Nembutal is the brand name for a psychoactive medication called pentobarbital. Nembutal is in a class of drugs called barbiturates that were popular in the first half of the 20th century and one of the first drugs used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders.
Today, they are no longer widely used to treat common ailments, but they can be used as anesthetics, migraine treatment, and epilepsy medication. Pentobarbital also has been used in lethal injection because of its ability to cause respiratory arrest in high doses.
Nembutal is in a larger category of drugs called central nervous system (CNS) depressants that work to suppress excitability in the nervous system. Other depressants include benzodiazepines, non-benzodiazepine Z-drugs, and alcohol. Nembutal works similarly to other depressants. It primarily interacts with a neurotransmitter called gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA), and its respective receptor.
GABA is a naturally occurring chemical in the brain that is responsible for controlling excitability in the nervous system. When you become anxious, excited, or energized, GABA calms you back down when it’s time to rest. It’s also important in facilitating sleep. If you have an anxiety or sleep disorder, this process can be negatively affected. Drugs like Nembutal can bind to the GABA receptor and increase the effectiveness of GABA. The result is a hypnotic and sedative effect. Nembutal also can relieve anxiety and diseases that cause convulsions.
Nembutal and other barbiturates fell out of common use when their adverse effects started to become public knowledge and benzodiazepines, which are less toxic, started to gain popularity. Around the 1960s, benzodiazepines were quickly growing in popularity as a go-to anxiety and sleep disorder medication. When used for too long, or when it’s abused, it can cause physical dependence, addiction, and withdrawal. High doses of the drug also can lead to an overdose which can be deadly.
Nembutal addiction can be treated with safe medical detox and a full continuum of care. In some cases, other depressants may be used to wean you off of Nembutal without causing harmful withdrawal symptoms.
Addiction to a depressant like Nembutal will come with several telltale physical, psychological and even behavioral signs that you might notice in yourself or someone else. As with many psychoactive substances that can be addictive, the first sign of a substance use disorder is a growing tolerance.
Tolerance is when your body starts to get used to an addictive substance and begins to counteract it. It may feel like your standard dose is getting weaker, but it’s actually just your body adapting to the presence of the chemical that you are introducing. If you compensate for tolerance with a higher dose, you increase your likelihood of developing a chemical dependence.
When your nervous system adapts to the drug to the point of relying on it to maintain balanced brain chemistry, you will become chemically dependent. If you skip a dose, cut back, or stop using, you may experience withdrawal symptoms like anxiety, panic, paranoia, and insomnia. If you have been dependent for a while and you stop using abruptly, you will increase your potential of experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms like delirium tremens and seizures. If you believe you’ve developed a dependence on Nembutal or another depressant, speak to your doctor before quitting cold turkey.
If you are worried that a friend or family member may have a substance use disorder involving a barbiturate, there are some signs and symptoms you might observe. Addiction can be hard to detect at first, but it often starts to take over a person’s like in visible ways.
A substance use disorder becomes an addiction when drug use becomes compulsive. If you are addicted, you may continue to use even after experiencing serious consequences of using, like a DUI or job loss. If you believe you may have become addicted, there is help available.
Addiction is a chronic disease with relapse rates that are similar to other diseases like asthma and hypertension. However, it can be effectively treated, even if you’ve tried and failed in the past. For treatment to be effective, it has to be tailored to your specific needs. Addiction often has a combination of several underlying causes related to biological, environmental, and developmental factors. It also can cause consequences that affect your physical and mental health, personal relationships, and career. A person entering treatment for the first time may have several issues that need to be addressed.
When you enter treatment, you go through an intake and assessment process that’s intended to pinpoint your exact needs. You also go over an assessment with your therapist called a biopsychosocial, which is designed to root out underlying causes of addiction, roadblocks to recovery, and your own concerns about treatment. Through this process, you and your therapist will make a treatment plan that is designed to help you work toward achieving your specific recovery goals.
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Your physical health and safety will be the first thing that’s addressed in addiction treatment. If you are seeking treatment for substance disorder involving Nembutal, you will most likely need to start with the highest level in addiction treatment: medical detox. Detox is a process by which your body readjusts to life without a psychoactive substance after developing a chemical addiction. As a barbiturate, Nembutal has the potential to cause dangerous symptoms during withdrawal like seizures and delirium tremens.
Medical detox involves 24 hours of medically managed treatment that can safely guide you through substance withdrawal. You may be treated with medications to help wean you off the drug slowly to avoid dangerous withdrawal symptoms. Detox usually lasts for about a week.
After detox, clinicians will help guide you to the next level of care for your needs. If you need longer intensive care for ongoing medical or psychological conditions, you may be placed in an inpatient program that offers 24 hours of medical or clinical monitoring. If you need assistance with housing or if your living situation would be a challenge to your recovery, a residential program may be for you.
Nembutal addiction can be a dangerous disease if you don’t seek help when you need it. Though addiction is difficult to overcome, you don’t have to go through it alone. Even if you tried to achieve and maintain sobriety before and relapsed, you can still achieve lasting recovery with the right help.
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Lydiard, R. B. (2003). The role of GABA in anxiety disorders. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12662130