Signs and Symptoms of Barbiturate Abuse

person taking barbiturates

Barbiturates are drugs used to help a person sleep. They have long been recognized to have serious dangers, the greatest being that the dosage to create a desirable effect—the ability to sleep when a person is suffering from insomnia—is not far from the lethal dose of the drug. In other words, it does not take much of an overdose to kill a person.

The other major danger is that they are addictive. In the United Kingdom, doctors have spoken out against the use of barbiturates, resulting in fewer prescriptions and fewer people abusing the drug. (The more a drug is prescribed, the more that drug is diverted to the illicit market.) Tens of thousands of people died of barbiturate-related deaths in the UK before the situation was brought under control.

In the United States, the use of barbiturates was to some degree replaced by benzodiazepines. But benzos are also addictive and can cause overdose deaths, especially when they are combined with opiates, alcohol or muscle relaxants. Barbiturate overdoses most frequently involve multiple drug use, especially barbiturates plus alcohol or opiates including heroin, hydrocodone or oxycodone. This is a potentially lethal combination, as all these drugs tend to suppress breathing.

Signs and Symptoms of Barbiturate Abuse and Overdose

This drug is normally abused to give a person a relaxed, sleepy feeling. They will lose their inhibitions and may walk unevenly and slur their speech as though drunk. Their blood pressure will drop and they will breathe more slowly. They will experience a lowering of anxiety.

If a person takes TOO much of this drug, the signs are striking.

Signs and Symptoms of Barbiturate Abuse:

  • Difficulty thinking
  • Poor judgment
  • Slow and shallow breathing
  • Talking slow
  • Lethargy
  • Extreme sleepiness or even coma
  • Poor coordination
  • Inability to walk properly, staggering or stumbling

If a person uses too much of this drug for too long, they can simply cease to function at an expected or efficient level. They can be irritable and have little memory. They will lack awareness of their surroundings, their problems, and dangers.

Some young people who have been abusing stimulant drugs may seek barbiturates to help them come down from the high of the stimulant. Today’s young drug abusers will not have experienced the heavier periods of barbiturate use and abuse that occurred in the 1960s and 1970s and so may abuse these dangerous drugs without realizing the problems that can occur, including overdose deaths. In the 1960s, Judy Garland and Marilyn Monroe abused barbiturates. An overdose of Nembutal killed Marilyn Monroe. Jimi Hendrix died of a barbiturate overdose in 1970.

Miscarriages and birth defects are also signs of barbiturate abuse.

Leaving Barbiturate Addiction Behind

Like many other drugs, barbiturates dissolve easily in fatty solutions. In the body, this means that these drugs are attracted to and will tend to bond to fat deposits. The character of fat in the body means that these deposits may store drug residues. A person who has abused barbiturates may carry the effects of these drugs around with them for years, which can cloud thinking, dim perceptions and contribute to the triggering of cravings for more drugs.

There is a way that these lasting symptoms of barbiturate abuse can be cleared away. On the Narconon drug and alcohol rehab program, one phase of that program addresses these drug residues.

This phase utilizes a low-heat sauna, moderate daily exercise and a strict regimen of nutritional supplements. This combination engages the body’s ability to start flushing out these stored residues. As the residues trickle out through the sweat or other channels of elimination, a person’s outlook brightens. Thinking gets clearer. Life gets brighter—all according to the reports of those completing this step. They also report lowered or eliminated cravings. As cravings are a huge stumbling block for a person seeking to stop abusing drugs and alcohol, elimination of cravings is a major milestone on the way to being drug-free and sober.

Next on the Narconon program are life skills courses where the student learns vital skills needed to maintain a drug-free life.

The program’s goal is a drug-free individual.

See Also


Sign up free to receive our email newsletter: