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What are Barbiturates?

Overview: Barbiturates are depressants that produce a wide spectrum of central nervous system depression from mild sedation to coma. They have also been used as sedatives, hypnotics, anesthetics, and anticonvulsants. Barbiturates are classified as Ultrashort, Short, Intermediate, Long-acting.

Street names: Barbs, Block Busters, Christmas Trees, Goof Balls, Pinks, Red Devils, Reds & Blues, Yellow Jackets


Looks like: Barbiturates come in a variety of milticolored pills and tablets. Abusers prefer the short-acting and intermediate barbiturtes such as Amytal® and Secondal®.


Methods of Abuse: Barbiturates are abused by swallowing a pill or injecting a liquid form. Barbiturates are geneally abused to reduce anxiety, decrease inhibitions, and treat unwanted effects of illicit drugs. Barbiturates can be extremely dangerous because overdoses can occur easily and lead to death.


Affect on Mind: Barbiturates cause mild euphoria, lack of inhibition, relief of anxiety and sleepiness. Higher doses cause impairment of memory, judgement and coordination, irritability, and paranoid and suicidal ideation. Tolerance develops quickly and larger doses are then needed to produce the same effect, increasing the danger of an overdose.


Affect on Body: Barbiturates slow down the central nervous system and cause sleepiness


Drugs Causing Similar Effects: Drugs with similar effects include alcohol, benzodiazepines like Valium® and Xanax®, tranquilizers, sleeping pills, Rohypnol®, and GHB.


Overdose Effects: Effects of overdose include shallow respiration, clammy skin, dilated pupils, weak and rapid pulse, coma, and possible death.

*Above information and image below courtesy of the Drug Enforcement Administration (

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