Pentobarbital is a prescription drug and a short-acting barbiturate that is used in medical environments for pre-surgery sedation and for the emergency treatment of seizures. It is also prescribed by doctors for short-term relief of insomnia. In rare cases, Pentobarbital has also been used for executions, but this specific use of the drug is highly controversial.
Pentobarbital works by slowing the activity in the brain and nervous system by increasing the levels of a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which provides a calming effect. When abused or taken in a manner other than prescribed, pentobarbital can cause life-threatening physical effects.
Pentobarbital may be sold under the brand names Nembutal, Pentosol, Sopental, or Repocal, and it comes in tablet, capsule, liquid, and powder form. It is a highly addictive and dangerous drug, especially when it is taken with other depressants like alcohol or narcotics.
The following terms are street names or slang for Pentobarbital:
- Yellow jackets
Due to its addictive nature, pentobarbital is meant to be used on a short-term basis. Unfortunately, it is frequently abused, which leads to dependence, addiction, and severe withdrawal symptoms. Fatal overdoses of pentobarbital are also common because it is difficult to determine an appropriate dose and very easy to exceed it.
Despite the dangers and risks associated with pentobarbital abuse, results from the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that 18.7 million people (or 6.9 percent of the population) abused prescription drugs like pentobarbital.
Many people who abuse pentobarbital either swallow tablets or inject the liquid form of the drug. Either use of the drug is very dangerous, especially when combined with other addictive substances and depressants like alcohol. It may not always be clear when a person is abusing pentobarbital, but if you are suspicious, you can look for some of the common physical signs and effects of abuse listed below.
Overcoming pentobarbital addiction is possible.
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Short-term effects of pentobarbital abuse may include:
- Very little or no urination
- Slowed reflexes and thinking
- Memory and judgment impairment
- Weak, shallow breathing
- Night terrors
Long-term effects of pentobarbital abuse may include:
- Physical dependence
- Memory loss
- Respiratory depression
- Kidney damage
- Liver damage
If a person has overdosed on a barbiturate such as pentobarbital, he or she may experience some of the following physical effects:
- Clammy skin
- Shallow breathing
- Dilated pupils
- Weak or rapid pulse
- Slurred speech
- Heart failure
If a person is addicted to pentobarbital, chances are, many aspects of their personal and professional lives, finances, and relationships will be affected. Many times, there are clear signs that indicate an addiction problem. These signs may include:
- Severe mood swings
- Lack of interest in hobbies and activities typically enjoyed
- Sudden changes in hygiene and appearance
- Isolating from friends and family
- Unusual behaviors and clumsiness
- Sudden financial problems or homelessness
- Acting extremely drunk when little or no alcohol has been consumed
- Extreme changes in eating habits
A person may be more at risk of developing pentobarbital addiction if he or she has a mental disorder or has previously struggled with substance abuse problems. Other factors may increase a person’s risk of becoming addicted such as genetics, childhood physical or sexual abuse and/or neglect, lack of parental involvement, or association with drug-using peers, among many others.
If a person is addicted to pentobarbital and then suddenly stops using it, he or she may experience severe or even life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. It’s important to seek professional detox treatment to stop using pentobarbital, as detox can be extremely dangerous.
Although the withdrawal experience will vary from person to person, some of the most common physical and mental symptoms of withdrawal include:
- Muscle twitching
- Shaky hands and fingers
- Rage/violent behavior
- Nausea and vomiting
Detoxing from pentobarbital at home is never recommended. Medically-assisted detox in a safe and monitored detox center has many benefits if a person is addicted to pentobarbital. It decreases the likelihood of relapse, ensures the physical safety of the client, decreases the severity of uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, and addresses emotional responses to the detox process.
There are many different factors that may influence a person’s withdrawal experience, so no two people will have exactly the same symptoms or timeline of events. Regardless, here is an approximate timeline for what you can expect during pentobarbital withdrawal.
|8-12 hours after the last dose:||Initial signs of withdrawal may begin to appear during this time.|
|1-3 days after the last dose:||During the first three days of pentobarbital, the withdrawal symptoms will be the most intense. These may include increased heart rate, mood swings, insomnia, nausea, vomiting, and seizures.|
|4-7 days after the last dose:||Withdrawal symptoms typically linger for the remainder of the first week. Insomnia, increased heart rate, cravings, and continued withdrawal symptoms may cause irritability and mood swings during this time. Some people also experience psychosis. Symptoms like depression, mood swings, and insomnia may continue after the first week but will decrease in intensity over time.|
After completing pentobarbital detox, a person may choose to continue their addiction treatment with long-term drug rehab. Drug rehab offers a safe, drug-free place where clients can attend individual and group therapy, participate in 12-step support groups, and meet with counselors and recovery specialists on a regular basis.
In rehab, clients will address the underlying causes of their drug addiction and learn how to use healthy coping skills to deal with triggers, cravings, and high-risk situations. These primary objectives of drug rehab are achieved with educational lectures, behavioral therapy, group and family therapy, 12-step program work and additional specialized therapies like art therapy or animal-assisted therapy.
Many drug rehab programs last for the duration of 30 days, but the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) recommends treatment last 90 days or longer for the most effective and lasting results.
Inpatient Drug Rehab vs. Outpatient Drug Rehab
There are two main types of drug rehab: inpatient rehab and outpatient rehab. If enrolled in an inpatient drug rehab, clients live on-site at the rehab center with their peers in recovery. These programs are typically gender-specific and provide structured, safe, and sober living environments for adults in recovery. While enrolled, clients follow a daily schedule comprised of group and individual sessions, meal time, personal time, exercise time, group activities, and more. Clients have a curfew but may be awarded passes to leave the property and visit family.
An outpatient drug rehab program provides clients with a little bit more flexibility, as they are not required to live on-site at the addiction treatment center. Instead, the rehab program is comprised of several weeks or months of group sessions that are hosted at a secure and safe location.
Inpatient rehab is not necessarily better or more effective than outpatient rehab, but one or the other may better suit your treatment needs or the needs of a loved one. You may also want to consider the cost of each option, as your health insurance may or may not cover a portion or all of rehab.
The overall cost of drug rehab will vary depending on the type of program, its duration, location, and your insurance benefits coverage. Other payment options may include Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs), third-party private loans, or out-of-pocket payments.
Upon completion of drug rehab, some individuals in recovery may continue their treatment with continued care options like sober living and aftercare programs. These treatment programs are designed to help people in recovery transition from a life of addiction into a life of sobriety.
Sober Living Programs
Sober living homes are ideal for people who have already completed rehab but who need continued support to maintain their sobriety before living independently. Sober living homes (also referred to as ¾ houses or transitional homes) are structured group homes that house people in recovery.
Residents must adhere to the rules that are set forth by their sober living community. These may include submitting to regular drug and alcohol testing, maintaining a clean living environment, staying sober, and attending regular AA or NA group meetings. Many sober living homes also provide recovery support services such as a tiered sober living program, one-on-one mentorships, employment, education, and volunteer assistance, and personal monitoring programs.
The cost of a sober living program varies greatly depending on its location, the type of sober living home, the amenities offered, and any additional programming such as IOP or individual counseling sessions.
Aftercare programs are also ideal for clients who have already completed rehab, but this type of program is less structured than a sober living program and clients have the freedom to live in an apartment or a home of their own.
Aftercare programs are designed to support rehab alumni who have varying amounts of sobriety experience, but who still need regular support and sobriety check-ins. Aftercare is facilitated by an addiction counselor and is comprised of weekly group meetings in which clients discuss current issues related to their sobriety, provide feedback and encouragement, and weigh in on group discussions.
Each group session serves as a safe and supportive environment in which clients can be open and honest about their struggles and successes as they learn to navigate a life of sobriety.
Group meetings are facilitated by licensed counselors and are designed to help clients overcome the ongoing obstacles of early sobriety. Recovery from cocaine addiction is a lifelong process and will require daily effort to maintain continued sobriety.
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