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Seconal Addiction

Seconal is the brand name for a substance called secobarbital sodium, a drug that’s used to treat epilepsy, insomnia, and anxiety disorders. It’s in a class of drugs called barbiturates that was discovered in the late 1800s and heavily used throughout the first half of the 20th century. It’s also in a larger category of drugs called central nervous system (CNS) depressants that work to calm you down and control excitability in the nervous system. 

What Is Seconal?

Seconal works in a way that’s similar to other depressants. It primarily affects a chemical in the brain called gamma-Aminobutyric acid or GABA. This naturally occurring chemical in the brain is responsible for regulating excitability in the nervous system. GABA can calm you down when it’s time to rest and relax. However, people with anxiety or sleep disorders may have a problem that affects their nervous system and their excitability. It may be more difficult for them to calm down when it’s time to rest. Seconal can help by binding to GABA receptors and increasing the efficiency of GABA neurotransmitters.

Barbiturate drugs like Seconal were once widely prescribed for insomnia and anxiety disorders, but they have since been replaced by other alternatives. In the 1960s, barbiturates came to be known for their adverse effects including dependence, addiction, and overdose. Barbiturates can be highly toxic if you take too much, leading to potentially fatal overdose symptoms. In fact, several high-profile deaths were linked to barbiturate drug use throughout the 20th century including those of Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland, and Jimi Hendrix.

Barbiturates were all but completely replaced by benzodiazepines by the 1970s because they were considered a safer alternative. While they are less toxic when it comes to causing an overdose, they share some of the same dependence and addiction risks. 

What Are the Signs of Seconal Addiction?

Seconal is a highly addictive drug that can cause physical dependence after several weeks of regular use. If you or a loved one has used this drug, it can be helpful to learn the signs and symptoms of abuse, dependence, and addiction. Catching a substance use disorder early can help you avoid some of the most serious consequences like an overdose or dangerous withdrawal symptoms. 

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One of the first signs of Seconal addiction is the feeling that the drug is getting weaker. The same dose you’ve been taking from the beginning seems like it is less effective over time. This is called tolerance, and it means your brain is getting used to the drug and that your brain chemistry is adapting to its presence. 

If you continue to use, you may start to become dependent on the drug. Dependence means that your brain is starting to rely on Seconal to maintain normal brain functioning. If you stop using or cut back, you may start to experience uncomfortable symptoms like anxiety, insomnia, and irritability. If you stop using it abruptly after a longer period of dependence, you might experience life-threatening withdrawal symptoms such as seizures or delirium tremens. 

A substance use disorder becomes an addiction when drug use becomes compulsive and gets out of your control. Addiction is defined by compulsive use despite serious consequences like a strain on your relationships, problems at work, or legal troubles. 

How Seconal Addiction Treatment Works

Addiction treatment is a complex process that’s designed to help you address a substance use disorder and any other issues that are directly or indirectly related to addiction. For treatment to be effective, it needs to be tailored to your individual needs. For that reason, as soon as you enter an addiction treatment program, you will complete an intake and assessment process that’s designed to determine your needs and the level of care that would be right for you. With your therapist, you will create a personalized addiction treatment plan with several therapy options. Ideally, the plan will include evidence-based addiction treatment options. 

Evidence-based therapy refers to therapy options that are backed up by scientific studies. As you progress through treatment, your needs should be reassessed every week, to adapt to new and developing needs. If you have become physically dependent on Seconal or any other CNS depressant, you will most likely begin with medical detox. Detox is a process that involves treating, managing, or avoiding symptoms that come from withdrawal. You will be cared for by medical professionals for 24 hours a day for about a week. 

After detox, you may continue on to another level of care, depending on your needs. If you still have ongoing health or psychological concerns after detox, you may need inpatient services. This allows for more time under 24-hour medical, as well as clinical to help avoid any serious complications. Residential programs also provide 24-hour care and supervision, and it’s ideal for anyone who doesn’t have an advantageous recovery environment at home.

Partial hospitalization is the highest level of care that allows you to live independently. It involves a treatment schedule that can involve hours of clinical services that are similar to a work week but no less than nine hours per week. Outpatient services serve as a transitional step between independent life after treatment and more intensive care. 

Addiction treatment involves a variety of therapy options, including individual, group, and family therapy. You will most likely go through some type of behavioral therapy, especially the most common addiction therapy options such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT is useful for helping clients identify triggers, increase self-efficacy, and develop relapse prevention strategies. 

How Dangerous Is Seconal?

Seconal is a member of a class of drugs that has been largely outmoded because of its potential danger. Barbiturates were replaced by benzodiazepines in the 1960s and 1970s because of their overdose, side effects, and dependence potential. Seconal can cause dizziness, confusion, agitation, anxiety, nausea, vomiting, and nightmares. If you use it for recreational purposes, you increase your risk of a potentially fatal overdose, which can cause respiratory depression to the point of oxygen deprivation. 

The risk of a fatal overdose is exasperated when the drug is mixed with other substances, especially other barbiturates, benzodiazepines, alcohol, and opioids. The combinations work to decrease your nervous system activity, even more, leading to fatal consequences.

Withdrawal symptoms can also be potentially dangerous, causing anxiety, panic, tremors, seizures, and a medical complication called delirium tremens. Delirium tremens can be fatal without medical attention, but with help, the risk of life-threatening symptoms is significantly reduced. Dangerous withdrawal symptoms are more likely to occur if you quit using abruptly. If you’ve become physically dependent on Seconal, speak to a doctor before you stop using completely. 

Seconal Abuse Stats

  • Only 12 of the existing 2,500 barbiturates are still used as medications today.
  • About 9% of high school students reported abusing barbiturates at least once in their lives.
  • In 10% of barbiturate overdose cases, symptoms prove fatal.

Recover from Seconal Addiction Today

Addiction is a chronic disease and relapse is a common occurrence for people in recovery. However, with the right help and therapy that’s tailored to your needs, you may achieve long-lasting sobriety and a life of meaningful recovery. Addiction is a complicated disease, so it requires a complex process to treat. To learn more about Seconal addiction and how it can be treated, speak to an addiction treatment specialist today at Arete Recovery.


American Psychiatric Association. (2017, January). What Is Addiction? Retrieved from

Ranker. (n.d.). Famous People Who Died Of Barbiturate Overdose. Retrieved from

U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2017, September 23). Barbiturate intoxication and overdose: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. Retrieved from

Anxiety Disorders. (n.d.). Retrieved July 09, 2020 from

Seizures. (2018, October 23). Retrieved July 09, 2020 from

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