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Symptoms of Barbiturate Addiction

The effects of barbiturates are far reaching and can become debilitating. Between physical and psychological symptoms, barbiturate addiction may be relatively rare- only nine percent of the US population- but it is a severe condition requiring medical attention to address and remedy.

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Physical Symptoms of Barbiturate Addiction

Physical Symptoms of Barbiturate Addiction

Physically, barbiturate abuse is devastating. Gangrene and skin abscesses spread among those who shared needles for barbiturate injections. Barbiturate addiction causes damage and deterioration to major internal organs such as the brain, lungs, liver, and heart as well as physical symptoms that interfere with daily living.

In the Lungs

The lungs are not an organ most would consider when contemplating the damage non-smoked substances would cause. Barbiturates interact with the central nervous system, therefore affecting lung functions. Use of barbiturates causes an inflammation in the airways, causing breathing difficulties. Build up of fluid in the lungs can lead to bronchitis and pneumonia as well as other lung infections. Those with compromised immune systems are especially susceptible to these complications and if untreated they can prove life-threatening. Inflammation of the airways can also aggravate previously existing conditions such as asthma and COPD.

In the Liver

Since the liver is responsible for purging the body of toxins and waste, damage to the liver is serious and should be treated as such. Barbiturates overwhelm the liver as they filter from one’s body. This may worsen existing liver damage or cause hepatitis, liver failure, and bile obstruction. If allowed to advance without medical intervention, liver damage may become permanent and require surgeries to extract large portions of the organ or remove it completely. In cases of complete liver failure, dialysis treatments are required to prevent toxins from collecting in the body. Dialysis can be painful and takes hours of commitment several times a week, sometimes daily. Organ transplant may become necessary, but waiting lists are notoriously long and cannot guarantee against organ rejection- which can also be deadly.

In the Brain

In the Brain

As a chemical that interacts directly with the central nervous system, barbiturate addiction is especially evident in the damage it causes to the brain and associated systems. Prolonged use of barbiturates causes physical changes in the GABA neurotransmitters as compared to non-users. Slower brain functions, hallucinations, delusions, and mood disorders are just a few adverse effects of barbiturate abuse. Damage to the GABA neurotransmitters can cause a reduction in REM sleep, which is essential to recharging the brain in preparation for the next day. Changes in alertness, depression and irritability, as well as memory problems are common among those with barbiturate addiction. Damages caused to the central nervous system can cause impotence in men, seizures, and muscular tics. Other symptoms of brain damage caused by barbiturates include:

  • Decreased attention spans
  • Impairment of physical coordination
  • Irregular reflexes
  • Inability to complete tasks requiring sustained performance
  • Permanent slurred speech
  • Dizziness

Psychological and Social Symptoms of Barbiturate Addiction

Psychological and Social Symptoms of Barbiturate Addiction

Barbiturate abuse is often coupled with mental illness, as users self-medicate to alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression. Though barbiturates were among the first medications available for people suffering from epileptic seizures, schizophrenia or severe mood disorders, they are rarely prescribed today. If prescribed, the use is typically for short amount of time to avoid damages and dependency. Unfortunately this does not always work.

Environmental and genetic disposition also factors into addiction as well. Children and teens are more likely to develop addictions later in life if they are exposed early on in life rather in the home, neighborhood, or social events. Those who are suffering from addiction are more likely to have impaired judgment, engage in risky behavior, and have issues forming and sustaining personal relationships. Addiction can cause marital strain and divorce, job loss, and suicidal thoughts. Difficulties in school, drastic mood and personality changes, and illusiveness may be indications of addiction in teens.

Intervention can save lives. If you suspect someone you know is suffering from addiction or drug abuse, speak up and be heard. Get them the help they need today.

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