What Is Barbiturate?

Barbiturate is a substance that when consumed causes relaxation and sedation. Barbiturates can be found in combination with unsuccessful treatments. When used more than twice or thrice in a week, these treatments can be addictive.  

For strict medicinal purposes, barbiturate can be used as a medication for treating insomnia, seizures, and headache. It falls amongst the first classes of treatments.

Other Definitions

Other common definitions of this substance include:

  1. A salt of barbituric acid.
  2. Any of the different products of barbituric acid like phenobarbital. They are normally used as hypnotics, antispasmodics, sedatives, and very addictive.


Commercial Names of Barbiturates

Street Names of Barbiturates


Butabarbital (Butisol)


Primidone (not a controlled substance)


Butalbital (in Fioricet, not a controlled drug substance)

Thiopental (Pentothal). It’s no longer on the market due to the ethical matters about a fatal injection for a capital offense penalty.

Blue heavens







Red devils



Yellow jackets



Christmas trees

Double trouble


*Most of these street names vary from one geographical region to another.

The Use and Abuse of Barbiturates

In hospitals and other treatment settings, the uses of barbiturate include:

  • Sedation and hypnosis to calm down the patient and stimulate sleep.
  • Thriopentone or Pentobarbitone is used in the introduction of general anesthesia.
  • Pentobarbitone and Phenobarbitone are used in certain cases of epilepsy.

However, barbiturates somehow find their way into the streets and are normally abused through injection or ingestion (pill form). Often, they are abused as a replacement for alcohol. Addicts use them to get the feeling of relaxation and euphoria. On the street, they are usually taken with crystal meth, amphetamine, and cocaine. As a result, users of the drug almost always find their way to the stronger, more addictive counterparts. Barbiturate calms down the brain and has effects similar to that of sleeping pills, antihistamines, and painkillers.

Effects of Barbiturates Abuse

Barbiturates fall in a wide category of substances referred to as sedatives. Historically, sedatives have been prescribed for the treatment of insomnia, seizures, and anxiety. In spite of this, continued usage at intensified doses can have harsh effects on your health, and can even worsen the signs and symptoms that it’s initially prescribed to treat. And slowly by slowly, you get addicted, and you find yourself unable to do without them.

Here’s a breakdown of the various effects of abusing barbiturates from short-term to long-term:

Short-Term Effects

Barbiturates weaken the Central Nervous System and have consequences close to that of alcohol. Here are some of the instant effects associated with using barbiturates:

  • Sedation and relaxation.
  • Feelings of happiness or euphoria.
  • Decreased inhibitions.
  • Reduce anxiety.
  • Weariness and sleep in higher doses.

Long-Term Effects

Employed as a short-lived means of treatment, barbiturates can successfully reduce the signs and symptoms of anxiety and insomnia, act as anticonvulsants for those having seizure ailments and offer pre-surgical sedation.  Just like any other drug, barbiturates too have side effects profiles. The chronic exploit of barbiturates can result in several adverse consequences which include:

  • Paranoia.
  • Slurred speech.
  • Stupor.
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Higher sensitivity to pain.
  • Higher sensitivity to sound.
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia.
  • An intensified perspiration.
  • Psychosis and hallucinations (rare though)
  • Attentiveness and memory damages.
  • Incoordination and damaged balance.
  • Unsteadiness in emotions.

In overdoses or higher dose circumstances, barbiturates can lead to critical brain plus other organ impairment, coma and even death due to breathing suppression. So, as harmless as most users think of them to be, there’s a lot of risks involved in their abuse, which could even cost you your life.