Barbiturate Abuse, Addiction, And Treatment Programs

Barbiturates are highly addictive drugs that can have dangerous side effects, including overdose, when misused. Barbiturate addiction is treated through drug detox, behavioral therapy, and inpatient rehab.

Barbiturate Abuse, Addiction, And Treatment Options

Barbiturates are a class of drugs known as sedative-hypnotics that are prescribed on a short-term basis to treat insomnia and anxiety.

Barbiturates were widely prescribed during the early to mid-20th century, but have largely been replaced by benzodiazepines and other sleep aids that have less severe side effects. They are still used in medical settings during surgical procedures and to treat seizure disorders.

They are also known to be highly addictive and carry a high risk for overdose when taken in any way other than prescribed.

Here, you’ll find information about barbiturate abuse, types of treatment programs for barbiturate addiction, and an overview of our New England addiction treatment center.

Types Of Barbiturate Prescription Drugs

Barbiturates are depressant drugs that work in the body by slowing down central nervous system activity. This can relieve anxiety, tension, and cause sleepiness.

The most common barbiturates include:

  • amobarbital (Amytal)
  • butabarbital (Butisol)
  • phenobarbital (Luminal)
  • mephobarbital (Mebaral)
  • pentobarbital (Nembutal)
  • secobarbital (Seconal)

Professional addiction treatment is highly recommended for people who misuse or have become addicted to barbiturates.

At Spring Hill Recovery Center, we understand how difficult it can be to seek help. We also know that recovering from drug addiction is possible.

Barbiturate Abuse And Addiction

Barbiturates are depressant drugs that can be acquired through a prescription, or bought illegally online or through a drug dealer.

They can come in the form of a pill, liquid, or tablet. Different types of barbiturates differ in their strength and how long their effects last.

Barbiturate abuse refers to taking barbiturates in any way other than prescribed. This can mean taking higher doses, taking doses more frequently, stealing from someone else’s prescription, or taking them for reasons other than prescribed.

  • barbs
  • downers
  • goof balls
  • yellow jackets
  • reds and blues
  • pinks
  • blockbusters

Barbiturate addiction is a physical and psychological condition that can make it very hard to stop taking barbiturates alone. People who become addicted may rely on drugs to get through the day, and may become physically dependent on barbiturates.

Over time, the use of barbiturates can also cause long-term health consequences, such as impaired memory, suicidal thoughts, and frequent mood swings.

Signs Of Barbiturate Overdose

One of the biggest dangers of barbiturate use and misuse, especially when combining barbiturates with other drugs, is a high risk for drug overdose.

According to the National Library of Medicine, one in 10 overdoses involving barbiturates is fatal, usually as a result of complications with the heart or lungs.

The high risk for barbiturate intoxication is one of the main reasons these depressants are no longer prescribed as frequently as they once were.

Taking high doses of barbiturates or mixing them with other drugs of abuse—such as alcohol and opioids—can increase the risk for a life-threatening overdose. New users are also at high risk.

If someone you know is experiencing the following overdose symptoms, call 911 right away:

  • slow or shallow breathing
  • falling in and out of consciousness
  • sedation
  • poor judgment
  • lack of coordination
  • staggering
  • coma

Treatment For Barbiturate Abuse And Addiction

Prescription drug abuse and addiction can affect all areas of a person’s life. People who become addicted to barbiturates may struggle to hold a job, maintain relationships, and function as normal.

Barbiturate addiction is primarily treated through drug detoxification and inpatient treatment. At Spring Hill, we offer a range of treatment programs for barbiturate abuse and addiction, including access to detox, residential rehab, and intensive outpatient treatment.

Barbiturate Withdrawal And Detox

Abusing barbiturates can quickly lead to physical dependence. Drug dependence develops when your body becomes accustomed to the drug’s presence in your system. This can cause an adverse reaction—known as withdrawal—in any attempt to reduce your dose or stop taking the drug.

Quitting barbiturates all at once is strongly discouraged. This can risk dangerous and potentially life-threatening symptoms, including fever, seizures, and psychosis.

Barbiturate withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • anxiety
  • muscle twitching
  • tremors
  • nausea and vomiting
  • high body temperature
  • increased blood pressure and heart rate
  • insomnia
  • hallucinations
  • severe confusion

Barbiturate withdrawal is best treated through medically supervised detox. Medical detox programs can treat withdrawal symptoms and provide 24-hour supervision during the withdrawal process. This can allow healthcare professionals to monitor vital signs and symptoms for health concerns.

Inpatient Rehabilitation

Overcoming drug addiction requires more than just getting sober. Following detox, most substance abuse professionals recommend entering an inpatient treatment program.

Inpatient treatment—also known as residential rehab—offers a high level of structure and support for people in early addiction recovery.

At Spring Hill, we offer a residential rehab program for barbiturate addiction that helps individuals heal from the physical, mental, and emotional effects of living with addiction.

Within our residential rehab program, you’ll find:

  • around-the-clock care
  • customized programming
  • behavioral therapy
  • family counseling
  • group therapy
  • 12-step programs
  • medication management
  • mental health treatment
  • medical care
  • relapse prevention planning

Inpatient rehab can teach individuals skills and supportive strategies that can serve them well in recovery to prevent relapse and rebuild a healthier, addiction-free future. We offer both evidence-based and holistic treatments all within a comfortable, home-like environment.

Outpatient Treatment

A less intensive treatment option for substance abuse and mental health treatment is outpatient treatment. Outpatient treatment programs are most suitable for people who are medically stable and who can benefit from receiving ongoing support in recovery.

At Spring Hill, we offer an intensive outpatient program (IOP) for drug and alcohol addiction. This involves attending treatment at our rehab center for a few hours in the afternoon or evening, two to four days a week.

During this time, residents may attend individual and group counseling, family counseling, receive medication management services, and meet with a medical doctor or psychiatrist as needed.


Spring Hill primarily offers aftercare through our alumni recovery support program. After the fourth week of treatment, residents within our treatment programs are given access to a network of current and former patients.

This connects people in recovery to current and former patients for peer support, recovery support groups, and alumni events.

If residents who are leaving our treatment facility do not have a supportive home environment, our treatment staff may also help coordinate temporary housing in a nearby sober living home. Sober homes provide safe and supportive housing for people who are in addiction recovery.

Polysubstance Abuse Involving Barbiturates

Polysubstance abuse refers to mixing any combination of drugs or alcohol. Combining barbiturates with other substances of abuse can increase the risk for side effects, may heighten overdose risk, and increases risk for addiction and dependency on one or both drugs.

Mixing barbiturates with other depressants, such as alcohol, opioids, or benzodiazepines, can be especially dangerous. Since all of these drugs have depressant effects, including slowing breathing and heart rate, combining them can create dangerous drug interactions.

Some of the most common polydrug combinations involving barbiturates include:

  • Amytal and alcohol
  • Amytal and benzodiazepines
  • barbiturates and alcohol
  • butabarbital and alcohol
  • Mebaral and alcohol
  • Mebaral and opioids
  • Nembutal and alcohol
  • Nembutal and Xanax
  • phenobarbital and alcohol
  • phenobarbital and Ativan
  • phenobarbital and gabapentin
  • Seconal and alcohol
  • Seconal and Valium

Begin Your Addiction Recovery At Spring Hill

Millions of people in the United States seek substance abuse treatment each year. If you’re searching for barbiturate addiction treatment for yourself or a loved one in the Greater New England area, look no further than Spring Hill Recovery Center in Ashby, Massachusetts.

Located in northern central Massachusetts, Spring Hill is an accredited rehab center that treats substance abuse and addiction. We also offer dual diagnosis care for co-occurring disorders. Our primary treatment programs include residential rehab and intensive outpatient treatment.

Our Massachusetts treatment center serves all of the New England region, including surrounding states such as:

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Spring Hill has continued to help individuals safely stop their drug use and begin their journey towards addiction recovery.

By contacting us, we can answer any questions you have regarding accepted insurance, the types of treatment we offer, and our treatment philosophy.

Call us today to learn more about Spring Hill and our barbiturate abuse and addiction treatment programs.

Written by Spring Hill Editorial Team

Published on: October 26, 2020 | Edited on: March 11, 2023

©2023 Spring Hill Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

This page does not provide medical advice.

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