You may not hear that much about barbiturates anymore, as they’re not prescribed like they were back in their popular days in the ’60s and ’70s. Barbiturates are sedative-hypnotics known for their calming effects in treating anxiety or sleep disorder. Barbiturates like phenobarbital, barbital, and allobarbital depress the central nervous system, producing a sedative effect.

However, due to their highly addictive nature, as well as the fact that they are deathly dangerous in high doses, they have been replaced mainly by benzodiazepines in recent years.

Despite their lack of popularity among healthcare providers, barbiturates still get into the hands of those who misuse or abuse them for recreational uses. On the streets, they are known as downers, yellow jackets, red, or goofballs. What users may not realize is how dangerous and addictive they are.

What Are Barbiturate Withdrawal Symptoms?

If you misuse barbiturates, over time, you will likely become dependent or addicted to them. This can make it challenging to give up using the drug because when you try, you will experience some uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.  If you find yourself not able to stop using barbiturates, seek the help of addiction specialists at a detox or residential treatment center to contend with the withdrawal symptoms.

Common barbiturate withdrawal symptoms include:

  •      High fever
  •         Nausea
  •         Vomiting
  •         Restlessness
  •         Anxiety
  •         Feeling tired
  •         Insomnia
  •         Aggression

More serious symptoms include:

  •         Hallucinations
  •         Seizures
  •         Circulatory failure
  •         Delirium
  •         Tremors
  •         Convulsions
  •         Death

What Are the Stages in the Barbiturate Withdrawal Timeline?

Not everyone experiences withdrawal the same way. How quickly you get through the withdrawal timeline, as well as the severity of withdrawal symptoms, can vary from person to person, depending on factors such as:

  •         What type of barbiturate was used
  •         The dose of the drug
  •         How long you were on the drug
  •         The half-life of the drug
  •         Frequency taken
  •         Method of ingestion
  •         Age
  •         Metabolism
  •         History of drug addiction
  •         Polydrug use
  •         Level of tolerance
  •         Dietary habits
  •         Support network

In general, most people are able to get through barbiturate withdrawal within one or two weeks. Those that are considered heavy users tend to experience withdrawal a little longer, perhaps with some lingering symptoms for weeks or months. Mild users should expect to get through the withdrawal process sooner.

Here is a general barbiturate withdrawal timeline:

Days 1-3

You may begin to feel some withdrawal effects within the first or second day of withdrawal. You may begin to feel anxious, nauseous, and may vomit. You may have trouble sleeping, feel tired, a bit agitated, and perhaps have some cravings. Some of your symptoms will be at their worst or peak around days two or three. It is critical that you seek the care of healthcare professionals so that they can monitor to you for the more severe withdrawal symptoms like seizures, delirium, or hallucinations.

Days 4 – 7

Once you hit day five, you may begin feeling better. Physically, your body has likely rid itself of most of the toxins associated with the drug. Your body is now better able to get back to balance, helping you feel relief. You may still continue with lingering symptoms like cravings, anxiety, sleep issues, and mood swings. Continued support through this detox stage is essential.

Week 2 and beyond

If you were heavily addicted to barbiturates, you may still find yourself struggling during week two with some withdrawal symptoms. You may still crave the drug or the feelings that you got from taking the drug. Continued professional support is recommended to help prevent relapse.

Why Should I Detox?

Detoxing under the care of addiction specialists is the safest way to get free from barbiturate addiction. If you try to quit using barbiturates at home cold turkey, you are putting yourself in danger. When you stop taking barbiturates abruptly it can cause severe withdrawal symptoms, and in some cases even death.

Detoxing your body from the toxins associated with barbiturates is important. However, this is best done in a medical detox facility, such as a residential treatment center.

What Is the Next Treatment Step?

When you are ready to get free from an addiction to barbiturates, going through detox is the first step. When you enter a treatment program, an assessment will be completed to get a picture of where you are at regarding the level of addiction. You will also undergo a psychological assessment to see if perhaps you are struggling with a mental health condition like depression or anxiety.

Once you are through the brunt of the detox stage, the next step is to commit to further treatment at an addiction treatment center.  Stopping barbiturate use is terrific, but it is likely you will need continued treatment to tend to any underlying issues that could have caused the addiction.

You will also benefit from learning more about the disease of addiction and recovery. Making a longer-term commitment to treatment can increase your chances of continued success in every area of your life.

Residential and Outpatient Treatment

Drug treatment programs tend to fall into a couple of categories. There is residential (inpatient) rehab, and there is outpatient. Both provide you an excellent level of care that can help you get free from barbiturate addiction, with each one having distinct benefits.

Residential Treatment

Residential treatment is geared more for those who have moderate to severe addictions.  They’re more intensive and require you to pack up and live at the facility for the duration of treatment, typically ranging from 28 days to six months.  These types of rehabs may be more expensive, but they also have a higher success rate. Benefits include being able to focus on your recovery without outside distractions, having access to medical care 24/7, and having a structured atmosphere to recover in.

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient treatment works well for those with a mild addiction or those who cannot reside at the rehab due to family or work responsibilities. You will attend treatment sessions during the week, usually amounting to about 10 or 12 hours. You will receive much of the same type of care as in residential rehab.

Both types of treatment provide you with access to a counselor, addiction specialists, a physician, and peers that are also recovering from addiction.

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