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How to Get Help for Barbiturate Addiction

How to Approach a Barbiturate Addict

Knowing how to approach a loved one who you believe is addicted to barbiturates can be a difficult and daunting task if you do not fully understand addiction. Fortunately, there are professionals who can help you approach this topic with your loved one and increase the chances that your attempt will be successful. Two types of professional services that are of use when trying to help a loved one struggling with addiction include interventions and Community Reinforcement and Family Training, or CRAFT.


A formally and properly staged intervention is led by a professional—typically, a substance abuse therapist, psychologist, or interventionist—who will work with concerned individuals in your loved one’s life who wish to help him or her seek treatment.

If you choose this route, you can expect that the beginning stages of the intervention will include organizing your thoughts and concerns prior to meeting with your loved one. Once this stage is complete, the interventionist will involve your loved one in a structured setting where each of you will be able to express your concerns in a loving and supportive manner.

At the end of the intervention, options for treatment will be presented to your loved one. These options should be arranged ahead of time in case the person is willing to seek help.


CRAFT is also led by a professional and has been shown to be more effective than other forms of intervention. The focus of CRAFT is to train family members and concerned significant others (CSOs) in different, more effective ways of engaging the addicted person. Family members learn how to:1,2

  • Identify the addicted loved one’s individual triggers and indicators of abuse.
  • Reinforce positive behaviors and extinguish substance abuse-related behaviors.
  • Communicate with their loved one.
  • Guide the person towards the direction of seeking addiction treatment.

Barbiturate Addiction Treatment Types

If you or a loved one would like to get treatment and start recovery from barbiturate addiction, there are several options available.

Medically Supervised Detox. Barbiturate withdrawal can be extremely uncomfortable. The symptoms—at minimum—could be severe enough to trigger relapse or even be medically dangerous in some cases. A supervised detox program can help you through this delicate time and usher you into ongoing rehabilitation. In medically supervised detox, staff members will monitor the severity of your withdrawal symptoms and will be able to provide medical and therapeutic relief of the symptoms. Detox is a short-term approach and best works as a precursor to longer-term inpatient rehab or outpatient addiction treatment.

Facility Treatment and Care. These facilities provide comprehensive care in a completely sober environment that allows those in recovery to escape their normal environmental triggers and focus completely on learning to develop and maintain abstinence. Programs vary but may include:

The length of stay can vary greatly from person to person and usually depends upon the severity of an individual’s addiction.

Treatment and Care Outside of a Facility. Outpatient treatment program varieties include:

  • Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHP)—An all-day group therapy setting that additionally provides medication management and access to other medical services, if needed.
  • Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP)—A partial-day program that provides group therapy and expects that you have an outside provider for medication management.
  • Individual Therapy—Allows you to continue the work that was started in a residential setting.
  • Support groups—such as AA or SMART Recovery—These regularly scheduled meetings are often free and a good option for follow-up care and peer support.

Are Barbiturates Addictive?

Barbiturates activate an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain called GABA. Increasing the activity of this chemical depresses the central nervous system and leads to a sedative, euphoric, and sometimes hypnotic state in the person using barbiturates.

In addition, some users will experience a temporary relief of anxiety and emotional tension. These desirable effects, in combination with the tendency of the brain to adjust to a new equilibrium over time when taking barbiturates, lead to a high potential for abuse, tolerance, dependence, and addiction.

What Are the Signs of Barbiturate Addiction?

Someone who is abusing or addicted to barbiturates may exhibit signs that are similar to those of someone who is abusing alcohol.

Some signs and symptoms to look for if you believe a loved one is abusing barbiturates include:3.4

  • Impaired cognition and mental processing.
  • Reduced inhibition.
  • Impaired judgment.
  • Emotional instability.
  • Sedation—the user may seem really relaxed or drowsy.
  • Slurred speech.
  • Lack of coordination—the user may fall over frequently or be more prone to accidents.
  • Confusion.

Someone who has been using barbiturates at higher-than-therapeutic doses can build up a tolerance quickly. If the user continues to use barbiturates at increasingly higher doses, he or she may also become physiologically dependent. Some of the more severe, but less common symptoms of abuse in a person who has become dependent on barbiturates include:3

Signs of Barbiturate Withdrawal

If you believe that someone you love is dependent on barbiturates and they are experiencing withdrawal, these are some symptoms to look out for:3

  • Anxiety, restlessness, nervousness, or panic.
  • Involuntary muscle twitching and/or tremors.
  • Weakness that is progressive.
  • Dizziness.
  • Visual distortions.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Weight loss.
  • Severe drops in blood pressure upon standing.
  • Insomnia.
  • Seizures.
  • Hallucinations or a major psychotic episode.

Find Barbiturate Treatment Programs

If you or a loved one is dealing with barbiturate addiction, help is available and recovery is possible. Rehab programs are located throughout the U.S., and a variety of treatment types is available. You can use SAMHSA’s Find Treatment tool to search for facilities. Many state government websites will also provide local drug and alcohol resources to those in need. To find your state government’s website, do a web search for your state name and ‘.gov.’

American Addiction Centers (AAC) is a leading provider of addiction treatment programs and has trusted rehab facilities across the country. Contact one of our dedicated treatment support representatives free today at to begin your journey to sobriety.

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