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Barbiturates

barbituricacid-1Barbiturates are a class of dugs that range from Schedule II to Schedule IIIin the United States. This means it is illegal to manufacture, buy, possess, or distribute (sell, trade, or give) without a prescription.

Addictive Potential: High

Emergency Room Visits Yearly: Unkown

Mandatory Minimum Sentence: Unknown

Mechanism of Action: increase GABA at the GABAA receptor, block the AMPA receptor, at higher concentration they inhibit the Ca2+ dependent release of neurotransmitters

Overview:

Barbiturates are a class of drugs that act as central nervous system depressants, and by virtue of this they produce a wide spectrum of effects, from mild sedation to anesthesia. They are also effective as anxiolytics, hypnotics and as anticonvulsants. They have addiction potential, both physical and psychological. Barbiturates have now largely been replaced by benzodiazepines mainly because benzodiazepines are significantly less dangerous in overdose. Barbiturates are derivatives of barbituric acid. Like ethanol, barbiturates are intoxicating and produce similar effects during intoxication.

 

Barbiturates
Short Name Full Name
Allobarbital
5,5-diallylbarbiturate
Amobarbital
5-ethyl-5-isopentyl-barbiturate
Aprobarbital
5-allyl-5-isopropyl-barbiturate
Alphenal
5-allyl-5-phenyl-barbiturate
Barbital
5,5-diethylbarbiturate
Brallobarbital
5-allyl-5-(2-bromo-allyl)-barbiturate
Phenobarbital
5-phenyl-5-ethylbarbiturate

 

Side Effects and Adverse Reactions:

Older adults and pregnant women should consider the risks associated with barbiturate use. When a person ages, the body becomes less able to rid itself of barbiturates. As a result, people over the age of sixty-five are at higher risk of experiencing the harmful effects of barbiturates, including drug dependence and accidental overdose. When barbiturates are taken during pregnancy, the drug passes through the mother’s bloodstream to her fetus. After the baby is born, it may experience withdrawal symptoms and have trouble breathing. In addition, nursing mothers who take barbiturates may transmit the drug to their babies through breast milk.

Barbiturates are addictive. With regular use tolerance to the effects of barbiturates develops. This in turn may lead to a need for increasing doses of the drug to get the original desired pharmacological or therapeutic effect. Barbiturate use can lead to both psychological and physical dependence and the drugs have a high abuse liability.

The lethal dosage of barbiturates varies greatly with tolerance and from one individual to another. Even in inpatient settings, however, the development of tolerance is still a problem, as dangerous and unpleasant withdrawal symptoms can result when the drug is stopped after dependence has developed. Barbiturates in overdose with other CNS depressants for example, alcohol, opiates or benzodiazepines is even more dangerous due to additive CNS and respiratory depressant effects. In the case of benzodiazepines not only do they have additive effects, barbiturates also increase the binding affinity of the benzodiazepine binding site thus leading to an exagerated effect of benzodiazepines.

The negative effects of barbiturate intoxication include respiratory depression, lowered blood pressure, fatigue, fever, unusual excitement, irritability, dizziness, poor concentration, sedation, confusion, impaired coordination, impaired judgment, addiction, and respiratory arrest which may lead to death.

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