In the quiet calm of our own peaceful homes, it’s easy to forget the real and viable threat of the illicit drug market. Just because addictions haven’t occurred in our family doesn’t mean that they can’t. The simple fact of the matter is that mistakes and bad choices happen, and we’re not always able to prevent them. To keep our loved ones safe, it’s crucial that we stay aware of the dangers that are out there. It all starts with taking the time to educate ourselves and our families about the reality of substance abuse. With knowledge of drugs and their life-altering effects, we are better equipped to identify and thus avoid temptation should it ever rear its ugly head.
Of the many illegal substances that turn up on the streets, none are so dangerous as those that started on the right path. More than a few different types of drugs originate from legal sources such as prescriptions before they’re misused, sold unlawfully, or tampered with to create designer drugs. The most important to know about is without a doubt the different types of barbiturates and their effects. As a highly addictive drug, it has an important place in medicine, but its dangerous chemical nature leads to frequent use and abuse outside of the usual legal applications.
History is rich with failed examples of medicines in the attempts to ease our physical suffering. Sedatives have always been important in treating physical pain and easing many mental illnesses. Barbiturates are surprisingly new to the field of medicine, appearing only a century ago in 1904. The original synthetic concoction was known as diethyl-barbituric acid, and it made huge waves at the time. Though it was a primitive application compared to the modern understanding of the drug and current treatment, it made major changes to how doctors approached and handled neurological ailments at the time.
Back then, treatment of psychological disorders was virtually non-existent. It’s easy to imagine the shock and awe of physicians at the time as they watched previously presumed untreatable patients began to show signs of change and even improved as a result of the new wonder drug. In time, doctors would recognize the real power behind the chemical and would use it with greater reserve. Today it’s still commonly used for pain management as well as anxiety, depression, and seizures.
As noted, barbiturates are well documented for their addictive properties. As such, doctors typically prescribe them only for extreme cases and rarely for an extended period. Furthermore, the amount of the chemical needed to be effective is impressively small compared to other drugs. The most common barbiturate, which is taken in pill form, is only fifteen to thirty milligrams. To put that number into perspective, the average dose of children’s liquid flu medicine is easily ten times the smallest barbiturate dose. It’s an extremely potent chemical, to say the least.
Prescribed dosages and medicine types differ primarily in effectiveness longevity. The average prescription pill is intended to last only an hour or two to allow the body time to fully process the chemical before the next dose. Even with all these precautions and close professional supervision, it’s alarmingly easy for patients to become hooked on the chemical. As such, it’s no surprise that barbiturate withdrawal treatment is just as studied as the drug itself. Anyone prescribed a form of barbiturates must be prepared for regular updates with their doctor and should closely follow the terms of the prescription. Even with these precautions, addiction can and does still occur based on elements out of the control of a patient such as general health, weight, natural tolerances, and other physical and genetic aspects.
As a depressant, barbiturates first and foremost have a calming effect. It’s so effective at rapidly putting the brain into a slowed state that it’s also used as a hypnotic in the treatment of insomnia. In medicine form, its effects are strong enough to predictably quell seizures. Most doses for these common treatments are rarely higher than 30mg. The highest dose given tends to be in anesthesia medication in preparation for an operation. At most, the dosage is a mere 300-500mg—less than half a teaspoon. A mere two grams is lethal and can kill within fifteen minutes. Its lethality is well understood, and barbiturates have been used for years as a euthanizing agent.
With all these terrifying and well-known facts about the dangers of barbiturates, it’s shocking to think people actively choose to use them in an unsupervised manner. All the same, people do, and their health suffers dramatically as a result. The different types of barbiturates and their effects are like many illegal drugs. The mildest symptoms include nausea, memory loss, and impaired coordination. Suicidal thoughts, mood swings, and paranoia are also common.
Long-term abuse most commonly impacts the liver, kidney, and lungs. The latter afflicted organ will often result in developing pneumonia or bronchitis or even a coma-inducing failure to breathe. It also damages the brain and will cause permanent memory loss over time. Finally, as with many dangerous narcotics, barbiturates also have a dangerous impact on the heart’s ability to function.
Anyone using barbiturates without a prescription is at significant risk of succumbing to addiction. It’s a very powerful and dangerous narcotic so it’s important to seek medical attention right away. Users of the drug, in most cases, will first be entered into immediate care at a hospital. The highly-trained staff at the facility will work hard to get the patient through the first steps of detox and withdrawal. Once they are stable, the patient will then be moved to an inpatient center. The purpose of an inpatient facility is to continue the work of the hospital staff in providing medical-oriented care through the rest of the withdrawal as well as to provide immediate therapy care.
Afterward, the patient is free to return home, but they are generally recommended to a local outpatient center. Chapman Rehab is an outpatient center in Orange County that specializes in providing teens with the assistance and care they need to successfully overcome addiction. Outpatient centers pick up where inpatient centers leave off by providing visitors with continued therapy, support groups, and access to expert staff members. We understand how hard addiction is for everyone in the family. Reach out to us today and ask about our care options.