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Barbiturate Abuse


Barbiturate abuse means you take too much of this medicine, or take it even though you are not supposed to. Barbiturates are medicines used to treat insomnia, anxiety, and seizures. Barbiturates are most often taken as a pill, but may also be injected. They are also called downers or are described by the color of the pill.


Return to the emergency department if:

  • You have chest pain, sweating, or breathing problems.
  • You feel like hurting or killing yourself or someone else.
  • You pass out or have a seizure.
  • You have hallucinations.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You cannot fight the need to take barbiturates.
  • You feel you cannot cope with your problems.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


  • Your dose will be gradually decreased by your healthcare provider to help prevent withdrawal symptoms.
  • Antianxiety medicine: This medicine may be given to decrease anxiety and help you feel calm and relaxed.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him of her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your doctor as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.


  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) may help you change your thinking and behavior. It can help you manage depression and anxiety caused by barbiturate abuse. CBT can help you learn good coping skills and ways to manage stress. CBT can be done with you and a talk therapist or in a group with others.
  • Motivational enhancement therapy may help you change your behavior and stop barbiturate abuse. A therapist or counselor helps motivate you and set goals.
  • Twelve-step facilitation (TSF) is a short, structured approach to reach early recovery from drug abuse. It is done one-to-one in 12 to 15 sessions. Goals of the program include accepting that you have a problem that you need to overcome, and being willing to take certain steps to overcome it.

Manage barbiturate abuse:

  • Be honest and open with family and close friends. Ask for help.
  • Stay active.
  • Join a support group and go to the meetings.
  • Stay away from people who use and abuse barbiturates.
  • If you use barbiturates, do not drink alcohol. This may be life-threatening.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Barbiturate Abuse (Aftercare Instructions)

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Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.