdrawal signs lessen. But it is only half the outcome achieved. Then, comes the treatment part. Detox will provide you with the necessary tools to help you through your journey of overcoming addiction.

In order to overcome addiction, you have to consider what will be your next step. By joining a treatment plan, you will come to understand at what stage you are with the addiction. Along with physicians and detox specialists, you will also meet mental health professionals. You will undergo a thorough psychological evaluation that helps the doctors determine any underlying concerns that may contribute to drug abuse. Once you receive a clean bill of mental health from the specialists, they decide that you can move on to further treatment.

Barbiturates Addiction Treatment Options

Barbiturates dependence may foster both physical and mental addiction, and your best treatment option would be determined by considering all these conditions.

Enroll with the best drug rehab centers to have access to excellent medical care where their heart rate, breathing, and other body functions are thoroughly monitored. Then, a personalized treatment plan is formulated for your specific needs.

Several rehab centers provide comprehensive methods of treatment to get rid of barbiturate addiction. You will need to undergo traditional forms of therapy like group or individual sessions, addiction counseling, and other alternative and holistic forms of healing programs to deal with the uncomfortable symptoms of abuse.

Select a recovery center that has a compassionate team that can implement the best practices in a safe and calming environment. They must be well-versed with industry-leading treatment protocols for drug abuse.

The recovery process is not limited to treating the symptoms in their rehabilitative programs but they also help you deal with relapse triggers and prevent further abuse to have a healthy and happy life in the long run.

Seeking Help for Barbiturate Addiction Treatment

If you know someone who is an abuser or you yourself want to seek treatment for barbiturate addiction, finding the right rehab center is the key. Search for the top nationally recognized drug and alcohol abuse treatment centers on our website.


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