Sedatives and Barbiturates

By Danielle Fiebke

Colloquial names for Sedatives and Barbiturates

Some colloquial names for sedatives and barbiturates include: Barbs, downers and rainbows

Overview of Sedatives and Barbiturates

Sedatives and barbiturates act on the nervous system, but instead of speeding it up, sedatives slow it down. Most drugs, including those that are highly addictive; are frequently abused and dangerous and were first used and developed for medicinal and scientific purposed. Most of the time, these drugs come in brightly colored pills, tablets and capsules. Sedatives and barbiturates are both not natural drugs, meaning they are made up of different chemical compounds made in labs. More than 2,500 different types of barbiturates have been created but only a dozen types are used today.

How are sedatives and barbiturates used in medicine? How do they interact with other medication or substances? How is the drug/substance administered?

When sedatives and barbiturates are prescribed by a doctor and used as directed, they can be safe. These can be legally obtained with a doctor's prescription. In high doses, barbiturates can be used for anesthesia, however in most cases, barbiturates are prescribed in lower doses to people who have trouble sleeping. Barbiturates can be swallowed or injected and this is how the drug is able to get into the body. The more barbiturates a person takes, the higher of a risk that they may ingest an amount that can cause an overdose. If other depressant drugs are take with barbiturates/sedatives, such as alcohol, the risk of overdose increases. You should never mix other depressants with barbiturates or sedatives because this will slow down the body's functions to a deadly amount.

What are the physical (body) and psychological (mind-brain) effect? How long is neurotransmission affected? What are the SHORT term effects of the use? What are the LONG term effects of use?

Sedatives slow down your reaction and make you feel drowsy. When users regain consciousness, they often have no clear memory or what is happening and little awareness. Many rapists use sedatives on rape victims because when the victim wakes up, they will have no clear memory of what happened. However, barbiturates can safely be taken for short periods of time, if not taken with other drugs. For people taking the drug for the first time, the symptoms of sedation are similar to the ones of alcohol and include slurred speech, loss of motor control and impaired judgement. However, for people taking the drug for over a week, the side effects include nervousness, uncontrolled crying, unusual tiredness and many more.
Julie and the Deathly Surgeon (Original)

How long do the effects last? (Short term/long term effects?)

Barbiturates and sedatives have short and long term effects. Ultra short acting barbiturates produce anesthesia within one minute after injection. These will last as long as how much you injected in your body. Short-acting and intermediate-acting barbiturates take effect with 15-40 minutes and can last up to six hours. Long-acting barbiturates take effect in an hour and last up to 12 hours.

What is the tolerance/withdrawal/overdose of the substance?

Barbiturate users develop a tolerance for the drug very quickly, usually within two weeks. Barbiturates are extremely addictive and addiction occurs just as quickly as tolerance develops. It is very dangerous for a person to try to stop using barbiturates because of the effects it has on the central nervous system, such as as helping someone fall asleep. It can only be done so under close medical supervision. If other depressant drugs are taken with barbiturates, the risk of overdose increases.
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Depressants mixed with sedatives can be deadly

What are the laws or social concerns about this drug?

One of the biggest social concerns about this drug is how many rapers will use this drug on rape victims. This is because the victim will have no clear memory of the assault. Victims regain consciousness with a vague sense of awareness that they were assaulted and no clear memory of what happened. This makes it harder for the victim to identify the attacker. Sedatives are also metabolized by the body quickly, making it harder to detect when they were used.

What support systems exist for those addicted to this substance?

Because of many high-profile deaths caused by sleeping, the advantages of an inpatient treatment center are better than ever and there are treatment centers across the country specifically to treat those addicted to sedatives. There is also inpatient rehab that treats those who are addicted to sedatives. Inpatient rehab removes people from an environment where sleeping pills are readily available. It can also help those with a mental disorder, such as depression, which could have caused the addiction in the first place. Those with a mental disorder are more likely to relapse if their disorder is not treated. A typical stay at an inpatient rehab center can last 28-90 days and many of the patients will have chores, free time and group meetings to help cure them.

How can relapse of this substance be prevented?

To prevent relapse of sedatives and barbiturates, you can:

  • Exercise regularly- it is a stress reducer and stress is a cause of restlessness. Even moderate activities such as walking help people fall asleep at night
  • Go to bed at the same time- body's circadian rhythm becomes unbalanced when bedtimes are unplanned and inconsistent
  • Target underlying causes- Insomnia is a common cause of anxiety and depression, causing it to be harder to fall asleep at night

Substance Abuse: Barbiturates Made Simple