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Barbiturates Overview and Guide

Barbiturates are a type of CNS depressant medication that slow normal brain function and are used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders. Barbiturates will produce a wide form of effects which include sedation to anesthesia. These prescription medications are used most effectively as anticonvulsants, hypnotics or anxiolytics.

Barbiturates have a high potential for addiction both physically and psychologically. In many medical cases, due to the severity of the addictive principles of a barbiturate these prescription medications have been replaced by benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepines have a lower overdose rate and are not as dangerous as barbiturates so they are now prescribed more often than barbiturates for anxiety and certain sleep disorders such as insomnia.

Barbiturate Uses

Barbiturates are used mainly for epilepsy and as a general anesthesia. Certain people who suffer from seizure disorders such as febrile seizures, tonic-clonic seizures or status epilemticus seizures may be prescribed a barbiturate for its anticonvulsant properties. Due to the highly dangerous overdose from barbiturates and because of the introduction of safer benzodiazepine drugs, barbiturates are less commonly used today than they once were.

Certain long acting barbiturates may be prescribed for sleep disorders such as insomnia. Luminal and Mebearal are two commonly prescribed barbiturates that are used to treat sleep disorders. Taken at bedtime, these prescription medications can help to promote a sedative effect that will treat anxiety and tension that could limit sleep patters or cause insomnia.

Barbiturate Addiction and Barbiturate Tolerance

Elderly individuals are at an increased risk of developing a tolerance or an addiction to barbiturates. People who are over the age of sixty five have bodies that take longer to remove the barbiturate from the system which is likely to result in the tolerance as well as a dependence. Additionally, the elderly are also at an increased risk of accidental overdose as a result of the barbiturates lingering within the system for a prolonged period of time.

Tolerance to barbiturates is likely when these prescription medications are used for a prolonged period of time. Barbiturate dependence will develop and over time the individual who takes the medication may need more or a higher dose in order to get the original desired pharmacological or therapeutic effect from the drug. Barbiturates are highly addictive both physically and psychologically and the liability of barbiturate abuse is very high.

Psychological addiction to barbiturates is often treated with counseling or other forms of therapy. Over time, the psychological addiction can be treated and the withdrawal effects of barbiturate addiction can be eliminated. People who are addicted to barbiturates may experience serious side effects as a result of barbiturate addiction including seizures so it is important that this addiction be treated by specialists at drug rehab centers.

Consequences of Barbiturate Abuse

Barbiturates should only be used as prescribed by a doctor in order to prevent harmful negative effects including withdrawal, dependence and tolerance. People who use barbiturates will develop a tolerance for the drug over time and may need larger doses in order to feel the same effects. It is important that barbiturate doses are not increased without first consulting with a doctor because there is a possibility that the drugs remain in the system and increasing the dose may result in accidental overdose.

Barbiturates work to slow the brain activity and to stop taking barbiturates abruptly may cause the brain to race out of control. Such changes in brain activity pattern can result in seizures and other negative consequences. Withdrawal from barbiturates can be life threatening and therefore it is not recommended that an individual stop taking a barbiturate without the guidance and help of a drug counselor, doctor or drug rehab center specialist.

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