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Phenobarbital Addiction

What is Phenobarbital Addiction?

Phenobarbital, like all barbiturates, has a potential for abuse. Phenobarbital is part of a class of barbiturates known as hypnotics/anticonvulsants.

The drug controls abnormal electrical brain activity to help reduce seizures and may improve anxiety and insomnia when used short-term. Sometimes, phenobarbital is used to prevent withdrawal symptoms in those dependent on other barbiturate medications and who want to stop using their medications. Withdrawing from benzodiazepines and barbiturates abruptly may cause tremors and seizures, which can be prevented when these medications are replaced with phenobarbital. However, phenobarbital is a Schedule IV drug that carries a risk for dependence and addiction and should be used only as directed by a medical professional.

If you are one of the many people struggling with phenobarbital abuse, you need to seek treatment, and your best option will be inpatient treatment.

Risks of Phenobarbital Addiction

Phenobarbital addiction can lessen one’s overall quality of life, and lead to decreased performance at work or school, relationship problems, financial hardship, and other serious problems. But those who need help recovering from phenobarbital addiction can receive treatment to improve their overall health, achieve sobriety, and lower the risk for complications including death.

Phenobarbital abuse carries dangerous long-term side effects, including:

  • The development of depression and other mental health disorders
  • Inability to stay alert
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Confusion
  • Cognitive decline
  • Insomnia
  • Aggression
  • Increased risk of cancer, stroke, and heart attack
  • Delusional beliefs
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Early death

Side Effects of Phenobarbital Addiction

Phenobarbital is a central nervous system depressant used to treat anxiety, seizures, and insomnia. When used short-term for legitimate medical reasons, the drug can induce feelings of relaxation and drowsiness to calm anxiety and help people fall asleep. But when abused or used long-term, phenobarbital offers a range of adverse side effects that can increase the risk for serious health problems, including coma and death.

Phenobarbital is highly addictive and can slow down all the body’s functions — including respiratory function and brain function that can lead to stopped breathing and brain death, respectively.

Short-term effects of phenobarbital abuse:

  • Euphoria
  • Reduced inhibition
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Slowed breathing
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Impaired thinking
  • Dizziness
  • Repetitive, uncontrolled eye movements
  • Coma
  • Overdose

Signs of Phenobarbital Addiction

People who abuse phenobarbital and who use the drug regularly can develop a tolerance, and need higher amounts to achieve its effects. Increased tolerance to phenobarbital can lead to physical dependence, which is when people need a certain amount of the drug to avoid experiencing withdrawal symptoms like vomiting, shaking, and seizures. Dependence can then lead to phenobarbital addiction, which is characterized by compulsive behaviors that influence people to continue using the drug despite negative consequences.

People who abuse phenobarbital often exhibit symptoms and behaviors similar to those who are intoxicated by alcohol.

Common signs of phenobarbital abuse:

  • Agitation
  • Depression
  • Impaired attention span
  • Memory loss
  • Drowsiness
  • Slurred speech
  • Slowed breathing
  • Poor coordination
  • Poor judgment
  • Aggressiveness
  • Irritability
  • Lethargy
  • Tolerance
  • Dependence
  • Withdrawal symptoms upon quitting phenobarbital

Common behaviors associated with phenobarbital addiction:

  • Using phenobarbital without a valid medical prescription
  • Appearing intoxicated without having consumed any alcohol
  • A decline in performance at work or school
  • Using higher amounts of phenobarbital over time
  • Inability to stop using phenobarbital despite numerous attempts to quit
  • Devoting excess time to obtaining, using, and recovering from the drug
  • Powerful urges to use the drug
  • Loss of interest in favorite hobbies and activities
  • Continued use of phenobarbital knowing it may lead to negative consequences

What to do if Someone You Love is Abusing Phenobarbital?

Phenobarbital withdrawal may trigger sedative withdrawal syndrome, which is treated through tapering off of the medication and may require hospitalization. To avoid severe withdrawal symptoms and to make sure that the tapering proceeds in a specific, medical fashion, your loved one needs total oversight by a staff of professionals. Phenobarbital addicts will need the round-the-clock care that is only available in inpatient programs.

Additionally, experts indicate that long-term treatment of phenobarbital addiction requires counseling with an addiction-treatment professional. This intensive regimen of therapy and counseling works better in an inpatient setting, where you face fewer interruptions and are able to focus better.

Treatment Options Available for Phenobarbital Addiction

A detox program can get you through withdrawal symptoms, but it can’t erase the cravings caused by physical and psychological dependence. These will continue for some time. They will make you more likely to relapse. One of the benefits of residential treatment is that your residence has a strict policy against drugs and alcohol. You will not have any temptation or options to use.

Plus, you will be separated from stressors that make you want to use, like broken relationships, professional complication, and even settings and people who make you remember using. The change of setting can reduce your stress levels and allow you to devote your full attention to your recovery.

If you feel that you need even more distance from your stressors, you may consider going to an inpatient rehab located in another state. It will certainly provide you with a larger shield from your former life. However, it may prove to be more expensive depending on the method of funding you plan to use. That’s worth considering.

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