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Barbiturate Detox

Barbiturate withdrawal can be dangerous if it is not closely monitored or regulated by health professionals. Medically-supervised detox provides a safe and successful treatment plan for those struggling with Barbiturate addiction.

What Is Barbiturate Detox?

Barbiturate detox is the first step in overcoming a Barbiturate addiction. Detox safely purges the drug and eliminates any harmful chemicals to restore the body to a state prior to substance abuse. Detox is most effective when performed under the supervision of health professionals, as medical detox programs can help manage the debilitating symptoms of withdrawal. Medical detox takes into account the type of Barbiturate an individual is dependent on, how long an individual has misused the drug, and the level of drug dependency an individual is exhibiting.

Barbiturates, or “downers,” are central nervous system depressants that were once frequently prescribed to treat conditions such as insomnia and anxiety. Today, they are not very commonly used because safer medications such as Benzodiazepines have mostly replaced them. However, Barbiturates are still occasionally prescribed, as they are effective sedatives, hypnotics, anesthetics and anticonvulsants. Barbiturates work by affecting GABA receptors and neurotransmitters within the brain, effectively slowing down central nervous system activity. When used irresponsibly for recreational purposes, they can cause a multitude of health problems including blood-related complications, liver disease, and seizures. While this drug class does have some medical benefits, Barbiturates are extremely addictive and can easily lead to physical dependence.

Most Barbiturate detox regimens operate under the tapering-off method, in which the recovering user’s dosage of Barbiturates is gradually tapered down over the course of a few weeks until use stops completely. This reduces an individual’s physical dependence on the drug and lessens the severity of withdrawal. Barbiturate withdrawal is incredibly painful and often requires medical assistance in order to remain safe.

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Barbiturate Withdrawal

When someone is dependent upon Barbiturates, they may experience withdrawal symptoms when they are undergoing detox or suddenly stop using them. Withdrawal is a group of symptoms that can be physically uncomfortable, psychologically taxing, and, in some cases, life-threatening. Some of the most common symptoms of Barbiturate withdrawal include:

  • Agitation
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea
  • Insomnia
  • Raised body temperature
  • Hallucinations
  • Fatigue
  • Shakiness
  • Tremors
  • Deliriums
  • Changes in behavior
  • Aggression
  • Seizures

The focus during Barbiturate detox is to manage these withdrawal symptoms, especially those that can be life-threatening such as seizures, so that the recovering user may successfully proceed to the next stage of addiction treatment. During the withdrawal period, doctors may prescribe medications that can lessen the debilitating effects of withdrawal, such as sleep aids for insomnia and gastrological medicines for nausea and vomiting. Regardless of the specific circumstances, it is never recommended for someone to try to withdraw from Barbiturates on their own or without medical care due to the severity of the symptoms that can occur.

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Withdrawal Timeline

The specific Barbiturate withdrawal timeline and duration of symptoms can vary depending on a variety of factors. For example, the age and health of the person, how long they’ve used Barbiturates, and the amount that they have been using can all affect the duration of withdrawal.

In general, some of the most intense symptoms are experienced during the first 72 hours after cessation of use, but the timeline can be different based on the type of Barbiturate abused. For shorter-acting Barbiturates, symptoms typically peak within 2-4 days and last about 4-7 days. For longer-acting Barbiturates, symptoms will peak in about 4-7 days and last about 7-14 days or longer.

Barbiturate Withdrawal Timeline
Days 1-3 This is when the first symptoms of withdrawal begin to appear and are the most severe. During the first 24-48 hours, former users begin to experience severe vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, and excessive sweating. The signs are most intense during the first 72 hours after cessation, and it is during this time that people are most at-risk for serious medical complications. 
Days 4-10 Throughout the first week people usually have a hard time sleeping and will suffer from insomnia, but withdrawal symptoms will typically begin to lessen around the 7-day mark. As the body continues to try to adjust without Barbiturates, recovering users will experience shaking, lingering muscle aches, nausea, abdominal cramping, and sweating.
Days 11-17 Towards the end of the second week, most physical symptoms have subsided, but psychological symptoms such as anxiety can persist and panic attacks can begin to appear. Additionally, extreme fatigue and depression are common during this period.
Days 18+ The worst of withdrawal symptoms are typically over at this point. Any remaining symptoms will continue to fade over time. However, for some, the psychological symptoms such as depression and anxiety may continue for up to several weeks or months before they subside.

Barbiturate Detox Programs

Detox from Barbiturate use is available through both inpatient and outpatient services. While outpatient detox allows recovering users to continue their daily routines, inpatient detox provides a safe place to rest and recuperate while detoxing under the constant supervision of medical professionals.

Inpatient Detox

In most cases, inpatient detox is recommended in order to help patients avoid relapse and make sure that they have medical care in the event of an emergency. The majority of detox options are inpatient and are typically conducted within an inpatient rehabilitation facility or hospital. In addition to detoxification, inpatient programs often include other treatment services, such as therapy, medical care and support group meetings.

Outpatient Detox

Although it is rare that this is recommended, outpatient detox may be a good choice for people with a relatively mild Barbiturate dependence. Recovering users are provided with regular medical check-ins and prescription medications, however, they only visit the outpatient facility on certain days of the week. In instances where money is an issue or the patient has familial obligations, coming into an outpatient detox program can provide adequate treatment.

Seeking Barbiturate Detox Treatment

If you or a loved one are addicted to Barbiturate medications, detox is a necessary first step before undergoing treatment. In addition to helping users safely stop using the drug, many detox centers also provide mental health and polysubstance abuse services. When searching for a Barbiturate detox center, it should offer comprehensive medical care, professional support, and the capacity to move patients directly into further addiction treatment. Contact a dedicated treatment provider today for more information about treatment and rehab.

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Jena Hilliard

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  • Jena Hilliard earned her Bachelor’s of Arts degree from the University of Central Florida in English Literature and received a minor in Cultural Anthropology. She has always had a passion for literature and the written word. Upon graduation, Jena found her purpose in educating the public on addiction and helping those that struggle with substance dependency find the best treatment options available. In her spare time, Jena enjoys frequenting coffee shops and discovering new places she’d like to travel.

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David Hampton

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  • All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by David Hampton, a certified addiction professional.

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