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News & Notes


An Introduction

“Barbituric acid was first synthesized November 27, 1864, by German chemist Adolf Von Baeyer. This was done by condensing urea (an animal waste product) with diethyl malonate (an ester derived from the acid of apples). It was not until the 1950's that the behavioral disturbances and physical dependence potential of barbiturates became recognized.” (1)

Barbiturates are sometimes called “downers”, “yellow jackets”, “reds”, “blues”, “Amy's”, “rainbows” “Skittles” and/or “poppers”. They are used as a muscle relaxer, sleep aids, anxiety, general anesthesia, migraines, seizures, and epilepsy. “Barbiturates, opioids, and sedative drugs might work well for an individual headache, but when used repeatedly over decades, they can paradoxically worsen the headache disorder, contribute to disability, and even lead to additional problems.” (2)

“Barbiturates are in the group of medicines known as central nervous system depressants (CNS). Also known as sedative-hypnotic drugs, barbiturates make people very relaxed, calm, and sleepy. These drugs are sometimes used to help patients relax before surgery. Some may also be used to control seizures (convulsions). Although barbiturates have been used to treat nervousness and sleep problems, they have generally been replaced by other medicines for these purposes. These medicines may become habit forming and should not be used to relieve everyday anxiety tension or to treat sleeplessness over long periods.” (3)

“Addiction experts in psychiatry, chemistry, pharmacology, forensic science, epidemiology, and the police and legal services engaged in delphic analysis regarding 20 popular recreational drugs. Barbiturates were ranked 5th in dependence, 3rd in harm, and 4th in social harm.” (4)

“There are many different barbiturates. The primary difference among them is how long their effects last. The effects of some of the long-acting drugs may last up to two 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.” (5)

Unfortunately, these drugs can be very dangerous because the dose must be exact; even a little too much can cause coma or death. Barbiturates become tolerant to one’s body quickly, hence, they become overused and addictive very easily. Once barbiturates are used on a regular basis, it’s deadly to quit them “cold turkey”.







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