Barbiturates are also a popular “street” drug. Commonly abused barbiturates include amobarbital (Amytal), pentobarbital (Nembutal), and secobarbital (Seconal). These drugs account for approximately one-third of all reported drug-related deaths, including suicides and accidental drug poisonings. Accidental deaths may occur when a user takes one dose, becomes confused, and unintentionally takes an additional or larger dose.
Using barbiturates in conjunction with alcohol is especially dangerous; because alcohol is also a CNS (central nervous system) depressant, the effects aremultiplied and the risk of death increases. Overdose deaths are more frequent when alcohol and barbiturates are mixed, whether accidentally or deliberately.
The effects of barbiturates are much like the effects of alcohol. Small amounts produce calmness and relax muscles. Larger doses cause slurred speech, staggering, and poor judgement. High doses can cause unconsciousness and death.
Effects of prescribed doses of short-acting barbiturates such as secobarbital generally last 4 – 6 hours while effects from phenobarbital, a longer-acting barbiturate will last from 8 -12 hours.
When taken, barbiturates slow down CNS activities such as heartbeat, breathing, brain activities and reflexes. Because physical and mental responses are slowed down, it is dangerous for users to drive a car or operate machinery while under the influence of this drug. Other physical effects of barbiturates use include difficulty in breathing, lethargy, allergic reactions, nausea, and dizziness.