Barbiturates (BAR)

What is it?

Barbiturates is a class of drugs that are most commonly used in prescription for anxiety and sleeping problems.[1][3] It’s commonly associated with tranquillizers and benzodiazipines (BZO).[1][3] Its prescription and recreational usage has decreased since the 1970’s because the safer BZOs have begun to replace its usage.[3] However, some surveys have been suggesting that abuse has increased over the past 10 years.[3]

Some barbiturates that are still in prescription usage include:

  • Amytal sodium (Amobarbital or Amytal)
  • Butisol sodium
  • Luminal
  • Nembutal sodium (Pentobarbital)
  • Phenobarbital
  • Seconal sodium (Secobarbital)[1][2][3]

Common names for barbiturates are:

  • Tranks
  • Barbs
  • Yellow jackets
  • Block blusters
  • Birds
  • Red devils

Barbiturates can be separated by how long their effects last. Short acting barbiturates last only a few minutes whereas long acting barbiturates can last up to two days.[3]


What are the health risks?

An important note on these health risks or symptoms of barbiturates is that even small doses are potentially deadly, as their therapeutic range is quite narrow.[3] This means that the difference between a dose that causes sleepiness and a dose that causes death is very small. In addition, barbiturates can become addictive after about a month of using.[3]


Short Term Symptoms

Short term symptoms of barbiturates are very similar to alcohols, as both are considered “brain relaxers”.[3] They include:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Relaxation
  • Drowsiness/fatigue
  • Impaired coordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Loss of inhibition
  • Impaired judgment
  • Paranoia
  • Irregular breathing[1]

Long Term Effects

  • Chronic tiredness/slowed reflexes
  • Vision problems
  • Mood swings
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Liver damage
  • Respiratory depression
  • Sexual dysfunction[1]



How is it used?

Barbiturates are typically taken in pill form, though they can also be injected into veins and muscles.[3]