Prescription medications can save your life if they are used properly. Unfortunately many of them can be addictive and habit forming if they are misused or abused. In 2010, 16 million Americans reported using prescription medicines for non-medical reasons. When broken down, that number includes all prescription medications including depressants, stimulants, opioids and other compounds.
Phenobarbital, a commonly abused prescription medication, is not only physically addictive, but mentally addictive as well. This addiction and dependence is due, in part, to the tolerance that so often results from abuse. With a heightened tolerance to phenobarbital, individuals using the drug will take more than prescribed to achieve the same effects as when they first started using it.
Overcoming an addiction is more than just removing the desire to use drugs. It requires a healing of the body, mind and spirit. This is part of the reason that so many people discover freedom from phenobarbital addiction in the safety of an inpatient rehab center.
What Is Phenobarbital?
Also known as Luminal and Bellergal-S, phenobarbital is a long-acting barbiturate which depresses the central nervous system and treats over activity of your brain. In medicine, phenobarbital can be used to treat epilepsy, anxiety and insomnia.
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It’s also widely used in veterinary practices to treat dogs with epilepsy. Phenobarbital was also once the primary medication used in treatment of acute withdrawal symptoms.
Nowadays barbiturates “are used less frequently to reduce anxiety or to help with sleep problems because of their higher risk of overdose compared to benzodiazepines” (National Institute on Drug Abuse). That being said, benzodiazepines have mostly replaced barbiturates for management of sedative withdrawal syndrome.
There are still cases that come up where phenobarbital and other barbiturates are more appropriate and safer than using another benzodiazepine to help treat acute withdrawal syndrome in patients who have a history of abusing benzodiazepines.
Phenobarbital is listed as a Schedule IV controlled substance by the Drug Enforcement Administration because of it has a somewhat lower potential for abuse and dependence than say, ketamine, opioids or cocaine.
Where it’s available, someone you know may abuse phenobarbital for its sedating and hypnotic effects. It can be snorted, swallowed, or injected into the bloodstream for the fastest results. On the street, phenobarbital and other barbiturates go by some of these names:
- purple hearts
- red birds
- yellow jackets
What Are The Effects Of Phenobarbital?
Phenobarbital is a type of tranquilizer that can make a person feel tired, relaxed and comfortable. In the world of drug abuse, the calm feeling that comes from barbiturates is what keeps people using them. The danger of abusing phenobarbital is that it can be difficult to stop using it alone.
This is partly because as you build up a tolerance to phenobarbital, you may need to increase dose sizes to maintain the feeling it produces; this can rapidly cause dependence and addiction.
Many people won’t understand how hard it can be to overcome an addiction to phenobarbital until they try to stop. Sometimes it just takes people who understand addiction to help you achieve a healthy balance.
Maybe you or someone you know is abusing barbiturates for the calming effect they produce but we want to inform you that they can also be life-threatening. Additionally, mixing phenobarbital with alcohol or opioids can increase risk of respiratory distress and death.
The effects of phenobarbital may also include:
- reduced anxiety
- feelings of well-being
- lowered inhibitions
- slurred speech
- poor concentration
- impaired coordination and memory/slowed pulse
- lowered blood pressure
- slowed breathing
What Are The Signs Of Phenobarbital Abuse?
It can be difficult to determine if someone you care about is abusing phenobarbital but it may help you to understand that the signs of barbiturate intoxication are similar to those of alcohol. Phenobarbital dependence and addiction can have similarities to chronic alcoholism as well.
What does addiction mean? Essentially addiction is when the enjoyed euphoria and escape from a drug turns into compulsive use and obsession. A person who becomes addicted to phenobarbital may want to stop but doesn’t know how or who to turn to for help.
While abusing phenobarbital, you may not be able to stand up straight, or be able to focus their attention or eye sight. Phenobarbital abuse even results in slurred speech. Further abuse may result in confusion, irritability, insomnia and extreme intoxication.
Phenobarbital overdose may occur if you use too much. One gram of phenobarbital can lead to a poisonous dose in many adults. After that, two to ten grams commonly results in death. With any drug, overdose is always considered a medical emergency so here are some of the symptoms to look for:
- pupil constriction
- lowered body temperature (can result in hypothermia)
- slowed breathing
Some of the other complications that can occur from phenobarbital overdose are pneumonia, heart failure, pulmonary edema and kidney failure.
What Are Phenobarbital Withdrawal Symptoms?
You very well may experience withdrawal symptoms eight to twelve hours after you stop taking phenobarbital. These symptoms are more intense and more likely to occur the longer you use the drug. Phenobarbital withdrawal symptoms may include:
- muscle twitching
- tremor of hands and fingers
- progressive weakness
- distortion in visual perception
- orthostatic hypotension
Is Phenobarbital A Problem In Texas?
Phenobarbital has become a problem in Texas but the scope is truly much larger than that. Across the United States, both adults and youth might be willing to try anything they come across in the medicine cabinet.
In her works on drug abuse, Jane Carlisle Maxwell, Ph.D. of The University of Texas at Austin stated,“the 2004 Texas secondary school survey reported lifetime use of downers was 5.9% and past-month use was 2.6%.” Downers include three different categories of drugs: barbiturates, non-barbiturate sedatives and benzodiazepines.
Carlisle goes on to say that, “the 2002-2004 NSDUH (National Survey on Drug Use and Health) reported 0.2% of Texans ages 12 and older had used sedatives in the past year, with 0.2% past-year use in the DFW (Dallas Fort-Worth) metro area and 0.1% in the Houston region.”
How To Treat Phenobarbital Addiction And Dependence
An Inpatient Drug Rehabilitation Program is the best way to combat an addiction to phenobarbital. At Vertava Health of Texas, we can will detox you from phenobarbital under medical supervision.
Along with detoxification, the addiction treatment programs we offer can help you replace your old drug using behaviors with healthy ones:
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy
- Medication-Assisted Therapy
- Motivational Interviewing
- Mindfulness and Stress Management Practices
- Cognitive Behavior Therapy
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Contact one of our treatment specialist at Vertava Health of Texas to find out if our program is right for you. All calls are 100 percent confidential. We can help you or a loved one get into treatment today.