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Luminal Withdrawal

Luminal is truly an enigma. It exhibits great utility in its ability to treat an array of health conditions. In the past century, this barbiturate was prescribed to treat seizures, insomnia, and epilepsy, among other ailments. In fact, it remains one of the oldest anti-seizure medications in existence. 

Yet, it has gained infamy throughout history as a euthanasia drug. In 1940, Nazi doctors once employed Luminal to conduct the appalling murders of children with intellectual disabilities. What’s more, 39 members of a UFO religious cult committed mass suicide in 1997 by consuming it with applesauce before washing it all down with vodka.

Another startling use of Luminal is as a recreational drug because of its sedative and euphoric effects. When abused, this barbiturate not only inflicts permanent injury, but it can also cause death. The withdrawal symptoms that come from Luminal are also life-threatening, capable of producing a multitude of effects on the body.

For people attempting to quit Luminal, the safest and most effective solution is treatment provided by a professional recovery program. In this setting, people struggling with an addiction can undergo a medically supervised detox where those dangerous withdrawal symptoms are treated and alleviated.   

How Does Luminal Work?

Luminal is the brand name for phenobarbital, a barbiturate that is designated as an anticonvulsant hypnotic. Luminal is prescribed for seizure disorders. Additionally, it is used to treat patients who experience insomnia, anxiety, and fear. Luminal is also used to sedate patients before surgery. It is also employed in addiction treatment for people undergoing benzodiazepine and alcohol abuse.

Luminal comes as a tablet, capsule, or elixir, and it can also be injected into the muscle. As a central nervous system (CNS) depressant, Luminal works by slowing down the brain and nervous system. It accomplishes this effect by activating the gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) chemical in the brain to produce feelings of calm.

With a half-life of two to seven days, it is one of the longest-acting barbiturates.

The History of Luminal

German chemists synthesized the first barbiturate in 1903. Phenobarbital and several related medicines were synthesized soon after.

It was not until 1912 that Bayer brought phenobarbital to the market under the brand name Luminal.

Since its introduction, Luminal was commonly prescribed sedative and hypnotic until benzodiazepines arrived in the 1960s.

It was also used to prescribed for epilepsy, and for a while, Luminal was used to treat neonatal jaundice before phototherapy replaced it. 

frustrated man next to alarm clock

Luminal Side Effects

Chronic use of Luminal is highly dangerous. Not only will it cause the brain to stop producing GABA, but it can also cause users to experience a “crash” and exhibit rebound symptoms. As with other barbiturates, Luminal can cause the following effects in a user:

 

  • Confusion
  • Cloudy thinking
  • Shallow breathing
  • Slurred speech
  • Physical coordination problems, such as clumsiness
  • Intoxication (similar to that of alcohol)
  • Memory loss
  • Poor judgment
  • Mood swings
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Agitation
  • Motor control problems
  • Reduced emotional reactions
  • Impotence in men

 

Luminal Withdrawal Symptoms

Barbiturates like Luminal are also dangerous in withdrawal. They join alcohol and benzodiazepines as substances that produce the kind of withdrawal symptoms that are classified as life-threatening.

Recreational users of Luminal will have a difficult time quitting because the drug produces such powerful, sedative effects. When they do stop, the symptoms of withdrawal are deleterious in and of themselves.

Typical symptoms of Luminal withdrawal include:

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Restlessness
  • Hallucinations
  • Heart failure
  • Death
  • Tremors
  • Irritability
  • Stomach cramps
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • High temperature
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures

Timeline of Luminal Withdrawal

When Luminal use stops, the withdrawal symptoms that arrive occur in two stages, minor and major.

8 to 12 hours: Luminal withdrawal symptoms occur about eight to 12 hours after the last dose. The minor symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Low blood pressure
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Muscle twitching
  • Hand tremors
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea
  • Distorted vision
  • Vomiting

16 hours to 5 days: Major Luminal withdrawal symptoms start at about 16 hours after the last dose and lasts for about five days. These effects include:

  • Convulsions
  • Delirium

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Why Professional Treatment Matters

Attempting to quit a barbiturate such as Luminal can be hazardous if not futile. Withdrawal symptoms are disconcerting enough to spur relapse, which can intensify addiction and invite health complications and even death. 

What’s more, barbiturate withdrawal is enduring, so much so that the mental and emotional symptoms can last for months or years. A medically supervised, clinician-guided treatment process can help an addicted person achieve sobriety and regain their health.

In addition to avoiding relapse, an addicted person can avoid the snare of imminent overdose. 

Barbiturate overdose can produce permanent brain and organ damage and death as well.

The overdose effects of Luminal include:

  • Drop in body temperature
  • Drowsiness
  • Uncontrollable movements of the eyes
  • Changes in pupil
  • Rapid breathing
  • Slowed breathing
  • Blisters
  • Loss of coordination
  • Cold, clammy skin

When Luminal overdose causes breathing to slow, it can suffocate the user, which can produce coma, brain damage, and death.

How Professional Treatment Helps

The most crucial aspect of a professional recovery program is acute treatment, the first stage of the process. With acute treatment, a client can receive a  medically supervised detoxification where the Luminal and other toxins are removed from the body, and those dangerous withdrawal symptoms are alleviated, which greatly minimizes the risk of permanent damage or death.

The next treatment step after acute treatment is clinical stabilization, which offers an array of treatment options designed to help you get to the root of your addiction. The services offered primarily consist of therapy and counseling

The abundance of services offered during clinical stabilization include:

Holistic treatments

  • Acupuncture/acupressure
  • Massage
  • Meditation
  • Nutritional assessments
  • Reiki
  • Yoga

Group therapy

  • Emotional regulation
  • Medical education
  • Motivational enhancement
  • Relapse prevention
  • The 12 steps of recovery
  • Wellness skills

Individual therapy

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) skills
  • Genetic testing
  • Family-focused therapy
  • Trauma-informed sessions

Additional counseling and therapy on a part-time basis are available in outpatient care, which can come after you have undergone clinical stabilization. 

Once treatment is completed, a caseworker can connect you to a recovery community that can offer long-term support and provides a hedge against relapse.

Sources

Luminal Oral: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, Pictures, Warnings & Dosing. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-57128/luminal-oral/details

Ocean Breeze Recovery. (2019, February 14). Luminal Withdrawal. Retrieved from https://oceanbreezerecovery.org/barbiturates/luminal/withdrawal/

Phenobarbital: MedlinePlus Drug Information. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682007.html

Serenity at Summit. (2019, March 07). Luminal Addiction. Retrieved from https://www.serenityatsummit.com/luminal/

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