Barbiturate is a medication that induces relaxation and sleepiness. Individuals who are grappling with a barbiturate addiction are at an increased risk of an overdose. If left untreated, a barbiturate overdose can be fatal.

If you’re experiencing symptoms of a barbiturate overdose, call 911 immediately. You can also contact the American Association of Poison Control Centers at 800-222-1222. A representative of the poison control center can advise you on how to deal with an overdose.

Barbiturate Overdose Symptoms

A barbiturate overdose occurs when someone takes too much of the medication. During an overdose, the body fails to metabolize the substance fast enough. When an overdose takes place, a person’s brain functioning decreases and they can possibly fall into a coma.

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, barbiturate overdose symptoms can include:

  • Lack of coordination
  • Difficulty thinking
  • Shallow breathing
  • Slurred speech
  • Drowsiness
  • Coma

Overdosing on barbiturates can also lead to accidental falls that can result in injuries to the head, neck or spine. A barbiturate overdose can also cause severe muscle damage, long-term kidney problems and miscarriage in pregnant women.

What To Do During a Barbiturate Overdose

An overdose should be treated as a medical emergency. Treating a barbiturate overdose as quickly as possible increases the likelihood of a full recovery.

  • Call 911 immediately.
  • Check to see if the individual is breathing. If breathing has stopped, an emergency service worker should proceed with CPR or advise CPR processes if emergency personnel are not available.
  • Once breathing or if already breathing, lay the individual on their side to avoid aspiration and asphyxiation.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drug overdoses kill more Americans than do car crashes or firearms. Barbiturates are closely associated with overdoses because these drugs are highly addictive.

Barbiturate Overdose Death

The U.S. National Library of Medicine estimates that about 1 in 10 individuals who experience a barbiturate overdose die, with many deaths related to heart or lung problems. People can also die of lingering complications caused by a barbiturate overdose, like pneumonia.

Americans of all backgrounds can experience a barbiturate overdose. Celebrities are not impervious to the effects of an overdose, and many Hollywood stars have experienced a barbiturate addiction or overdose.

Many celebrities have dealt with a barbiturate overdose, including:

  • Jimi Hendrix
  • Marilyn Monroe
  • Judy Garland
  • Alan Wilson
  • Edie Sedgwick

The high potential for addiction and overdose has led many medical experts to prescribe benzodiazepines instead of barbiturates. Benzodiazepines treat anxiety and other medical conditions. While still addictive, benzodiazepines are widely viewed as less dangerous than barbiturates.

Barbiturate Overdose Treatment

At the hospital, a medical professional might incorporate several procedures when treating someone who has overdosed on barbiturates. Barbiturate overdose treatment could include the use of:

  • Medicines to treat symptoms
  • A breathing machine to supply oxygen
  • Intravenous fluids
  • Activated charcoal, through a tube through the nose into the stomach or by mouth

To prevent a barbiturate overdose, take all medications as prescribed by a health care professional. If you no longer experience the medical benefits of barbiturates, tell your doctor and they can talk to you about alternative options.

A barbiturate overdose is a telltale sign of a barbiturate addiction. People with a substance use disorder put themselves at risk for several physical and psychological health problems. Many people experiencing a barbiturate addiction also deal with a mental health problem, like depression.

If you’re simultaneously dealing with a substance use and mental health disorder, treatment may be needed. The Recovery Village operates several treatment centers throughout the United States. Each facility has trained medical experts who cater treatment plans to fit your specific needs. To learn more about the importance of treatment, contact The Recovery Village today.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.