Barbiturate Toxicity StatPearls NCBI Bookshelf

Posted by

Long-term use can also cause sexual dysfunction, delayed reflexes, a short attention span, and memory loss. This decline is mainly due to the development of newer, safer drug alternatives. This website is using a security service to protect itself from online attacks.

What are the side effects of barbiturates?

Never combine barbiturates with other depressant medications, including alcohol, and call 911 immediately if you suspect an overdose. As a person uses barbiturates more, the difference between a dose that causes the desired effect and that of a fatal overdose becomes narrower. This makes overdoses more common in long-term use such as for more than 2 weeks.

Common Barbiturates available in the U.S.

Barbiturates are a class of drugs derived from barbituric acid that act as depressants to the central nervous system. These drugs are used as sedatives or anesthetics and have the potential to become addictive. They’re problematic because there is no good treatment antibiotics and alcohol to reverse a barbiturate overdose. When barbiturates are used in anesthesia, supervision by anesthetics and certified registered nurse anesthetists is necessary. Movement disorder specialists should oversee the use of primidone for essential tremors.

How Many Types of Insomnia Are There?

That can help you avoid problems related to barbiturate misuse, such as barbiturate addiction. The effects of intermediate-acting barbiturates, such as butabarbital sodium, last between 6 and 12 hours, and these are used to treat insomnia. Pentobarbital is an example of a short-acting barbiturate that is also used to help patients fall asleep.

Barbiturate Misuse Causes

Barbiturates approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for clinical use include phenobarbital, methohexital, butalbital, pentobarbital, primidone, and amobarbital. Individuals suffering from barbiturate overdose typically do well if they receive prompt medical treatment and are otherwise healthy. The patient outcome depends on the amount of barbiturate taken, the specific barbiturate used, other drugs that were ingested or injected, promptness of medical care, and comorbidities. Individuals with other significant health conditions, such as heart and pulmonary disease, may have a more complicated clinical course. For example, an individual with coronary artery atherosclerosis and/or cardiomegaly (an enlarged heart) will be already prone to suffering a myocardial infarction.

  1. Some symptoms of an overdose typically include sluggishness, incoordination, difficulty in thinking, slowness of speech, faulty judgement, drowsiness, shallow breathing, staggering, and, in severe cases, coma or death.
  2. Barbiturates also easily produce tolerance, meaning it takes more of the drug to produce the same effects.
  3. Barbituric acid itself does not have any direct effect on the central nervous system and chemists have derived over 2,500 compounds from it that possess pharmacologically active qualities.
  4. People who misuse barbiturates use them to obtain a “high,” which is described as being similar to alcohol intoxication, or to counteract the effects of stimulant drugs.
  5. Sally first developed an interest in medical communications when she took on the role of Journal Development Editor for BioMed Central (BMC), after having graduated with a degree in biomedical science from Greenwich University.

Some symptoms of an overdose typically include sluggishness, incoordination, difficulty in thinking, slowness of speech, faulty judgement, drowsiness, shallow breathing, staggering, and, in severe cases, coma or death. The lethal dosage of barbiturates varies greatly with tolerance and from one individual to another. The lethal dose is highly variable among different members of the class, with superpotent barbiturates such as pentobarbital being potentially fatal in considerably lower doses than the low-potency barbiturates such as butalbital. Even in inpatient settings, the development of tolerance is still a problem, as dangerous and unpleasant withdrawal symptoms can result when the drug is stopped after dependence has developed.

Respiratory depression or hypotension from a depressant drug (like a barbiturate) will further decrease the amount of oxygen reaching the heart. An individual with a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or another pulmonary disease will have an increased risk alcohol and the brain for complications since their respiratory drive is compromised with barbiturate toxicity. Barbiturate, any of a class of organic compounds used in medicine as sedatives (to produce a calming effect), as hypnotics (to produce sleep), or as an adjunct in anesthesia.

Those who died of a combination of barbiturates and other drugs include Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Dorothy Kilgallen, Malcolm Lowry, Edie Sedgwick and Kenneth Williams. Dorothy Dandridge died of either an overdose or an unrelated embolism. Ingeborg Bachmann may have died of the consequences of barbiturate withdrawal (she was hospitalized with burns, the doctors treating her not being aware of her barbiturate addiction). This can result in fatal overdoses from drugs such as codeine, tramadol, and carisoprodol, which become considerably more potent after being metabolized by CYP enzymes. If you notice withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking barbiturate medications, you should talk to your healthcare provider. Telling them about these symptoms means they can help reduce your dose until these symptoms stop.

The onset of action for oral administration ranges from 20 to 60 minutes, and intravenous administration can range from almost immediate to 5 minutes. High lipid-solubility in some (amobarbital, pentobarbital, and thiopental) allow them to be well absorbed and rapidly redistributed. Most are rapidly metabolized to inactive compounds before they are excreted in the urine. However, phenobarbital is only partially converted and can be found unchanged in the urine.

Barbiturates may also be used in a hospital setting for pre-operative sedation. Today, barbiturates are generally only used to treat extreme and serious cases of insomnia. They are also used to help alcohol and insomnia control seizures in epilepsy, as well as an adjunct to anesthesia in some cases. Your doctor may gradually lower your dose over a period of time to minimize dangerous withdrawal complications.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *