Barbiturates are a type of sedative which are administered to produce sleep. They are any of an important group of drugs that depress brain function. Depending on the dosage or formulation, barbiturates have a sedative (tranquilizing), hypnotic (sleep-inducing), anticonvulsant, or anesthetic effect. Some barbiturates that are very short acting such as thiopental are injected to induce rapid anesthesia (sleep), before surgery. A long acting barbiturate, such as phenobarbital is predcribed with other medications to prevent epileptic seizures.
Barbiturates are capable of producing all levels of CNS mood alteration, from excitement to mild sedation, hypnosis, and possibly a deep coma. If someone overdosed, the result may be death. Sleep that is induced by barbiturates is different from physiologic sleep. Studies have shown that barbiturates reduce the amount of time spent in the dreaming stage of sleep. Patients who use barbiturates regularly may have an increase in dreaming, nightmares, and/or insomnia.
Barbiturates are respiratory depressants. The degree of the depression is a result of the size of the dose. Studies that scientists have done on laboratory animals show that barbiturates cause a reduction in the tone and contractility of the uterus, ureters, and urinary bladder. Barbiturates are weak acids that are quickly absorbed and distributed to all tissues and fluids with high amounts in the brain, liver, and kidneys.
A type of barbiturate that is given to patients is secobarbital. Secobarbital is the most abused barbiturate. It is a potent (strong) sedative hypnotic agent that is used for the short term treatment of insomnia. Secobarbital is given in capsules called “Secobarbital
Sodium Capsules”. Some signs and symptoms of the abuse of secobarbital are distorted mood, impaired judgment, impaired motor skills, and the residual sedation of a “hangover”. Some signs and symptoms of the withdrawal of the drug are anxiety, cardiovascular collapse, delirium, hallucinations, insomnia, muscle twitching, nausea, vomiting, postural hypotension, seizures which may occur between 16 hours and 5 days after the users last dose, weakness, and weightloss.
Along with insomnia, secobarbital is also administered for acute tetanus convulsion, acute psychotic agitation, status epilepticus, and preoperative sedation. Depending on the reason for a patient taking this drug, secobarbital can be administered through capsules, injection, tablets, or rectal suppositories.
Microsoft Encarta. 1996