Why Barbiturates Begun Its Decline In Alcoholism Withdrawal Treatment

Essex, TN (PressExposure) August 11, 2009 -- Barbiturate was one of the most effective drug used to prevent and to treat alcoholism withdrawal. However, because of their adverse side effects, barbiturates are now largely replaced by benzodiazepines mainly since benzodiazepines are significantly less dangerous, particularly in overdose. That is the main reason for its rapid decline. Barbiturates, although effective as treatment or as preventive measure for withdrawal syndromes to alcoholism, are also known to cause severe addiction and overdose, the latter being the most frequent case.

Overdose to Barbiturate Compared to benzodiazepines, barbiturates are known to cause rapid overdose. An overdose results when a person takes a larger-than-prescribed dose of a drug, usually because of increased tolerance to the drug. With regular use, tolerance to the effects of barbiturates develops. According to teen treatment center therapists, this in turn may leads to a need for increasing doses of the drug to get the original desired pharmacological or therapeutic effect. Although benzodiazepines are known to cause quick tolerance than barbiturates, its overdose level is minimal compared to that of barbiturates'. Common symptoms of barbiturate overdose include:

Sluggishness Incoordination Difficulty in thinking Slowness of speech Faulty judgment Drowsiness Shallow breathing Staggering In severe cases, coma and death

The lethal dosage of barbiturates varies greatly with tolerance and from one individual to another. According to teen treatment center therapists, even in inpatient settings, the development of tolerance is still a problem, as dangerous and unpleasant withdrawal symptoms can result when the drug is stopped after dependence has developed.

Barbiturates in overdose with other CNS depressants such as alcohol, opiates or benzodiazepines is even more dangerous due to additive CNS and respiratory depressant effects. According to teen treatment center therapists, in the case of benzodiazepines, not only do they have additive effects, barbiturates also increase the binding affinity of the benzodiazepine binding site thus leading to an exaggerated effect of benzodiazepines.

Current state of the drug In the 1950s and 1960s, increasing reports began to be published about barbiturate overdoses and dependence problems which eventually led to the scheduling of barbiturates as controlled drugs. In 1970 several barbiturates were designated in the United States as controlled substances with the passage of the American Controlled Substances Act of 1970. Pentobarbital, secobarbital and amobarbital were designated schedule II drugs, butabarbital schedule III, and barbital and phenobarbital schedule IV. The drug is currently available in selected and controlled areas and has now been stopped for use in alcoholism withdrawal.

About Donna Sparks

Donna Sparks is a Professor and a Consultant Physician. Other than her clinical and local teaching commitments, she also continues to enjoy the privileges of research, writing and lecturing.

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Press Release Submitted On: August 11, 2009 at 4:10 am
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