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Amytal Addiction

Amobarbital, better known as Amytal, is a highly addictive barbiturate that was once used to treat anxiety and insomnia. Amytal was often prescribed to American soldiers that fought in World War II to treat something called “shell shock.” Later on, officials realized the drug heavily impaired the soldiers, so they put an immediate stop to this. 

Barbiturates are seldom prescribed today, largely because of the many dangers associated with them. These can include a high risk of abuse, addiction, and overdose. According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), there are only 12 barbiturate medications still being used for medical purposes in the United States. Amytal is one of these drugs.

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Amytal is restricted to a hospital setting and used as a sedative during pre-surgery. While it is not given in the form of a prescription, the black market offers Amytal illegally on the dark web. Due to the strength of this drug, it should only be used under the supervision of highly trained professionals. When this drug is taken without someone ensuring their breathing and vital signs are stable, this could easily lead to an overdose. Overdosing on Amytal can cause an array of problems ranging from major organ damage to death.

How Does Amytal Work?

Amytal works in the same fashion as all depressants and barbiturates. It enters the brain and binds with receptors of the neurotransmitter gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA is a chemical that is naturally produced by the brain and slows down activity in the central nervous system (CNS). It does this to relax muscles, calm nerves, and relieve stress and anxiety. It inhibits the nerve impulses that cause these feelings where they cannot reach the brain. 

When Amytal enters the brain, it mimics naturally occurring GABA and binds to the receptors. As a result, it stimulates them into overproduction and floods the brain and nervous system with excess amounts of GABA. By doing so, it achieves in creating intense feelings of sedation used to induce sleep.

What Are the Signs of Amytal Addiction?

Identifying a drug addiction is often more difficult than one would imagine. In the early stages, the user may not be affected in ways that provide outward signs. But with drugs like Amytal, there are signs to look out for. Barbiturates are drugs that come with many signs anyone suspecting drug use can look out for. Isolated signs of abuse will eventually become more prevalent over time.

The problem with drugs prescribed by doctors is that the lines between addiction and taking out of necessity become blurred. With drugs like Amytal, it is easier to distinguish the difference. If the user is going out of their way to risk freedom and purchase drugs that could be counterfeit off the dark web, then this is a sign of addiction. 

Time is of the essence when trying to catch any addiction, as for someone using drugs, this could mean the difference between life and death. Familiarizing yourself with the signs to accurately determine if a loved one is abusing Amytal is vital in getting them help. Some of the mental and physical side effects associated with regular and long-term abuse include:

  • Slurred speech
  • Anxiety
  • Dizziness
  • Insomnia
  • Impaired motor skills and coordination
  • Tremors
  • Frequent, painful migraines
  • Periods of confusion
  • Chronic drowsiness
  • Hallucinations (This is in extreme cases.)

In most cases, the person abusing the drug hasn’t realized that they are on the slippery slope to addiction. Losing control is a process that happens gradually over time. Before the user has time to react, they have already become dependent. This, in many cases, leads to obsessive and compulsive use.

When this level of addiction has been reached, the outward symptoms will become more apparent. Getting and taking Amytal will be the main priority in the user’s life, and they will begin sacrificing relationships, responsibilities, and hobbies so they can continue using. Symptoms that indicate a substance user is deep into their addiction include:

  • Taking Amytal without a prescription
  • Increasing tolerance to Amytal’s effects
  • Taking Amytal more often or in larger amounts than prescribed
  • Experiencing cravings and withdrawal symptoms when stopping use
  • Becoming isolated socially
  • Forging prescriptions or doctor shopping for multiple prescriptions
  • Significant decline in performance at work or school
  • Lying about using
  • Stealing to support Amytal habit
  • Inability to function without Amytal
  • Inability to quit despite multiple attempts to do so

If you believe you have seen a loved one exhibiting any of these signs, you must take the proper steps to ensure their lives are safe. Seeking out professional addiction treatment will significantly decrease the potential for an overdose that could end up being fatal. The biggest decision someone can make is to enter treatment, but it also could be the one that saves their life.

What Is Involved in Amytal Addiction Treatment?

Amytal, and barbiturates in general, is notoriously dangerous during withdrawals. To ensure the most effective and safe treatment, you must start this journey with medical detoxification. This will allow for a medically supervised transition into sobriety as the substance exits your body. After completion of this stage, the user will have achieved mental and physical stabilization.

Because of the dangers attributed to Amytal and barbiturates, sudden cessation and detoxing on one’s own outside of a medical facility should never take place. As to be expected with barbiturates, an Amytal detox can be just as unpredictable. The withdrawal symptoms can be excruciating and, in some cases, life-threatening. Some of these symptoms include chest pains, seizures, hallucinations, suicidal behavior, and psychosis. 

Once the dangerous symptoms have subsided, the next step in the continuum of care will be moving into an addiction recovery program. A medical team will determine where you will be placed depending on how severe the addiction is.

Detox must be followed by continued care in a treatment program to get to the root of the addiction. This guides clients in understanding how to manage their impulses and cravings. Addiction experts have indicated that the longer an individual remains in treatment, the better the treatment and recovery outcomes. It is recommended that a client complete a minimum of 90 days in treatment for the best results. 

Treatment will take place in either an inpatient or outpatient program. Typically in barbiturate treatment, the team will suggest you go to residential (inpatient) treatment and live on-site. This will be determined on the history of the user and if their home environment is suitable for addiction recovery. While living on-site, they will have 24-hours-a-day access to professional medical care, as opposed to an outpatient client, who will have the option to go home once their therapy session concludes.

Whichever decision is made collaboratively with the treatment team, clients will work with a therapist to create a treatment plan customized for their specific needs. Therapies a client can expect to take part in usually include:

  • Behavioral therapy
  • Mindfulness and stress management
  • Dual diagnosis treatment
  • Group counseling
  • Addiction education
  • Medication-assisted treatment (MAT)
  • Relapse prevention planning
  • 12-step programs
  • Holistic therapy

How Dangerous Is Amytal?

The reason barbiturates have fallen out of widespread use is because of their adverse effects. They are very dangerous, even when used as prescribed. For this reason, doctors have strayed away from using them outside of situations where medical supervision is absent. Serious health concerns that doctors have with Amytal use include major liver damage, dilated blood vessels, hemorrhagic blisters, and very low blood pressure.

It is very easy to overdose on Amytal exclusively, and if you do not die from suffocation caused by the drug, then there are other ways it can kill you. Someone can overdose on Amytal within 15 minutes of taking it and will show overdose symptoms such as:

  • Impaired coordination
  • Confusion
  • Dangerously slow and shallow breathing
  • Slowed reflexes
  • Hypothermia
  • Hypotension
  • Unresponsiveness
  • Coma

If someone is exhibiting signs of an Amytal overdose, you must immediately call 911. Complications from an overdose can include:

  • Brain damage
  • Kidney failure
  • Arrhythmia
  • Pulmonary edema
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Pneumonia

Amytal Abuse Statistics

  • Amytal is one of the most commonly abused barbiturates in the U.S.
  • Even though barbiturates are much more rarely prescribed today, the U.S. still annually produces roughly 300 tons of barbiturates, including Amytal.
  • About 10% of all barbiturate-related overdoses are fatal, usually due to lung or heart complications.
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Sources

Laudet, A. B., Savage, R., & Mahmood, D. (2002). from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1852519/

(July, 2017). Drugs of Abuse. DEA. from https://www.dea.gov/sites/default/files/2018-06/drug_of_abuse.pdf

(July, 2017). Amobarbital sodium. U.S. National Library of Medicine. from https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Amobarbital-sodium

(July, 2017). Amytal SODIUM Vial. WebMD. from https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-8994/amytal-injection/details

(April, 2017). AMYTAL SODIUM. Daily Med. from https://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/fda/fdaDrugXsl.cfm?setid=a2523317-e071-4e04-9d9f-9053286e0ce2&type=display

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