Barbiturates: Uses, side effects, and risks




A barbiturate is a drug that acts as a central nervous system depressant, and can therefore produce a wide spectrum of effects, from mild sedation to total anesthesia. They are also effective as anxiolytics, hypnotics, and anticonvulsants. Barbiturates have addiction potential, both physical and psychological. They have largely been replaced by benzodiazepines in routine medical practice, particularly in the treatment of anxiety and insomnia, due to the significantly lower risk of overdose and the lack of an antidote for barbiturate overdose. Despite this, barbiturates are still in use for various purposes: in general anesthesia, epilepsy, treatment of acute migraines or cluster headaches, euthanasia, capital punishment, and assisted suicide.

The name barbiturate originates from the fact that they are all chemical derivatives of barbituric acid.

Barbiturates are central nervous depressants. They reduce the activity of nerves causing muscle relaxation. They can reduce heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure. All barbiturates affect gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter (chemical) that nerves use to communicate with one another.

Barbiturates are a class of drugs that were used extensively in the 1960s and 1970s as a treatment for anxiety, insomnia, and seizure disorders. Apart from a few specific indications, they are not commonly prescribed these days, having been largely superseded by benzodiazepines, which are much safer, although still potentially addictive.

Barbiturates are known as central nervous system depressants. They enhance the action of GABA, a neurotransmitter that inhibits the activity of nerve cells in the brain.

Barbiturates are a group of drugs that have calming effects on the body. They can produce effects similar to those of alcohol, ranging from mild relaxation to an inability to feel pain and loss of consciousness.

The first barbiturates were made in the 1860s by the Bayer laboratories in Germany. Barbiturates increase the activity of a chemical in the brain that helps transmit signals. This chemical is known as gamma amino butyric acid (GABA).

How quickly barbiturates act and how long their effects last can vary. They can be classified as ultra short-, short-, intermediate-, and long-acting. When people take barbiturates by mouth, their effects begin within 30 minutes of swallowing and last from 5 to 6 hours.

Barbiturates are a group of drugs in the class of drugs known as sedative-hypnotics, which generally describes their sleep-inducing and anxiety-decreasing effects.

Barbiturates can be extremely dangerous because the correct dose is difficult to predict. Even a slight overdose can cause coma or death. Barbiturates are also addictive and can cause a life-threatening withdrawal syndrome.

Barbiturate, any of a class of organic compounds used in medicine as sedatives (to produce a calming effect), as hypnotics (to produce sleep), or as an adjunct in anesthesia. Barbiturates are derivatives of barbituric acid (malonyl urea), which is formed from malonic acid and urea. Barbital was first synthesized in 1903, and phenobarbital became available in 1912. Barbiturates act by depressing the central nervous system, particularly on certain portions of the brain, though they tend to depress the functioning of all the body’s tissues. Most of them exert a sedative effect in small doses and a hypnotic effect in larger doses. The barbiturates have largely been replaced as sedatives by the benzodiazepines and other minor tranquilizers, which have fewer unfavourable side effects and less abuse potential.

Barbiturates are CNS depressants, also called sedatives or tranquilizers, which are used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders. These drugs have largely been replaced in prescription use by benzodiazepines, but are still used for surgeries and to treat seizure disorders. They can also be highly addictive and present high risk of overdose, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

Barbiturates work by suppressing the CNS—essentially, they slow brain functions. Slowing brain function affects the parts of the body which control voluntary actions. With increased dosage, barbiturates affect a person’s automatic, unconscious functions, such as breathing and heart rate. It is in this way that barbiturate abuse and addiction is dangerous.

Barbiturates are medicines that act on the central nervous system and cause drowsiness and can control seizures.

Barbiturates are synthetic substances manufactured as pharmaceutical products. They act as depressants of the central nervous system. The parent compound barbituric acid was first synthesised in 1864 but the first pharmacologically active agent, barbital, was not produced until 1881 and introduced to medicine in 1904. The most widely used compound, phenobarbital, was synthesised in 1911 and first used clinically the following year. While some 2 500 derivatives have been synthesised, only about 50 have ever been used medically.

The use of barbiturates as sedative/hypnotics has largely been superseded by the benzodiazepine group. Some barbiturates are now more widely used in the treatment of epilepsy and shorter acting molecules are used in anaesthesia. Twelve barbiturates are under international control.

Barbiturates are a class of drugs developed from barbituric acid. This acid has no medicinal value on its own, but drugs derived from it can increase the action of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA is a neurotransmitter that can affect nerve cell activity in the brain. Barbiturates are depressant drugs that slow down the central nervous system (CNS), and they are commonly used to treat issues like anxiety, headaches, insomnia, and seizures. Some can also be used as an effective anesthesia.

Barbiturates have been in use for a long time relative to most medications today, as they were first introduced in the 1900s. These drugs often cause a mild sense of euphoria, decreased anxiety, and sleepiness when used properly. Barbiturates ranges from Schedule II to Schedule IV drugs, and there are about 12 different types still in use.

Barbiturates are a group of drugs in the class of drugs known as sedative-hypnotics, which generally describes their sleep-inducing and anxiety-decreasing effects. While barbiturate abuse may not be as talked about as some other drugs, statistics show that it is a significant health risk.There is just a small difference between the dose that causes desired sedation and that which causes coma and death. Addiction can result from using high doses of this group of medications for as little as one month, and withdrawal symptoms may be life threatening.

Barbs, barbies, blue bullets, blue devils, gorillas, nembies, pink ladies, red devils, sleepers, Amytal, Sodium Amytal, Soneryl, Seconal and Tuinal

Barbiturates are synthetic drugs which used to be regularly prescribed for anxiety, depression and insomnia. They have now almost entirely been replaced by benzodiazepines. This was partly due to their ability to cause dependence and also because of the small difference between a normal dose and an overdose.

Barbiturates used to be a regular feature of the UK drugs scene but because there is very little prescribing and no illicitly made varieties, little is seen of them these days.

Side effects

There are special risks to consider for older adults, women who are pregnant, and babies. When a person ages, the body becomes less able to rid itself of barbiturates. As a result, people over the age of sixty-five are at higher risk of experiencing the harmful effects of barbiturates, including drug dependence and accidental overdose.[12] When barbiturates are taken during pregnancy, the drug passes through the placenta to the fetus. After the baby is born, it may experience withdrawal symptoms and have trouble breathing. In addition, nursing mothers who take barbiturates may transmit the drug to their babies through breast milk.[13] A rare adverse reaction to barbiturates is Stevens-Johnson syndrome, which primarily affects the mucous membranes.

Common side effects of barbiturates are:

  • dizziness,
  • lightheadedness,
  • sedation,
  • headache,
  • nausea,
  • vomiting, and
  • abdominal pain.

Barbiturates can slow breathing, reduce heart rate, and they can be habit forming.

When used according to instructions, the most common side effects of barbiturates are drowsiness, relaxation, and feeling sick.

More serious side effects of barbiturate use may include:

  • Lack of coordination
  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Problems with remembering things

A major problem with barbiturates is that they can cause tolerance and dependence. Tolerance is when a greater amount of a drug is required to get the desired effect. Dependence is when withdrawal symptoms occur if the person stops using the drug.

Side effects of barbiturates are similar to those of alcohol, which is also a depressant, and may include:

  • Changes in concentration
  • Changes to judgment
  • Confusion
  • Headache
  • Lack of or low regard for inhibitions
  • Impact to coordination and vision
  • Impact on speech: slow, mumbling, or incoherent
  • Memory problems
  • Slowed reflexes
  • Vomiting

The most common side effects are dizziness, light-headedness, drowsiness, and clumsiness or unsteadiness. These problems usually go away as the body adjusts to the drug and do not require medical treatment unless they persist or interfere with normal activities.

More serious side effects are not common, but may occur. If any of the following side effects occur, check with the physician who prescribed the medicine immediately:

  • fever
  • muscle or joint pain
  • sore throat
  • chest pain or tightness in the chest
  • wheezing
  • skin problems, such as rash, hives, or red, thickened, or scaly skin
  • bleeding sores on the lips
  • sores or painful white spots in the mouth
  • swollen eyelids, face, or lips
  • In addition, check with a physician as soon as possible if confusion, depression, or unusual excitement occur after taking barbiturates.

Patients who take barbiturates for a long time or at high doses may notice side effects for some time after they stop taking the drug. These effects usually appear within 8-16 hours after the patient stops taking the medicine. Check with a physician if these or other troublesome symptoms occur after stopping treatment with barbiturates:

  • dizziness, lightheadedness or faintness
  • anxiety or restlessness
  • hallucinations
  • vision problems
  • nausea and vomiting
  • seizures (convulsions)
  • muscle twitches or trembling hands
  • weakness
  • sleep problems, nightmares, or increased dreaming

Other side effects may occur. Anyone who has unusual symptoms during or after treatment with barbiturates should get in touch with his or her physician.

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