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Barbiturates are sedatives that were used before benzos came on the scene. Even though these drugs are not used much now, they still could be used as a drug of abuse. When someone overdoses on these drugs it is a serious health event that requires medical attention.
Barbiturate overdose treatment involves swift actions that will reduce the drug’s effect on body systems. Measures are taken to prevent fatal outcomes. Once the life-saving treatments are completed, the person will then transfer to a rehab program.
Someone who is addicted to barbs will need to complete a detox program prior to starting the rehab. It is never wise to stop taking the drug suddenly, as this could cause extreme withdrawals. Instead, a detox team will slowly reduce the dosing of the drug to allow the system to adjust to smaller amounts over a period of time.
Treatment will involve a menu of therapies and classes. These elements are designed to help the person form new healthy thought patterns and lifestyle habits.
What Are Barbiturates?
Barbiturates are a class of sedative-hypnotic drugs intended for the treatment of seizures, pre-op anxiety, and insomnia. Because of the mild euphoric and relaxing effects, barbiturates can be abused. In fact, the 2018 SAMHSA survey reported that more than 32,000 Americans over age 12 had admitted misusing barbiturates.
Barbiturates, a chemical derivative of barbituric acid, work by acting as a depressant on the central nervous system. These drugs cause a highly sedating effect. Because of the drugs’ addictive properties and their toxicity in the event of an overdose, doctors now prescribe benzos instead. However, these drugs are still prescribed for epilepsy, general anesthesia, and acute migraines.
How Are Barbiturates Misused?
As with any drug that can alter brain chemistry, barbiturates are highly addictive. When used often, the body will become more tolerant to its effects. This leads the person to need higher or more frequent dosing to achieve the desired effect.
The short-acting versions are the most abused form of the drug, as these provide the desired effects. These drugs include Amytal, Nembutal, Seconal, and Tuinal. When taken with alcohol, the sedating effects are enhanced. This can result in toxic poisoning. Barbs may also be combined with heroin and pain pills.
What is a Barbiturate Overdose?
Even someone who was prescribed one of these drugs for a health issue is at some risk. The toxic effects of the drugs can build up in the system. When someone has taken more of the drug than the body can safely manage, it results in an overdose. At first, the person may appear to be drunk, but those are the early barbiturate overdose symptoms. Signs and symptoms of an overdose include:
- Shallow breathing.
- Altered level of consciousness.
- Cognitive disruption.
- Low blood pressure.
- Slurred speech.
- Skin rash
- Faint pulse
- Kidney failure.
- Heart failure.
If a toxic dose has been taken call 911 for help.
Emergency Barbiturate Overdose Treatment
Getting timely treatment for the overdose is crucial, as one in ten people will die from this. The doctors will conduct these actions:
- Check the airway and if blocked will unblock the airway.
- Order blood and urine tests.
- Conduct a chest x-ray.
- Conduct an ECG.
- Provide oxygen.
- Begin IV fluids.
- Provide activated charcoal through the mouth or nose to the stomach.
- Stomach washing.
A dose of 1gram of barbiturates can be toxic, and dosage of 2-10 grams can cause death.
Treatment for Barbiturate Use Disorder
Treatment for the barbiturate problem will involve a full spectrum of actions that work in tandem to help launch recovery. Treatment can be obtained at either an outpatient or inpatient program:
- Outpatient rehab allows the person to remain at home and is obtained at a lower cost compared to inpatient treatment. However, this lower level of care is best reserved for those with a mild to moderate substance use disorder.
- Residential rehab is the higher standard of care for treatment. The programs involve the client living at the treatment center for 1-6 months where they will receive 24-hour support.
Treatment for barbiturate recovery includes:
Detox and withdrawal: Because withdrawal from barbs can be risky it is crucial that detox is done under close monitoring. The first phase of detox is to switch the person to a benzo. That is and then followed by a taper process to wean them off of the benzo. Treatments are offered to help reduce discomforts.
Therapy: Therapy is a core aspect of treatment. The therapist will guide a person to search for any issues or trauma that might be adding to the drug abuse. Some of the therapies used in treatment include:
All of these help target behavior changes. They also help to shift thought patterns away from negative thoughts toward affirming thoughts.
Group counseling. Group therapy helps peers share about their own trials and stories. Meeting with others who they can relate to can provide a safe place to find support.
Relapse Prevention: Finding ways to avoid a relapse is key. This helps to name the triggers and then to plan what actions could help manage the response to the triggers.
Other activities: Rehab programs now include measures that add to the treatment results. These might include yoga class, art therapy, massage, and meditation.
Continuing care services: After rehab is done, there are some actions that can help strengthen recovery. These might include staying a while in sober living, joining a 12-step group, and going to therapy sessions.
It is possible to break free from a barbiturate problem and reform your life with the help of an expert treatment program.
Ken Seeley Communities Provides Barbiturate Addiction Treatment
Ken Seeley Communities offers detox, rehab and sober living services. Ken Seeley founded KSC with the intent to serve people seeking treatment for an addiction.
KSC provides all aspects of addiction treatment. This includes staging interventions, outpatient and inpatient rehab, sober living housing, and continuing care services. For any questions about our programs, please contact KSC today at (877) 744-0502.