Nembutal Addiction and Treatment Options

Nembutal falls into the barbiturate class of prescription medications. These medications control sleep disturbances and help to control anxiety. Nembutal also works to slow down the person’s breathing, which can become a risk if the person begins to take too much over time. Nembutal has also become popular as a street drug, sometimes used by those who struggle with drug use.

Nembutal is also known as pentobarbital sodium, which is a Schedule II substance, according to RxList.

What Is Nembutal?

When used at recommended doses, this medication provides a calming and relaxing effect to users, according to George Mason University. It also helps them to fall asleep if they are experiencing difficulty achieving a normal sleep state. Nembutal slows heart and breathing rates as well as reflexes.

Abuse Potential

Like all barbiturates, Nembutal is highly addictive. As a result, the drug is generally only prescribed on a short-term basis. If used as prescribed, under medical supervision, the medication can be helpful for its intended purposes. If used outside the parameters of a prescription, addiction can quickly develop.

According to New Mexico State University, those who use Nembutal can quickly develop a tolerance to the medication, needing more and more of it over time to feel the same effects. As people attempt to still feel the pleasurable affects of the drug, they may begin to increase the dosage or the frequency with which they take the medication, taking it outside the scope of their prescription.

In addition, users may begin to alter the medication in an effort to feel its effects more quickly or more intensely. Some users may crush the pills and then swallow the powder, as this subverts the time-release element. Others may snort the crushed pills, or mix the crushed pills with water an then inject the mixture. Altering the medication in any way is a clear sign of abuse.

Other users may mix the medication with other substances of abuse, particularly alcohol. When Nembutal is used in combination with alcohol, serious health effects can occur. Like Nembutal, alcohol is a central nervous system depressant; when the two are used at the same time, a person’s breathing may slow down even more, which can lead to respiratory arrest and even death.

Signs of Nembutal Abuse

Because Nembutal is a prescription medication, some may feel like it’s safer to use the drug recreationally than other street drugs, like cocaine or heroin. Prescription drugs, when used recreationally or outside the parameters of the prescription, can be just as dangerous as illegal drugs.

Once a person begins abusing Nembutal, a dependency can form very quickly. Once dependency takes hold, addiction is likely in place. According to Kansas State University, some indicators that addiction is present include:

  • Changes in personality and moods
  • Taking more Nembutal than has been prescribed
  • Using the medication once the medical condition has resolved itself
  • Withdrawing from social activities
  • Spending more time getting and using the drug
  • Changes in appearance and habits
  • Neglecting daily responsibilities
  • Becoming increasingly forgetful
  • Becoming more sensitive to lights and sounds
  • Becoming defensive when asked about use of the medication
  • Seeing multiple doctors in an effort to get multiple prescriptions for Nembutal
  • Losing prescriptions and asking for replacements

If addiction is suspected, professional help is needed. Nembutal withdrawal requires medical detox with the help of supervising physicians. In addition, comprehensive addiction treatment should follow detox.

As a barbiturate, Nembutal can cause serious physical dependence. As a result, medical detox is needed to safely wean off the drug. If a person attempts to stop taking the drug suddenly, life-threatening withdrawal symptoms, including seizures, may develop.

Other withdrawal symptoms from Nembutal include:

  • Anxiety
  • Twitching muscles
  • Hand and finger tremors
  • Increasing weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Visual disturbances
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Insomnia
  • Low blood pressure

Within 16 hours of the last dose of the drug, the user may develop convulsions and delirium. These symptoms may last up to five days after suddenly stopping the drug. Since these symptoms are serious, suddenly stopping use is not recommended without direct medical supervision.

With medical detox, clients are continually monitored by medical professionals, ensuring safety throughout the withdrawal process. Medications may be prescribed to ease withdrawal symptoms and address specific symptoms. Therapy may also begin during the detox process.

Oftentimes, doctors employ a tapering approach during Nembutal detox. This means that the dosage of the medication, or another long-acting benzodiazepine, is gradually lowered over time. This eases the person through withdrawal, allowing the body to grow accustomed to the progressively lower dosages. As a result, withdrawal symptoms and cravings for the drug are minimized.

Complete Recovery

Detox is not addiction treatment on its own. It must be part of a larger addiction treatment program that includes therapy. Generally, an addiction treatment center will start the intake process with an assessment that will determine the extent of the addiction as well as any co-occurring medical or mental health issues.

Then, the treatment team will develop a comprehensive treatment plan that addresses all existing issues. Treatment should always be tailored to the specific needs of each individual who needs help; there is no one-size-fits-all approach to addiction recovery. The treatment plan will likely change and evolve as the person progresses through recovery, and the individual client should have input into that treatment plan.

Oftentimes, various therapies are used, depending on the specific circumstances. If the person has any co-occurring mental health issues, such as anxiety or depression, these must also be addressed in treatment. If only the addiction and substance abuse issues are addressed without dealing with co-occurring mental health issues, relapse is more likely.

Upon conclusion of a structured program, an aftercare plan should be developed. Addiction cannot be “cured.” It is a chronic disorder that must be managed on an ongoing basis. As a result, some form of aftercare is often needed for life, or at the very least for years following the completion of rehab.

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Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff, American Addiction Centers
The editorial staff of Greenhouse Treatment Center is comprised of addiction content experts from American Addiction Centers. Our editors and medical reviewers have over a decade of cumulative experience in medical content editing and have reviewed... Read More