Barbiturates are drugs that act to depress the central nervous system in some way. Because of this, they are able to produce a wide array of different effects on the human body. Some may just cause a mild level of sedation, while others can create complete anesthesia. They have also been known to have hypnotic, analgesic, and even anticonvulsant effects. They are rarely used for medicinal purposes today, however, because there is a great dangers of overdose. Migraines, cluster headaches, and epilepsy are the primary therapeutic uses.
Statistics About Barbiturates
1. Barbiturates caused 396 deaths last year, some due to the drug alone, and some in connection with other drugs, suicide, accidents, or mental illness.
2. 9% of high school students surveyed have taken barbiturates in a recreational way at least once in their lives.
3. Phenobarbital led to 1,493 visits to emergency departments last year, despite being rarely prescribed.
4. In 2001, 2.8% of high school seniors reported use of barbiturates.
5. The accuracy of an FDA approved barbiturate test is as high as 95% and it can detect the presence of the drugs for at least 7 days.
6. The effects of some of the long-acting barbiturates may last up to 2 days.
7. Barbiturates can be injected into the veins or muscles, but they are usually taken in pill form.
8. High school surveys suggest abuse has been rising over last 10 years even though numbers are still lower than in the 1970s.
9. Barbiturates are Schedule II, III, and IV depressants under the Controlled Substances Act.
10. Barbiturates may be a factor in up to 33% of all drug-related deaths that are tracked in any given year.
11. In the United States, about 300 tons of barbiturates are legally produced every year.
12. It is estimated that 1 in 3 American households has at least one bottle of barbiturates in their medicine cabinet at any given time.
13. Despite their dangers, 19 million prescriptions are written out for barbiturates every year.
14. Between 2003 and 2007, just 5 out of the 12 barbiturates under international regulation accounted for 98.7% of global production.
15. Phenobarbital is produced in the largest quantity, responsible for 78% of total barbiturate production.
16. The percentage of illegal barbiturates that are produced in the United States annually: 8%.
17. Fatal overdose from barbiturates is more common when combined with other depressants like alcohol, tranquilizers or heroin.
18. From 1983 to 1999 it was found that there were around 146 fatal overdoses per million prescriptions of barbiturates.
19. 42% of American deaths that are associated with barbiturates are classified as suicides.
20. More women than men receive prescriptions for barbiturates as they are statistically more likely to seek help for insomnia, anxiety and depression.
21. Barbiturates are more commonly prescribed to older rather than younger adults.
Why Should You Be Concerned With Barbiturates
It’s the non-therapeutic uses of barbiturates that has many people concerned. When used for recreational purposes, these drugs create feelings of happiness and contentment – sometimes bordering on even euphoria. With repeated use, almost everyone develops both a physical and a psychological dependence on these drugs. Pills can begin acting in as little as 15 minutes and their affects may last for as long as 6 hours.
Once dependence has been formed to the drug, it can take several months of rehabilitation to overcome the addiction. Some addicts may cope with withdrawal symptoms for several years. This was evident at the end of World War II as returning soldiers, coming home from combat, where giving drugs to help combat the high heat and humidity of their war theater. The goal was to maintain their blood pressure, but the result was drug addiction problems that lasted well through the 1960’s for several soldiers.
By knowing about the statistics of barbiturates, the information about its therapeutic and addictive nature can really be know. This allows people to make their own decisions regarding this sometimes useful, but sometimes harmful series of drugs.
Abuse and Overdose
As with any drug, when barbiturates are used in a way that is appropriate, they can have a very beneficial effect on the human body. When they are abused for recreational purposes or someone needs a prolonged therapy that involves these drugs, however, the affects of withdrawal can become immediate when the drug is missing.
Those who have overdosed on barbiturates often appear to be drunk. They have uncoordinated movements, slurred speech, and a difficult time remembering events that just occurred. Those who are addicted to barbiturates may appear to be tired all of the time, fall over a lot, or seem twitchy and paranoid while they are awake. Insomnia may be a factor as well.
Because of the physical dependence that barbiturates cause, it can be deadly to stop taking this drug cold turkey. Many people need to slowly step down the dosages that are being received so that the body can begin to detoxify itself in a natural way. If withdrawal symptoms are left untreated, kidney and heart failure are common side effects. Withdrawal symptoms can begin to occur as soon as 16 hours after the last done of the drug. Even when treated, a complete withdrawal may take up to 2 weeks to fully take effect.
Barbiturates are serious drugs, but unfortunately we don’t take them very seriously. They’re often prescribed for sleeping disorders, yet one of the main side effects of taking too many of them is a lack of sleep. This creates a negative cycle that can be extremely difficult to break and often leads to addiction. Doctors are prescribing fewer barbiturates today, but millions of scripts are being filled still and the illicit market produces almost 600 million tons of the drug annually. With numbers like that and the euphoria that the drug can cause, it is important to keep the side effects and warning signs of addiction in mind.
By knowing these statistics, it becomes possible to successfully intervene and help someone with their addiction. If given enough time and with proper treatment, it is possible to defeat an addiction to barbiturates.