Prescription Barbiturates have been largely replaced by safer, less addictive medications, making Barbiturate use, abuse, and dependency relatively rare when compared to other addictions like Opiates or Alcohol. That can make it hard for people who use Barbiturates to both recognize that they have a problem, and to find the help they need to overcome their dependency. This is especially true for Barbiturate users who obtain their drugs on the street, or by taking Barbiturates from family members, friends, or even patients who have been prescribed these medications; not only do users need to admit they have a problem, but they might also need to face serious consequences for their drug-seeking behavior.
When you consider all the factors involved, it’s easy to see why Barbiturate dependency is such a complex and difficult disease. Like all forms of substance abuse, Barbiturate addiction impacts every single aspect of the users’ life— their relationships, career, physical health and mental wellness. Being dependent on drugs can be a truly frightening experience, and addiction to Barbiturates can be a vicious cycle – when users start to detox from these drugs, they often feel a flood of uncomfortable emotions such as anxiety, sadness, guilt and anger which drives them to seek relief by taking more drugs.
During the 1950s and 1960s Barbiturate abuse was rampant in the United States; it was a commonly-prescribed drug for everything from insomnia to anxiety and epilepsy. Unfortunately, this led to many overdose deaths, which prompted health officials to recognize that in most cases, the side effects of Barbiturates were far worse than the actual conditions they were being used to treat. Inn 1965 Barbiturates became subject to strict regulations under the Drug Abuse and Control Act, and by the mid 1970s. they had been largely replaced by drugs like diazepam (Valium) and benzodiazepines.
Even though prescriptions of Barbiturates have declined over the past few decades. approximately 2,500 different types of Barbiturates are still manufactured in the U.S., and about 19 million prescriptions for these drugs are dispensed annually. Experts believe that the vast majority of Barbiturates sold on the street come from legal sources and are obtained through fraudulent prescriptions, drug store robberies, and theft from patients. Women are prescribed Barbiturates more often than men, and this class of drugs is used to sedate elderly patients who suffer from dementia.
Illegal Barbiturates are often smuggled into the U.S. from countries like China, Russia, India, and Hungary, with China producing about 50 percent of the world supply of illegal Barbiturates. Just like with other drugs like heroin and cocaine, there’s a real risk that users who buy Barbiturates from drug dealers may not actually know the dose they’re taking, since the potency of illicit drugs can vary from one pill to the next. This variation in the potency of street Barbiturates has been linked to a number of overdose deaths, because taking even a bit too much of these drugs can lead to respiratory failure and death.
Like all forms of substance abuse, recognizing if you, or someone you care about, has a problem with Barbiturates can be challenging. One of the biggest “red flags” to look for is whether or not you spend a lot of time, and energy, thinking about your drugs – obsessing over when your next dose is, whether or not you can get another prescription from your doctor, or feeling like you need to take more drugs to get the effect you want are all signs of drug dependency. Buying drugs on the street, stealing them from clients or patients, or racking up debt to fund your Barbiturate addiction are also clear indicators that you need help.
Another indication that you’ve developed a dependency on Barbiturates is if you’ve started to mix Barbiturates with alcohol or other drugs. Some users manage to hide their drug abuse from medical professionals and family members by taking a cocktail of substances rather than increasing their dose of Barbiturates. While this strategy might help you conceal your dependency in the short term, it’s like playing Russian Roulette – your next dose could literally kill you.
Fortunately, recovery from Barbiturate dependency is possible – if you get professional help. You’ll need to start your recovery by detoxing, and that should only be done at a licenced detox facility under the close supervision of professional addictions specialists. Going “cold turkey” off of Barbiturates can be dangerous – it can cause seizures, hallucinations, nausea, delirium, and even death, which is why many users taper off, rather than suddenly quit, using these drugs. Detoxing can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks depending on how long you’ve been addicted for, what other substances you use, and your physical and mental health.
Detox is just one part of the recovery process – to actually overcome your addiction, you need a treatment program. During treatment, you’ll learn about the root cause of your addiction, how to prevent relapse, and ways you can enjoy a healthy, drug-free life.