Barbiturates are drugs that are classified as sedatives-hypnotics that were used to treat individuals with sleeping disorders and help to relieve anxiety. These drugs were popular during the 1960’s and 1970’s, but they are not currently popular for use by medical professionals. These types of drugs quickly became popular as a result of the adverse effects. The drug lowered people’s inhibitions, reduce anxiety and reduce unpleasant side effects of other drugs abused. On the street these drugs are commonly known as yellow jackets, goof balls, downers and reds. The drug functions by increasing the activities of the neurotransmitter GABA, which then shuts off large portions of the brain producing a sedative and relaxing effect. Over time physicians realized that the drug was dangerous and highly addictive since the dosage they required could also put someone into a coma or death. After this discovery physicians began to use benzos instead to reduce the risk of fatality.

Barbiturates normally come in brightly colored pill form. They can also come in liquid form, which is abused by injection. By injecting this drug the user will experience a much faster high. There are different varieties of these drugs, which can last for a few minutes to a few days. Barbiturates are fat-soluble, which means they dissolve in fats. They can cross the blood barrier very easily and can be stored in the body and then later released. There has been a resurgence of barbiturate abuse in recent years, which some contribute to the rise in other drug abuse and addiction. Professionals believe that people are using barbiturates to counteract the negative effects of drugs like cocaine and methamphetamines. Prescription drug abuse is a major problem in the United States. Barbiturates are incredibly dangerous; therefore, anyone abusing them must seek treatment immediately.

Co-Occurring Disorders

Drug addiction is a multi-faceted issue. Most individuals who suffer from a drug addiction also suffer from other issues. Mental disorders can cause or help increase dependency to a controlled substance. Most people who develop addictions to barbiturates have co-occurring mental disorders. Before an addict begins treatment they have an assessment from an addiction specialist who gauges the extent of the addiction and prescribes a treatment program. During this assessment they try to discover if there are any co-occurring disorders, to which they will later address in therapy. Proper treatment treats all aspects of the addict, not just the substance addiction. Addressing co-occurring disorders is essential in creating long term sobriety. Roughly seven percent of dual-diagnosis individuals who seek treatment actually get treated for both issues; according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The correctly diagnose someone with co-occurring disorders a treatment facility will conduct a psychosocial assessment. These types of consultations help the treatment program create a unique treatment program that is best suited for the individual. Common co-occurring disorders include depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, alcoholism, substance abuse and conduct disorder.

Drug Abuse Statistics

Barbiturates are not commonly abused in the United States, but their popularity continues to rise. Studies and surveys have stated that roughly 9% of Americans will try barbiturates in their lifetime.

Signs of Abuse and Addiction

Depending on the drug of choice, addicts or substance abusers will display a multitude of signs of their addictions. The one common factor that all addicts show is their negligence of normal activities, interests and responsibilities. Drug abusers and addicts slow become shells of themselves. They will display less interest in their normal hobbies or interaction with friends and families. Addicts seclude and isolate themselves from their loved ones because they understand the wrong they are doing. When a loved one becomes secretive and irresponsible without a reason, it could be a drug problem. Addicts normally have difficult times managing social relationships, finances and will have legal troubles. Addiction is not completely understood, even after the advancements in technology and medicine today. What we do know about addiction is that it is caused by a combination of Genetics, Brain Chemistry, Psychology and Environment. Individuals who are exposed to drugs or substance abuse are much more likely to experiment or abuse drugs in their lifetime. Children who grow up in homes that abuse substance, misuse drugs or alcohol or are indifferent (not adamantly against substance abuse) are more likely to develop addictions later in their lives. Genetics plays a key role as science has shown a connection of drug abuse/addiction between parents and children. Families that have a history of addiction are more likely to repeat that addiction down the generations. Brain chemistry is transformed by drugs and can increase an individual’s chances of developing an addiction. Finally, psychology has an important role in developing an addiction. Co-occurring disorders play a major role in addiction. Individuals with mental disorders are more likely to develop addictions as a result of self-prescribing to feel better.


Since barbiturates are not very popular in the United States most individuals abusing sedatives with abuse drugs more popular like Benzodiazepines. These drugs work similarly to barbiturates, but became popular because they were less dangers than barbiturates. Benzodiazepines depress the central nervous system. Drugs that contain benzodiazepines (Xanax, Valium, Klonopin), are used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders; they are used by millions and also used for insomnia. These drugs attack the neurotransmitter GABA in the brain. Which, decreases brain activity resulting in a drowsy or calming effect. Nembutaland and Mebaral, also central nervous system depressants, are used for anesthesia, seizures, insomnia, or anxiety. Like any other drug, the longer one consumers it the more they need to take to achieve the same effects as the first time. Quitting central nervous system depressions abruptly can lead to severe withdrawal effects, such as withdrawal seizures.

Getting Help

Drug abuse and addiction affects millions of Americans every year. Unfortunately, the negative stigma of addiction and drugs forces addicts into seclusion and are unwilling to reach out for help. Speaking to a friend or family member about addiction is the best way to get your life back on track. If you or someone you know could have an addiction to barbiturates it is important to seek professional help. Barbiturate treatment includes both in and outpatient programs. Addicts are not recommended to try to quit or radically reduce taking the drug on their own without professional help because of the dangerous side effects of withdrawal. Treatment for Barbiturates, like other drugs, requires a multi-faceted approach that looks at both the physical and mental damages from the drug. It is imperative that a treatment program address possible underlying mental disorders that caused or were an outcome of abuse. The best way to seek treatment is to speak with an addiction professional for help. There are a great number of treatment centers and professionals that are ready, willing and able to help.