Amytal is an extremely potent and addictive barbiturate drug that was prevalent in the treatment of insomnia and anxiety. At one point, Amytal was used to treat American soldiers fighting in World War II for a condition called “shell shock.” However, officials realized the drug caused significant impairment in the soldiers, and the project was immediately scrapped.
Barbiturates have been mostly removed from doctors’ prescriptions pads due to the dangers associated with them. The most obvious problems caused by the drug include abuse, addiction, and how little it takes to have a fatal overdose. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) says that only 12 barbiturate medications are used today for medical purposes around the United States – one of those is Amytal.
Due to its potency and potential for addiction, Amytal is restricted to hospital use only. The drug is sometimes used as a sedative prior to surgery and can also be obtained illegally on the dark web. Amytal is exceptionally potent and should only be used under the supervision of trained medical professionals. When Amytal is administered without the right care, an overdose can quickly occur. An Amytal overdose can easily lead to significant organ damage or death.
Amytal works as you’d expect a depressant drug to, and it enters your brain by binding with receptors of the neurotransmitter gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA). Our brains use GABA as a natural means of relaxation or sleep and easing activity in the central nervous system (CNS). It provides us with the ability to relax our muscles, relieve stress, calm nerves, and ease anxiety by inhibiting nerve impulses that cannot reach the brain.
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Amytal mimics naturally occurring GABA and binds to receptors in the brain. The result is stimulation that causes an overproduction of GABA and flooding of the nervous system, which causes intense feelings of sedation that are used to induce sleep. However, despite its effectiveness, these are the same effects drug users target to feel intoxicated.
Identifying drug addiction is more challenging than it sounds. In the early stages, the person abusing Amytal may not exhibit the typical signs you’ve been trained to look for, but there are signs you should know. Barbiturates provide plenty of outward signs that are visible to anyone watching. Over time, isolated signs of abuse will become more prevalent as the individual falls deeper into addiction.
Although Amytal is strictly confined to a hospital setting, physicians’ primary issue is that prescription drugs cross the lines between being viewed as safe and addiction. However, with medications like Amytal, it’s easier to make the distinction since a person must go out of their way to purchase drugs illegally off the dark web or black market. The individual risks counterfeit drugs that can cause significant harm, which is a clear cut sign of addiction.
As you would expect with any disease, time is of the essence when trying to catch an Amytal addiction. For the person using Amytal, it could very well mean the difference between life or death. If you’re concerned about a friend or loved one abusing this drug, you must become aware of all the signs of Amytal addiction. Your intervention could be essential in them accepting help.
It’s common for the individual abusing Amytal not to recognize they’re on the slippery slope toward addiction. A gradual process in addiction is to lose control over time before the person can react. Unfortunately, in most cases, they’ve already become heavily reliant on Amytal leading to obsessive and compulsive use. Stopping by themselves at this point may be more challenging, and in some cases, deadly.
When a person reaches this stage of addiction, the outward signs will become more pronounced. Finding and using Amytal will be the focal point of the user’s life, and they will start sacrificing their responsibilities, relationships, and hobbies to chase the drug. Some more symptoms that indicate a user has reached this point include:
If you feel that a friend or loved one is exhibiting any of the signs or symptoms above, it may be time to intervene to ensure their safety. Seeking help from a professional addiction treatment center can significantly decrease their chance of overdosing, which could cause permanent damage or be fatal. One of the most challenging life decisions is to accept help, but it could be the most meaningful decision that leads to recovery.
One of the reasons drugs like Amytal have been discontinued is due to the potentially fatal withdrawals that could occur due to cessation. To ensure your safety during this process, it’s recommended to start your journey by enrolling in medical detoxification. Doing so allows for a medically supervised transition into a sober state as Amytal exits your system. Over the span of five to seven days, you will achieve mental and physical stabilization. Medical experts will monitor you around the clock to ensure you’re safe and comfortable.
Once the dangerous symptoms subside, the clinicians will approve you for the next treatment stage and move into an addiction recovery program. Clinicians will assess your history of drug use and other factors to determine where you’re placed. Detox can only be useful if you move into the next level of care and get to the root of your addiction. It will help you manage impulses and cravings associated with addiction. The longer you remain in treatment, the better your chances of recovery. It is recommended you stay for a period of 90 days for the best results.
Treatment will take place on a residential or outpatient level. In barbiturate treatment, it’s recommended that a client live on-site, but everyone will be evaluated on a client-to-client basis. Living on-site has many advantages, such as 24-hour access to professional medical care, living around others that can relate to how you feel, and access to medication. No matter the route, addiction treatment is proven to help former users achieve the balance in life they’ve sought for so long.
U.S. National Library of Medicine (April 2007) Pathways to Long-Term Recovery. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1852519/
DEA (N/D) Drugs of Abuse. Retrievved from https://www.dea.gov/sites/default/files/2018-06/drug_of_abuse.pdf
National Library of Medicine (September 2020) Amobarbital. Retrieved from https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Amobarbital
National Library of Medicine (December 2005) The History of Barbiturates. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2424120/
NIDA (September 2020) Types of Treatment Programs. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/drug-addiction-treatment-in-united-states/types-treatment-programs