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Barbiturates


Barbiturates are depressants that produce a wide spectrum of central nervous system depression from mild sedation to coma. They also have been used as sedatives, hypnotics, anesthetics, and anticonvulsants.

Barbiturates are classified as:

  • Ultrashort, Short, Intermediate, Long-acting

Origin

Barbiturates were first introduced for medical use in the 1900s, and today about 12 substances are in medical use.

Street names

  • Barbs, Block Busters, Christmas Trees, Goof Balls, Pinks, Red Devils, Reds & Blues, and Yellow Jackets

Appearance

Barbiturates come in a variety of multicolored pills and tablets. Users prefer the short-acting and intermediate barbiturates such as Amytal and Seconal.

Methods of abuse

Barbiturates are abused by swallowing a pill or injecting a liquid form. Barbiturates are generally abused to reduce anxiety, decrease inhibitions, and treat unwanted effects of illicit drugs. Barbiturates can be extremely dangerous because overdoses can occur easily and lead to death.

Mental effects

  • Mild euphoria, lack of inhibition, relief of anxiety, and sleepiness

Higher doses cause:

  • Impairment of memory, judgment, and coordination; irritability; and paranoid and suicidal ideation

Tolerance develops quickly and larger doses are then needed to produce the same effect, increasing the danger of an overdose.

Physical effects

Barbiturates slow down the central nervous system and cause sleepiness.

Overdose effects

  • Shallow respiration, clammy skin, dilated pupils, weak and rapid pulse, coma, and possible death

Drugs with similar effects

  • Alcohol, benzodiazepines like Valium and Xanax, tranquilizers, sleeping pills, Rohypnol, and GHB

Legal status in the United States

Barbiturates are Schedule II, III, and IV depressants under the Controlled Substances Act.

Source: DEA Drug Fact Sheet - Barbiturates
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