Barbiturates share a significant portion of history in the world of drugs, and they were initially made to battle common ailments in our society. Anxiety and sleeplessness are two significant problems that have affected people for hundreds of years. With that, medications have been sought for centuries to bring relief to these problems. Barbiturates were introduced in 1904 by Farbwerke Fr Bayer and Co, who brought changes to the treatment of psychiatric and neurological disorders.
A significant portion of the population gained access to these medications and started changing their lives. As barbiturates were studied more in-depth, it began to open up the field of intravenous anesthesia. The discovery paved the way for minor operations. At this point in history, the drugs were revolutionary, but still hugely misunderstood.
The 20th century was a time of scientific exploration into drugs, and more than 2,500 barbiturates were synthesized. Of them, 50 were approved for mass production. After being dispersed into society, the use of barbiturates became widespread. Many barbiturates are still used today, despite their drop in popularity and doctors unwillingness to prescribe them. One such drug, Amytal, has a long history of medical use but was phased out due to its addictive properties. It was created to treat insomnia and anxiety, but doctors realized its potent properties.
The use of barbiturates today is much rarer, but it does exist. There are 12 of these drugs that remain in use by physicians. Amytal is one of those drugs, and it is restricted for use in a hospital setting as a sedative before surgery. Many dangers are associated with Amytal use when a doctor cannot monitor you. The drug should only be consumed under the supervision of physicians and medical staff. Due to its potency, under no circumstances will Amytal be prescribed by a doctor, but the drug remains available on the black market. Amytal withdrawal is hazardous, and it is similar to alcohol or benzo withdrawal.
Amytal works how you would expect if you are familiar with depressant drugs. Upon entry into the brain, it binds with receptors of the neurotransmitter GABA. GABA is produced to slow down activity in the central nervous system (CNS) to naturally calm nerves. The purpose of Amytal is to give an added level of anxiety reduction, calm nerves, and relieve stress. The drug inhibits these nerve impulses that cause these feelings.
Once Amytal enters your system, it mimics GABA by binding to the receptors and producing anxiolytic feelings. The receptors become stimulated and produce excessive amounts of the feel-good chemical and flood the brain and nervous system. Those who use Amytal for extended periods, however, are prone to developing a chemical dependency or addiction. If you attempt to stop using Amytal by yourself, you are likely to experience dangerous withdrawal symptoms due to its effects on GABA.
As we mentioned above, Amytal withdrawal is more than uncomfortable; it can be deadly. Unfortunately, death is a potential side effect of barbiturate withdrawal due to the body’s inability to produce GABA after cessation. Nearly 75 percent of those who withdraw from barbiturates suffer seizures, and a staggering 66 percent will experience delirium tremens (DTs) that lasts several days. You must consider treatment if you plan to stop using Amytal.
Other common withdrawal symptoms include:
Amytal withdrawal symptoms will resolve themselves in around two weeks, but lingering symptoms may persist up to six months. Some of these may include insomnia, depression, cravings, and anxiety in something known as Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS). If you experience any of these symptoms, you must reach out to a medical professional for help.
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Death is a potential outcome of unsupervised medical detox, and placing yourself into a treatment center will give you the best result. If you want to abstain from Amytal, you must go about it in a way that is not a detriment to your health. Detox allows you to transition into sobriety under the supervision of addiction specialists and doctors that will treat any dangerous outcomes.
While detox plays an integral role in the continuum of care, it is not enough to overcome the disease of addiction. You must commit yourself to care that helps you understand the behaviors that put you in this position. Therapy will help you get to the root of the addiction and create a plan moving forward. If you are struggling with a barbiturate addiction, you may be placed into a residential treatment center. Speak with a professional today to determine the right step for you.
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Boonstra, E., de Kleijn, R., Colzato, L. S., Alkemade, A., Forstmann, B. U., & Nieuwenhuis, S. (2015, October 6). Neurotransmitters as food supplements: the effects of GABA on brain and behavior. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4594160/
National Institute on Drug Abuse. (n.d.). 8: Medical detoxification. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/teaching-packets/understanding-drug-abuse-addiction/section-iii/7-medical-detoxification
Evashwick, C. (1989). Creating the continuum of care. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10293297