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Amytal is one of the few Barbiturates still used today. Due to its addictive nature, it is only administered by doctors for short term treatment.

What Is Amytal?

Amytal Sodium is a type of Barbiturate. The brand name for Amobarital, doctors prescribe the medication as a sedative, an anti-anxiety medication, or a preanesthetic before surgery. Developed before Benzodiazepines, Barbiturates were once the most popular sedative on the market. However, once Benzos provided a safer alternative to sedatives, Barbiturates fell from popularity. Today, Amytal is one of the few Barbiturates that are still prescribed.

Amytal Sodium is typically found as an odorless, white powder, but it also comes in tablet or pill form. Doctors will administer it intravenously in by dissolving the salt in a liquid. Only doctors and other licensed medical practitioners can administer the drug, so it isn’t prescribed to be taken home. Because of this, someone who has it in their possession most likely obtained it illegally.

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Effects of Amytal

As a central nervous system depressant, Amytal is used as a sedative for people who need to sleep or calm down. Though it isn’t as popular as more modern sedatives, like Ambien or Xanax, it’s still implemented in appropriate cases. It’s primarily administered in shot form by a doctor rather than prescribed in pill form like other modern sedatives.

Like many other Barbiturates, there are some adverse side effects to Amytal use, such as:

  • Allergic reaction
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Trouble breathing
  • Very bad irritation around point of entry
  • Potential tissue damage
  • Sleepiness
  • Confusion
  • Nervousness
  • Insomnia
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea and Vomiting

Amytal is a short-term solution, not only because of the addictive potential of it, but because it appears to lose its effectiveness in inducing sleep after two weeks of use. Additionally, there is a high risk of accidental overdose associated with Amytal. Doctors are more likely to prescribe popular Benzos, like Xanax, as a less-addictive sedative for patients to take home.

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Amytal Addiction

Amytal effects as a depressant makes it feel similar to the effects of alcohol. When people abuse the drug, it is often for this drunk feeling. Given that it can only be administered by a doctor, however, this means that the only way to abuse it is to procure it by illicit means.

People who abuse Amytal typically go about it in one of two ways. They will use it the same way as a doctor, dissolving the sodium in water then injecting it, or they can snort it in its powder form.


In 2013, Barbiturates were involved in 396 deaths.


10% of all people who overdose on Barbiturates die, usually from heart and lung problems.

Treatment for Amytal Addiction

Less addictive, less harmful Benzodiazepines have mostly replaced the use of Barbiturates. However, hospitals still use Amytal Sodium. Even when a doctor is overseeing its use in the short term, someone can become addicted. Sadly, addiction carries a stigma that makes it hard for those suffering to come forward. However, addiction is a biological reaction to the human body trying to adapt, not a sign of weakness.

If you, or someone you know, suffer from addiction to Amytal, don’t shy away from asking for help. For many, coming to terms with addiction is the hardest step towards sobriety. If you don’t know how to talk about addiction, reach out to a dedicated treatment provider. They’re standing by around the clock.

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