Barbituates are in the drug class 'depressants' because of their effects on the central nervous system (CNS).

    They are also known as "downers" and, because they are a controlled (and often highly addictive) substance, most of them need a doctor's prescription to obtain. Barbiturates and other sedative/hypnotics are medically prescribed to treat sleeplessness, anxiety, and tension, and to help prevent or mitigate epileptic seizures. Because newer forms of drugs are safer, barbituates are not so common anymore.

    The physical effects of barbiturate use can include:

      * Sedation
      * Lessened attention span
      * Memory impairment; impaired thinking and judgment
      * Low blood pressure and slower heart rate
      * Fainting, nausea and vomiting
      * Impaired muscle coordination
      * Slurred speech
      * Stupor, coma
      * Death from depression of the respiratory centers in the brain

    Barbituates are particularly dangerous when they are combined with alcohol, and withdrawal symptoms range from severe to fatal.

    Some of the common 'barbies' are:
      -- amobarbital (e.g. Amytal),
      -- pen obarbital (e.g. Nembutal),
      -- phenobarbital (e.g. Luminal),
      -- secobarbital (e.g. Seconal), and
      -- the combination amobarbital-secobarbital (e.g. Tuinal).

    Barbies are common 'street drugs' because they give a pleasurable 'high,' and they are an inexpensive, temporary substitute for 'heavier' drugs.

    The duration of the effects of barbiturates can range from 2 - 3 hours for the shorter-acting forms, to as long as 6 - 10 hours for the longer-acting drugs. Tolerance (larger and larger doses of the drug are required to obtain the same effect), as well as psychological and physical dependence are likely to occur with continued use.

    If you answer 'yes' to even one of the following questions, you may have a problem with barbituates.

    * Do you use 'barbies' regularly?
    * Do you think about how and when you’re going to use them again?
    * Is your work, family, or school performance affected?
    * Are you having problems with family and friends?
    * Are you spending more on drugs than you can afford?
    * Do you use other drugs, or alcohol, in addition to barbiturates?
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