Barbiturate Withdrawal

Have you lost control of barbituates? You are not alone. Here, we review how to get off barbituates safely and become drug-free for good. Read more about what to expect during barbiturate withdrawal here.

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Safe Barbiturate Withdrawal

Withdrawal from barbituates can be dangerous. Some people report dangerously high body temperature or hallucinations. Some people experience coma or death.

Here, we’ll described common safety protocols used to get people off barbituates. We’ll explain the process of withdrawal, talk about why it happens, and describe what you can expect as treatment. Finally, we invite your feedback and questions at the end. In fact, we try to respond to all real life situations with a personal response.

We know that quitting a drug(s) is huge. The process can raise a number of questions and doubts. But we’re here to make the process a little less scary.

So, ready to start a new phase of life?

Get rid of barbiturates for good.

Hundreds of thousands of people have done it before you.

You can, too.

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We all use Barbiturates Differently

People reach for barbiturates because they chase the “feel good” effects such as:

  • happiness
  • relaxation
  • mental and emotional numbness
  • tranquility

In the end, regular use of barbituates can bring negative consequences to your health, relationships, and career. Regardless of why you’re taking barbituates, losing control can lead you to life-threatening situations. So, when should you seek help?

Basically, you need to seek professional help any time you observe the following:

  1. You have become physically dependent on barbituates.
  2. You have tried to quit (and failed) in the past.
  3. You cannot imagine life without your drug of choice.

Medically supervised detox has helped countless people safely come down from barbiturates. But medical detox may not be the only service you need; rehab and addiction treatment can help you stay quit.

Call us for more on how medical treatments can help.

Understanding Barbiturate Withdrawal

Q: Why does withdrawal happen?
A: Withdrawal happens as a direct result of physical dependence on a drug.

When you take a psychoactive drug over a period of weeks or months, your body adapts to it. In fact, some functions of the brain and body “slow down” while others “speed up”. This is the body’s way of seeking balance; it wants to compensate for the chemical reactions that happen in the brain. Remove the drug…and those same processes (“slow down” and “speed up”) require time to balance out.

Barbiturates act as central nervous system depressants, slowing down brain functions. Barbiturates also trigger the release of dopamine in the brain’s reward system, which is what makes them so addictive. When you choose to abruptly quit your barbiturate use (instead of gradually decreasing daily doses), the stimulating effects on the reward system are no longer present. What happens next?

Physical dependence on barbiturates manifests as a set of symptoms when you quit. Most people face a range of cognitive and physical symptoms. Without a barbiturate present in your system, you can expect to experience:

  • anxiety
  • insomnia
  • slowed breathing

…and in some extreme cases, hallucinations or seizure.

Barbiturate withdrawal is a unique experience for each person. While some may go through it swiftly, others might experience more difficulties. What’s common is this: when you suddenly stop or drastically reduce your barbiturate intake, your body simply needs time to restore its balance.

Don’t let barbiturate withdrawal to stand in your way of living the life you deserve. Get barbiturate withdrawal help today. Call to get the confidential guidance you need.

How Intense is Barbiturate Withdrawal?

The duration and intensity of barbiturate withdrawal vary according to:

  1. Your tolerance levels.
  2. Your age and metabolism.
  3. The frequency and length of your barbiturate use.
  4. The type of barbiturate you (ab)used.
  5. The presence of another mental (co-occurring) illness.

As previously mentioned, withdrawal is a unique experience for each person. Some people experience more intensity and discomfort while others recover and stabilize more quickly. You may not experience all symptoms, but be prepared for a range of symptoms. Reported symptoms include:

  • agitation
  • hallucinations
  • high body temperature
  • insomnia
  • respiratory arrest
  • respiratory depression
  • seizures
  • shakiness
  • tremors
  • violent behavior

NOTE HERE: As coma or death are possible, ALWAYS SEEK MEDICAL HELP during barbituate withdrawal.

Barbiturate Withdrawal Timeline

Here is a list of common symptoms by week.

24-72 Hour Symptoms : During the first three days, barbiturate withdrawal symptoms are felt most intensively. During the first three days you may also experience seizures. At the initial start barbiturate withdrawal is accompanied by: increased heart rate, mood swings, insomnia, nausea, and vomiting. The first three days carry the highest risk and therefore require 24/7 medical monitoring and care.

Week 1 Symptoms: The difficulties continue after the few days in barbiturate withdrawal and linger for the whole week. Your pulse and heart rate may continue to race, you also might face insomnia, and withdrawal symptoms may make you irritable, and your mood may also change frequently. You may also experience psychosis. During the first week you’ll also deal with depression, and cravings for barbiturates may become stronger.

Week 2 Symptoms: Many of the same emotional symptoms will continue during this week. Depression and irritability may still bother you, and mood swings may be even more intense.During the second week you may still have difficulties sleeping. However, the risk of seizures and other severe reactions are behind.

Weeks 3-4 Symptoms: During the last two weeks insomnia will become less of a problem, although sleep may continue to be an issue to some degree for quite some time. Physical symptoms will begin to fade but may still be present, such as headaches and sensitivity. Mental and emotional symptoms may still be present, but overall your condition should begin to stabilize.

Barbiturate PAWS

Furthermore, some symptoms can last beyond the weeks of acute withdrawal. These more “protracted” symptoms can stick around for months or years after last use; they are called “Protracted Withdrawal Symptoms”, or PAWS.

PAWS occur because the brain’s ability to react to stress has been weakened due to chronic barbiturate use. Stressful situations arise in early recovery; PAWS produce even further distress to your body. These symptoms usually come and go as a wave with different intensity and severity. Frequent symptoms include:

  • impaired cognition
  • irritability
  • depressed mood
  • anxiety

All of the mentioned symptoms may lead you to relapse back to your old habits.

Furthermore, it can be difficult to distinguish between PAWS and underlying mental health issues. The protracted withdrawal syndrome from barbiturates may produce symptoms identical to Generalized Anxiety Disorder or Panic Disorder, for example. Due to the sometimes prolonged nature and severity of withdrawal, abrupt withdrawal is not advised.

Common barbituate PAWS can include:

  • anhedonia (lost ability to feel pleasure)
  • coordination problems
  • cravings
  • depression
  • emotional overreactions
  • feelings of guilt
  • impaired concentration
  • impaired interpersonal skills
  • increased sensitivity to pain
  • lack of initiative
  • memory problems
  • obsessive-compulsive behaviour
  • pessimistic thoughts
  • psychosocial dysfunction
  • sleep disturbances
  • stress sensitivity

The following triggers may provoke you to return to barbiturate abuse, or worsening of the symptoms of PAW:

  1. Multitasking
  2. Social Conflicts
  3. Stressful and frustrating situations
  4. Unrealistic expectations of oneself

Expect your condition to improve gradually after several months. If your condition is severe stabilization might take a year.

Medications for Withdrawal

Due to the dangers that can manifest during barbiturate withdrawal, 24-7 medical supervision is necessary if you want to come off barbiturates safely. This is why quality residential facilities staffed with medical professionals are preferred; they can make your withdrawal process as smooth and comfortable as possible. Medically assisted detox adds an extra layer of safety.

Prescription medication may be necessary if you’ve been taking large doses of barbituates for a long time, particularly if you abused short-acting barbiturates. Usually, the most commonly prescribed medication for barbiturate withdrawal are other barbituates. In those cases, you may be switched to a longer-acting barbiturate. Additionally, doctors may recommend that you taper off the drug.

If you’ve become drug-dependent on longer-acting barbiturates, you should discuss treatment options with your physician to determine which detox medication is right for you.

Medications used to treat barbituate withdrawal include the following:

Phenobarbital is a longer-acting barbiturate with a half-life of more than 86 hours and a larger therapeutic window.

Pentobarbital prevents withdrawal symptoms and allows the recovering user’s brain and central nervous system to gradually return to a drug-free state.

Symptom-specific medications can help, too. Physicians may prescribe medications to relieve other specific withdrawal symptoms. These medications can include sleep aids for insomnia, over-the-counter medications for nausea and vomiting, and anticonvulsants for seizures.

Cognitive behavioral therapy can also help the post acute withdrawal syndrome especially when cravings are a prominent feature.

Other Treatments During Withdrawal

Problems managing psychological and emotional issues during withdrawal are a concern for people suffering from barbiturate dependence. These inner issues are usually a factor in barbiturate use. In fact, barbiturate use often coexists with mental and emotional problems. Other treatments recommended during withdrawal often include:

Cognitive Restructuring – Cognitive Restructuring is a commonly used technique in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). This method involves recognizing destructive thinking patterns that arise when stressful situations come up. The main goal of this technique is to teach how to establish control over these thoughts, learn to control them, and develop new and healthier ways of thinking.

Conflict Management – This technique teaches you conflict resolution skills, designed to help you both handle and internalize conflict situations in a healthy way that is conducive to maintaining your sobriety.

Controlled Breathing – Breathing affects our body. It regulates our blood pressure and stress hormone levels. Breathing also controls the function of our immune systems. When stressful situations such as withdrawal arise, the body instinctively takes small, shallow breaths. Shallow breathing can make stressful situations worse. Learning to control your breathing  can help you calm yourself naturally during stressful situations.

On-site Support Groups –  When available, you can attend an onsite 12-Step or other type of support
group meetings while receiving detoxification services. Support Groups are extremely helpful in keeping up morale and in helping you cope with your thoughts and feelings.

Yoga and Meditation – Yoga and meditation involve focusing attention to help quiet the mind. This allows you to calm yourself in times of stress. Learning to meditate and practice yoga exercises can help you relieve anxiety, depression, insomnia, and other emotional difficulties during withdrawal.

The First Step: Ask For Help

Becoming aware of the need for help is a huge step on the road to recovery. In order to succeed and become barbiturate-free you’ll need the expertise of medical professionals to guide you. Reach out to our trusted recovery specialists to get help right NOW. Once you decide to get help, you regain control over your life, and finally you may achieve your goals.

What happens after you make the call? We’ll connect you with a caring, compassionate and trusted admission specialist will answer and talk with you briefly about:

  • Your motives for starting a barbiturate detox program.
  • The length of time you abused barbiturates.
  • Health complications or diseases (if present)
  • Your relationship with family members and loved ones.
  • Payment options and insurance coverage.

The admission specialist can then help you make a decision about treatment based on your needs and budget.

How to get over hesitation

If you know that you have a drug problem, the worst thing you can do is to do nothing. Dependence on barbiturates won’t disappear on its own. But what can you do? Here are a few suggestions on how you can motivate yourself and overcome your fear of withdrawal:

1. Become aware and accept the presence of your problem. Taking responsibility and admitting to yourself that you have a problem with barbiturates requires courage, but it is the only way to move beyond the repeated cycle of addiction.

2. Inform yourself about barbiturate withdrawal. Learning as much as you can about the process of detoxification and the consequences of abuse will open a new perspective for you. The following resource may be a good starting point:

Education can raise your awareness, but it needs to be followed by action. Otherwise, you can end up caught in the same cycle of addiction and fear. The main purpose of information is to help you realize that you are not the only one facing barbiturate addiction. Others have been in your shoes and have succeeded. Take their stories as a motivational guide on your way to sobriety. Call us for treatment. You, too, can become another successful story that might also inspire others to live a happy drug-free life.

3. Trust professional treatment. Licensed detox clinics are staffed with doctors and nurses trained in helping patients cope with the withdrawal symptoms of early drug or alcohol abstinence. Without medical care, these withdrawal symptoms can be unpleasant, dangerous and even life-threatening.

To sum up, recovery is possible. Once you get over your fear of barbiturate withdrawal, you can turn your life around. Keep in mind that 23 million people walk tall in addiction recovery. If they can, YOU can! Call our helpline for assistance at any time of the day or night. We are here for you.

What about rehab?

Some people can benefit from treatment after withdrawal ends.

When you arrive at a detox clinic you’ll be asked to complete an intake evaluation to help assess your relationship with drugs. On this first day, you should complete a comprehensive intake with the staff, who will gather information about your drug use and health history. They may also do a medical and psychological evaluation. This intake process will then form your treatment plan.

Treatment may be based in detox alone. Or, experts may suggest that you follow up with residential or outpatient treatment for addiction. Working with a psychiatrist and/or a psychologist will help you discover the underlying issues behind your addiction and work on emotional stabilization.

The final step in the barbiturate recovery process is aftercare planning. This includes planning how to ease the transition back into the real world. Aftercare programs are made to help people addicted to barbiturates maintain sobriety after treatment.

The key to quitting barbiturates while trying to avoid uncomfortable withdrawal is seeking help. There are specific medical treatment that our treatment consultants may explain to you. Just dial. Calls are confidential, and our advisers are here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with all you need to know about barbiturate withdrawal and treatment programs.
Why waste time and energy ?
We can walk the road to recovery together.
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How To Withdraw From Barbiturates Safely

Barbiturate withdrawal can be very dangerous and therefore it is NOT recommended that you attempt to detox on your own. Instead of risking your life, seek medical help and enroll into a treatment program. You have multiple treatment varieties for barbiturate withdrawal and addiction that differ in cost, environment, and length. When searching for a rehab program, carefully look your options.

Why struggle to look for treatment alone when you can always call and get a free, trusted referral to the nearest barbiturate addiction facilities and detox centers in your area.

Starting a Life in Recovery

It is in our human nature to be afraid of the unknown. But the real questions is “Do people fear withdrawal or the idea of coping with life and reality after they finish detox?”

When you actively (ab)use barbiturates, your brain chemistry changes. The chemicals found in barbituates raise the level of dopamine (feel good hormone) way above natural levels. Quitting barbiturates will mean that your body has to find a way and fight to restore its natural mechanisms of reaching pleasure. So, what most people fear is not only connected with the way they’ll go through withdrawal, but how they’ll manage to find pleasure in other activities that do not involve drugs.

Drugs fill a void in person’s life and when the main fuel that keeps that void covered gets eliminated people usually fear:

  • that life will no longer be as fun or enjoyable without barbiturates
  • that sobriety will be too hard
  • facing life’s difficulties without barbiturates
  • relapse
  • sobriety
  • the consequences from past actions

We are aware these things concern you. But recovery and treatment cover all these issues. You’ll learn to manage your emotions and view difficulties differently. Moreover, treatment teaches you how to relieve negative emotions and thoughts in a healthy way.

What’s needed from you?

A strong will, devotion, and persistence. Follow the protocol and stay true to yourself. The journey has just begun.

Ready to become drug-free?

Break free from barbiturates and call. Our trusted consultants are there for you at any time of the day or night.

Reference Sources: SAMHSA Quick Guide Tip 45
NCBI: Clinical Guidelines for Withdrawal Management and Treatment of Drug Dependence in Closed Settings
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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