Hello, and welcome to the beginning of your journey to recovery from barbiturates, more commonly known as ‘downers.’ This is a comprehensive article that takes you through the signs and risks of barbiturate abuse, how to recognize those signs and risks in order to help someone in need, what withdrawal from barbiturates can be like, and finally what The Haven has to offer in the way of detoxification from these dangerous downers, the utterly important first step toward recovery.
If you wish only to read about our detoxification process itself, please scroll down and begin reading at the section titled About Our Barbiturates Detox Program. Otherwise, please continue to read on. The best of luck to you, but with help from The Haven, luck is something you may not need!
Signs of Barbiturate Abuse
Barbiturates have been around for quite a long time in this country. The term ‘barbiturate’ is an umbrella term, covering all drugs that depress the central nervous system. The effect ranges anywhere from minor sedation to full-blown anesthesia. Although used since the 1860s, the medical community has since the 1950s been aware of both the addictiveness and danger of barbiturates.
From Wikipedia: “During World War II, military personnel in the Pacific region were given “goofballs” to allow them to tolerate the heat and humidity of daily working conditions. Goofballs were distributed to reduce the demand on the respiratory system, as well as maintaining blood pressure, to combat the extreme conditions. Many soldiers returned with addictions that required several months of rehabilitation before discharge. This led to growing dependency problems, often exacerbated by indifferent doctors prescribing high doses to unknowing patients through the 1950s and 1960s.”
The use of barbiturates has largely been replaced by the use of benzodiazepines, due to the latter posing a much lesser risk of overdose, and not being nearly as addictive as the former. Still, though, some barbiturates are used today as anesthesia, as treatment for certain types of headaches, and even for assisted suicide and capital punishment.
This is a testament to the power of downers – drugs NOT meant to be messed with.
It’s also a testament to the fact that although barbiturates were more popularly abused at a time in the past, the abuse of them has not gone away. We’d like to provide you with some signs of barbiturate abuse. If you or someone you know is exhibiting some of these signs, even if you are not 100% sure they are abusing barbiturates, you should seek professional assistance.
Some of the signs of barbiturates abuse include:
- Lack of motor skills
- Shallow breathing
- Extreme fatigue
- Sedation and/or lethargy
- Abnormally low anxiety
- Lack of facial expression
- Difficulty thinking clearly
- Mumbling and/or difficulty talking
Risks of Barbiturate Abuse
Judy Garland played Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz at the age of 17, instantly becoming a worldwide superstar. You may have known that. You may not know that thirty years later, at the young age of 47, Garland died of a barbiturate overdose. Other celebrities who died young at the hands of downers are guitarist Jimi Hendrix, actress Marilyn Monroe, actress/model Edie Sedgwick, and Brian Epstein, manager of the Beatles.
Yes, these deaths all occurred decades ago, and this is because barbiturate abuse has declined greatly since the 60s and 70s. The risks of barbiturate abuse, however, have not declined. They in fact have gotten riskier. This is because a person’s tolerance to barbiturates grows quicker than with most other drugs. Hence, many first-time users die from an overdose, similar to with heroin.
Perhaps scarier yet, there can be severe psychological damage from the abuse of downers. In fact, on average, 17% of barbiturate abusers will die by means of suicide. Due to the feelings of extreme relaxation and heightened euphoria that downers can bring, life without the drugs in the system tends to become dull and unstimulating.
A study published on ScienceDirect in 2007 analyzed twenty different commonly abused recreational drugs. Barbiturates ranked 5th for dependence, 4th for social harm done, and 3rd for physical harm done. Downers are not a joke, and no high is worth their risks, especially as you’ll see, the long-term risks.
What follows is only a list of the long-term effects of barbiturate abuse. The above-listed signs of abuse double as the short-term effects. We do deem it appropriate here to first list the slang terms for barbiturates in use today, since the term ‘barbiturate’ is slightly dated. Other names for downers include bluebirds, dolls, wall-bangers, yellows, goofballs, sleepers, and tooties.
The long-term risks of downer abuse include:
- Respiratory arrest
- Prolonged confusion
- Prolonged fatigue
- Increased body temperature
Recognizing Downer Abuse & Stepping In
Because the majority of barbiturates used today are still actively prescribed, at least on occasion, it’s important to recognize the difference between use and abuse. If someone you know suffers from acute migraines and was prescribed, say, Fioricet, he or she may experience euphoria, dizziness, drowsiness, shortness of breath, or even exhibit signs of minor dependence. This does not mean he or she is abusing.
However, if any of these signs are exaggerated, occur too often or for too long, or are accompanied by more serious signs, there may be abuse happening. Either way, if someone you know and care about is either definitely an abuser of downers, or you suspect may be, there are ways to step in, intervene, and begin the process of helping… and of course you can step in and help yourself too. As with most substances, but especially with downers, abuse is the step directly preceding addiction.
Abuse consists of using a substance to the point of intoxication. Addiction consists of repeating that process on a regular basis. An example of abuse would be someone taking 3 or more of their prescribed barbiturate in one sitting in order to obtain a high. An example of addiction would be someone doing that every night, or even most nights. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, published by the American Psychological Association, offers scientific criteria regarding telling abuse vs. addiction, for further reading.
Stepping in and helping someone who we know has a problem is never an easy thing to do. We love these people, and we do not want to hurt them, but we love them enough to know they are hurting themselves, and perhaps at a deadly rate. In such extreme cases, professional intervention is recommended. When it comes to simply trying to help someone you love, keep these tips in mind:
- Do not call the person an abuser. Try to start sentences with “I” and not “You”.
- Do not demand the person seeks help. Simply state your concerns.
- Encourage the possibility of help, but do not be forceful.
- Maintain the rapport you already have with the person. Acting differently will likely arouse unwanted suspicion.
Withdrawal from Barbiturates
Barbiturate withdrawal can be a grueling process – we’re not here to lie. After all, downers tend to become both physically and psychologically addictive, and rather quickly. Stopping prolonged abuse of downers suddenly and without the necessary professional help can be extremely dangerous, even fatal. Substance withdrawal is always dangerous to some degree, but it becomes particularly dangerous when unsupervised.
The bottom line is that any pain or discomfort felt along the path to recovery will be forgotten about once the bliss of sobriety and normal living comes rushing in. Any struggle at this point along the path is well worth the normalcy and stability of a life without barbiturate abuse.
What follows is a list of downer withdrawal symptoms, but please be aware that with help from us here at The Haven, not only can most of these be avoided, but all of them can be helped. As you read this list of symptoms, be aware that quitting without the assistance of professional treatment puts you much more at risk than quitting with the proper help.
Barbiturate withdrawal symptoms include:
- Excessive sweating
- Extreme fever
- Hypotension (dangerously low blood pressure)
- Tremors and/or seizures
- Suicidal thoughts and/or tendencies
- Cardiovascular collapse
Again, these symptoms are much more likely to occur, and be worse, if one is to stop barbiturate abuse without help. The Haven can provide all of the help necessary for a downer addict to begin the path to recovery, and the right way. The first step, as mentioned, is detoxification, commonly called detox, which SAFELY and effectively REMOVES all traces of barbiturates from the body. There may not be a manual to be able to tell abuse from addiction, but there is indeed a manual on how to provide detox, and we here at The Haven may well have written it.
About Our Barbiturate Detox Program
Barbiturate detoxification is necessary for anyone who has become addicted to any type of barbiturates, or ‘downers’. Barbiturates are one of the oldest forms of abused drugs, and patients can become addicted to their doctor-prescribed medications without even realizing it. When used in the medical field, they’re effective sedatives, hypnotics, anesthetics and anticonvulsants. When used incorrectly and irresponsibly, they can cause a multitude of health problems including blood-related complications, liver disease, and everything talked about above.
A Note to Those Seeking Barbiturate Detox
Barbiturates have four classifications: short, ultra-short, immediate and long-acting. Barbiturates that are abused over a prolonged period of time can cause serious side effects such as: memory lapses, mood swings, depression, poor judgment, and anger. A person who abuses barbiturates may lash out at a loved one in moments of irrational excitability, become prematurely irritable, succumb to depression and dark thoughts and suffer from an unhealthy lack of sleep. If you or a loved one exhibits these types of behaviors or warning signs, seek barbiturate detox immediately.
What to Expect During Barbiturate Detox
Due to the highly addictive make-up of barbiturates and how long they last in a person’s body after they stop taking them, barbiturate detox should never be attempted by anyone on their own. The best choice for achieving a complete and safe recovery from barbiturates addiction is treatment in our state-of-the-art detox facility. Besides being your safest option, we will also make the withdrawal symptoms much more comfortable and manageable, which in turn will also help you to “stay the course” of your barbiturate detox treatment. Do not attempt any rapid detox or ultra-rapid detox from barbiturates.
Barbiturates are not to be taken lightly, and if not prescribed to you, they’re not to be taken at all. We all know there are some pretty dangerous prescription pills on the market, especially opioids, from which America is currently suffering an epidemic. That being said, they stopped using barbiturates in favor of benzodiazepines. When big pharma itself stops using it, you know it’s a dangerous thing.
Another important factor to recognize is that many addicts of uppers, such as cocaine or meth, will take a downer in order to counteract the effects of the upper. We don’t even need to get into how dangerous that it, do we? Mixing drugs like that confuses the body so much that literally a heart attack and/or aneurism could occur. Please, for the love of all that is holy, NEVER mix ANY types of medications unless told to do so by your doctor.
If you or someone you know is addicted to barbiturates, today is the day to seek help, and The Haven is the place to begin.