Luminal (Phenobarbital) Prescription Facts

Phenobarbital is a generic prescription barbiturate drug that is also sold under the brand name Luminal. Luminal is also classified as a sedative-hypnotic drug. As with other barbiturates, this drug has a calming effect on brain activity and is a central nervous system depressant. Luminal is primarily given to patients to control and reduce seizures as it inhibits electrical activity in the brain that causes seizures. Luminal can be dispensed in tablet form or as a liquid. In some cases, Luminal may be prescribed to treat anxiety and insomnia; however, it’s only prescribed in the short-term. When someone takes Luminal for seizures, they take it once daily and they should make sure they don’t miss a dose. When used to treat seizures, there should be a steady amount of Luminal in the blood. In some cases, doctors will prescribe daily doses of Luminal to be taken throughout the day.

Most Commonly Abused Barbiturates

There was a time when barbiturates were commonly prescribed drugs. These drugs were used to treat insomnia, anxiety and a host of other conditions. However, it became known that barbiturates had serious side effects. Many people who took these drugs eventually suffered addiction, dependence and even overdose. As a result, barbiturates are no longer commonly prescribed. They have largely been replaced with benzodiazepine drugs -which are considered to be safer. Luminal is one barbiturate that is still prescribed and, like all drugs that belong to this class, it has a potential for abuse. Other barbiturates that are often abused include Amytal (amobarbital), Nembutal (pentobarbital) and Seconal (secobarbital).

How Luminal Affects the Brain and Body

As a central nervous system depressant, Luminal it slows thinking and essential functions like breathing and the heart rate. Luminal affects GABA in the brain, which is why it has this calming, slowing effect. When someone takes Luminal, particularly in a high dose, they may seem to be very impaired or intoxicated. Luminal causes slurred speech, problems with coordination and drowsiness. In some cases, Luminal can slow the central nervous system so much that breathing stops altogether, causing a potentially fatal overdose. Over time, someone who uses Luminal may experience liver problems, depression, changes in mood and thinking, and physical dependence.

Half-Life of Luminal

When someone takes Luminal, the tablet form of the drug will usually take effect within 30 to 60 minutes. The effects of the drug last for anywhere from 5 to 12 hours. How long Luminal lasts depends on the individual and the amount of the dose. The half-life of Luminal refers to how long it takes the body to remove half of a dose of the drug. Because Luminal is a habit-forming drug, this information is important to know. By knowing the half-life of Luminal, someone can determine when withdrawal symptoms could occur. Knowing the half-life of Luminal can also help prevent an overdose. The half-life in adults is, on average 79 hours. This makes Luminal a long-acting drug.

Factors That Influence How Long Luminal Stays in Your System

While the average half-life of Luminal is around 79 hours, different factors can affect the body’s elimination time. One of the biggest factors is age. It takes most older people longer to eliminate drugs from their body than younger people. Overall health and liver function are also relevant in determining how long a drug remains in the system. Someone with existing health issues or impaired liver function will likely take longer to metabolize a dose of Luminal than someone who is healthy. If someone takes multiple medications or drugs at the same time as Luminal, it will also take them longer to eliminate a dose of this medication as well.

How Long Does Luminal Stay in Your System?

Because Luminal is a long-acting barbiturate, it can stay in the body for up to 140 hours. It could take several days for a dose of Luminal to leave the system. Luminal can be detected in a urine test for anywhere from two to three weeks. If someone were to take a urine drug test after using Luminal within three weeks, it would most likely show a positive result for barbiturates. It’s estimated that phenobarbital can be detected in blood tests for up to a week, and for up to 90 days in hair tests.

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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.