Barbiturates/Uses and Abuses
Barbiturates can be used for both good and bad intentions. Widely used and highly effective as a sedative/hypnotic, barbiturates occupy a leading position in a physician’s armamentarium of drugs. Barbiturates are the most commonly-found drugs in the blood of patients who have committed suicide. The federal government estimates that more than one million Americans use barbiturates for non-medical purposes. All barbiturates can be classified on the basis of how quickly and how long they act in the human body. Phenobarbital is the classic example of a long-acting barbiturate, and pentobarbital and secobarbital are the classic short-acting. Sedation with barbiturates typically require a dose of 15 mg and is useful in cases of anxiety or to combat the excitatory effects of amphetamines. Synergism of barbiturates with alcohol is potentially so dangerous that the combination should be avoided at all costs. Individuals who take daily or near-daily doses of barbiturates over a period of time, will develop a tolerance to all barbiturates.