Addiction to Barbiturates

Q: What are barbiturates?
A: Barbiturates are a group of drugs that are used by doctors to treat patients suffering from anxiety or who are having trouble sleeping.
Some examples of barbiturates are Seconal®, Nembutal®, Amytal® and Tuinal®. Street names for barbiturates include “reds”, “red devils”, “yellow jackets”, “blue heavens”, “Christmas trees” and “rainbows”.
Q: So what is the difference between a tranquilizer/sleeping pill and a barbiturate?
A: The main difference lies in their chemical structure. In general, tranquilizers and barbiturates have similar effects, but barbiturates are stronger. Barbiturates are prescribed less often now that doctors have a greater number of tranquilizers and sleeping pills to choose from.
Q: What do barbiturates do to the body?
A: Like tranquilizers and sleeping pills, barbiturates are “downers.” They work by reducing the amount of activity in the brain and central nervous system. This produces a feeling of calm in people who take them.
Q: What are the dangers of barbiturates?
A: Because they are stronger than tranquilizers and sleeping pills, barbiturates are more dangerous when abused. People develop dependence on barbiturates faster than on tranquilizers. This leads them to take more in order to get the same effect as they used to get with smaller amounts.
These larger doses are particularly dangerous because very high doses can be deadly.
Q: Is it dangerous to take other drugs with barbiturates?
A: Remember that mixing two kinds of any drug is always risky. With barbiturates, a big danger comes when they are taken with alcohol. The danger comes from the fact that both alcohol and barbiturates have similar effects on the body. Both reduce the amount of activity in the central nervous system. If someone combines alcohol and barbiturates, the amount of activity in their nervous system will be greatly reduced. This can lead to death.
Some heroin addicts mix barbiturates and heroin. Like alcohol and barbiturates, heroin reduces activity in the central nervous system. Taking two drugs that reduce this activity can be fatal.
Q: What does taking barbiturates over a period of months or years do to a person?
A: Over time, regular use of barbiturates can cause liver damage and blood problems.
Q: Do barbiturates have any other effects?
A: Yes, barbiturates can also affect memory and judgment. They can also create depression, anger, mood swings and fatigue.
Q: Are barbiturates addictive?
A: People do become dependent on barbiturates. This means that they begin to “need” the effects barbiturates produce. If they stop taking them suddenly, people who are dependent on barbiturates can experience sleeping problems, restlessness, irritability and even death.

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