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Barbiturates (BAR) Drug Test

Barbiturates (BAR)

Barbiturates are a class of drugs that have been derived from barbituric acid. Barbituric acid itself has no therapeutic activity; however, its derivatives enhance the action of GABA, a neurotransmitter that inhibits the activity of nerve cells in the brain.

Barbiturates are central nervous system depressants. They are used therapeutically as sedatives, hypnotics, and anticonvulsants. Barbiturates are almost always taken orally as capsules or tablets. The effects resemble those of intoxication with alcohol. Chronic use of barbiturates leads to tolerance and physical dependence.

Short-acting Barbiturates taken at 400 mg/day for 2-3 months can produce a clinically significant degree of physical dependence. Withdrawal symptoms experienced during periods of drug abstinence can be severe enough to cause death. Only a small amount (less than 5%) of most Barbiturates are excreted unaltered in the urine.

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Barbiturates were first used in medicine in the early 1900s and became popular in the 1960s and 1970s as treatment for anxiety, insomnia, or seizure disorders. They evolved into recreational drugs that some people used to reduce inhibitions, decrease anxiety, and to treat unwanted side effects of illicit drugs.

Barbiturate use and abuse has declined dramatically since the 1970s mainly because a safer group of sedative-hypnotics called benzodiazepines is being prescribed. Benzodiazepines use has largely replaced barbiturates in the medical profession, with the exception of a few specific indications. Doctors are prescribing barbiturates less, and the illegal use of barbiturates has also substantially declined, although barbiturate about among teens may be on the rise compared with the early 1990s. Addition to barbiturates, however, is uncommon today.

There are many different barbiturates. The primary difference among then is how long their effects last. The effects of some of the long-acting drugs may last up to 2 days. Others are very short-acting. Their effects last only a few minutes.

Barbiturates can be injected into the veins or muscles, but they are usually taken in pill form. The street names of commonly abused barbiturates describe the desired effect of the drug or the color and markings on the actual pill.

  • Amobarbital - Downers, blue heavens, blue velvet, blue devils
  • Pentobarbital - Nembies, yellow jackets, abbots, Mexican yellows
  • Phenobarbital - Purple hearts, goof balls
  • Secobarbital - Reds, red birds, red devils, lilly, F-40s, pink ladies, seggy
  • Tuinal - Rainbows, reds and blues, tooies, double trouble, gorilla pills, F-66s

Abuse Symptoms - In general, barbiturates can be thought of as so-called brain relaxers. Alcohol is also a brain relaxer. The effects of barbiturates and alcohol are very similar, and when combined can be lethal. Pain medicines, sleeping pills, and antihistamines also cause symptoms similar to those of barbiturates. People who abuse barbiturates use them to obtain a "high", which is described as being similar to alcohol intoxication, or to counteract the effects of stimulant drugs.

  • In small doses, the person who abuses barbiturates feels drowsy, disinhibited, and intoxicated.
  • In higher doses, the user staggers as if drunk, develops slurred speech, and is confused.
  • At even higher doses, the person is unable to be aroused (coma) and may stop breathing. Death is possible

It is important to note that the difference between the dose causing drowsiness and one causing death may be small. In the medical profession, this difference is called a narrow therapeutic index, which is the ratio of a drug's toxic dose to its therapeutically desirable dose. This is the reason why barbiturates are dangerous.

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