Last Updated on: 27th February 2024, 07:46 pm

Barbiturate Overdose: Symptoms, Treatment, and More

Table of Contents

Barbiturate Overdose: Symptoms, Treatment, and More | OC Revive

Barbiturate overdose is a common mishap that can lead to several issues, including death in extreme cases. It’s crucial to not use it without any prescription or medical needs. Want to learn more about its symptoms, overdose effects, treatments, and other things? Read further to learn about different aspects of barbiturates.

What is Barbiturate?

It is a sedative medication that includes pentobarbital, secobarbital, Phenobarbital, and butalbnital. Barbiturate has historically been used as sedating anesthetics and hypnotic (sleep-inducing agents). They are commonly used to manage several conditions, ranging from headaches to seizure disorders.

You can find them in the form of liquid solutions and tablets. The long-term effects of using barbiturates are unknown. But the short-term dangers of misuse of barbiturates may include disorientation, slowed breathing, fatigue, problems with memory and concentration, and slurred speech.

Barbiturate is also largely used for non-medical purposes without a prescription by a medical expert. If you are taking barbiturates non-medically, you have a great risk of getting an overdose, especially if you are using other drugs like central nervous system depressants with it.

How Do Barbiturates Work?

Barbiturate works by affecting nerve impulses in your central nervous system. It occurs due to the increased activity of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) after taking barbiturate drugs. Note that GABA is a form of brain chemical with sedative effects. Therefore, when GABA increases in your body, it causes a depressive and overwhelming impact on the brain. Therefore, it can also lead to intoxication.

Barbiturate Overdose: Symptoms, Treatment, and More | OC Revive

Usage of Barbiturate

Barbiturate is usually used for psychological and neurological treatments. Some common uses of barbiturates include:

Treat Anxiety

Barbiturate medications are taken in low doses to treat anxiety. They have therapeutic effects on tension and anxiety. This is because of the barbiturate’s soothing effects on your central nervous system.

Manage Epilepsy and Seizures

Barbiturates can treat epileptic disorders and seizures. And they have lower side effects for seizures.

Work as Pre-Anesthesia

Barbiturates, such as thiamylal and thiopental, are also used as anesthesia for some patients. They can make medical surgeries and other procedures easier for doctors.

Helps With Insomnia

It is a sleep disorder characterized by staying asleep or difficulty falling asleep. Barbiturate medications can help you control your nervous system, which eventually helps you sleep better and for longer.

Supports Euthanasia

Doctors recommend large doses of barbiturates for terminally people to help them die peacefully. These drugs are also used on pets to eliminate the suffering of animals when they are at the end of their lives.

Barbiturate Overdose: Symptoms, Treatment, and More | OC Revive

Signs and Symptoms of Barbiturate Overdose

Some of the common signs of barbiturate overdose are:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Shallow breathing
  • Clammy skin
  • Coma
  • Respiratory failure
  • Rapid and weak pulse

If you notice any of these symptoms, you need to consult a medical expert immediately for help.

Types of Barbiturate


It is a short-acting barbiturate that acts as a relaxant to help people with severe health conditions. This drug is also commonly known as downers and devils.


This drug is used to treat insomnia, anxiety, seizures, epilepsy and other disorders. Doctors also use them to suppress withdrawal symptoms to treat addiction.


It is used as a pre-anesthetic for surgery and treating insomnia. This drug is also used to help euthanasia in animals, especially dogs. Some common street names for these drugs are abbots and jackets.


This barbiturate was synthesized in 1923 to use as a sedative. But this drug is still used to induce sleepiness in people who have insomnia. These drugs are also known as blue velvet, blue heavens, and blue devils.

What Can Lead To Barbiturate Overdose

Barbiturate overdose can be due to several factors, such as:

  • Using a drug in great amounts or more than prescribed
  • Used for non-medical purposes
  • Mixing barbiturates with opioids, alcohol, or other drugs
  • Using the drug for longer periods than it’s needed

Moreover, environment, age, and mental and physical health can lead to the risk of overdose. Before taking it, discussing your pre-existing health conditions with the health expert is crucial.

Responding to an Overdose of Barbiturate

If you believe an individual has overdosed on barbiturates, you need to immediately consult an expert, especially if you notice breathing problems. Additionally, having medical professionals on the scene can reduce the risk of dying after an overdose.  

Inform the concerned authorities if a barbiturate is used along with opioids so that the medical experts can treat an individual the right way. They will choose the right treatment for the person to improve their chances of survival. The doctors might also give naloxone, a drug that helps the person reverse the effects and regain consciousness of an opioid overdose. However, naloxone can’t reverse the coma that occurred due to barbiturates.

Emergency Medical Treatments

Emergency medical experts will choose different types of treatments for an individual showing barbiturate overdose symptoms, such as:

  • Airway support
  • Blood tests
  • Heart monitoring
  • IV fluids
  • Activated charcoal administration

When a person is admitted due to a barbiturate overdose, during the testament, the health expert team will continuously monitor an individual’s breathing and try to maintain oxygen levels and healthy blood pressure.

Also, to help quit an addiction, avoiding opting for a detox procedure by yourself is important. You need to consult a health expert to help you withdraw barbiturates. Medically assisted detox can make the process less painful and several for people taking barbiturates for extended periods. The health experts provide you with a secure environment and help you undergo different procedures that last about a week. The entire process will focus on making you stable, sober, and prepared for life after the treatment.  

Here are the two most common treatment methods used for addiction treatment.

Inpatient Rehab

It is one of the most severe types of addiction treatment. In the case of inpatient rehab, patients need to live in the rehabilitation center and undergo treatment for several days. Some treatment methods used are:

  • Individual therapy
  • Medicated-assisted therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Dual-diagnoses treatment
  • Family therapy

Patients who participate in inpatient treatment live with other struggling people like them. This offers support and hopes to recover patients.

Outpatient Rehab

Outpatient Rehab provides the same inpatient treatments but with less intensity. Patients attending outpatient rehab live at home and undergo treatment procedures for a few hours for few times a week.

Need Help?

Barbiturates are among the most common drugs people misuse in our country. This is because of its unique effects on your nervous system and overall body. It’s important to keep barbiturate overdose can lead to deadly results, so you can avoid or help others to stay away from this doctor. But thankfully, if you get addicted to barbiturates, you can always ask for help. 

Reach out to us if you need help to recover from drug addiction and live a healthy life without depending on drugs. Call us at (844) 964-2770

Get Help Now

Admission Coordinators are available 24/7.
Take Control Of Your Life and Call Now.

Allyson Lake

Case Manager