Many prescription drugs can lead to substance use problems if they are misused. Barbiturates like Brevital aren’t commonly used as recreational drugs today, but they can quickly lead to substance use problems when they are.  

As a powerful depressant that can cause feelings similar to alcohol, Brevital misuse can lead to various problems, including acute intoxication, addiction, and overdose. However, like alcohol problems, addiction related to Brevital can be addressed and managed.

Learn more about Brevital addiction, how it starts, and what can be done to treat it. 

What is Brevital?

Brevital is a prescription drug that is in a class of medications called barbiturates. Barbiturates were widely used throughout the 20th century to treat anxiety and insomnia, but they were largely abandoned for safer options like benzodiazepines. However, barbiturates may still be used today. In Brevital’s case, it is used as an anesthetic in clinical settings. Barbiturates are in a broader category of drugs called central nervous system depressants

Depressants work by binding to receptors in the brain that work with a natural chemical called gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA). This chemical is important to healthy brain function, and it’s responsible for facilitating rest, relaxation, and calm feelings. Depressants like Brevital bind to GABA receptors and increase GABA’s effectiveness.

Depressants like barbiturates may be misused as recreational drugs. When used in high enough doses, Brevital can cause intoxicating effects similar to alcohol, where you feel euphoric relaxation. However, it can also cause fatigue, dizziness, slurred speech, confusion, and impaired judgment. Misusing Brevital can also lead to dependence and addiction.

What are the Signs of Brevital Addiction?

Addiction is a disease that affects the reward center of the brain, causing powerful compulsions to use a drug that are hard to control. Your reward center is designed to interact with activities and events that trigger the release of feel-good chemicals in your brain like dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins. This is intended to encourage you to repeat healthy activities like eating and drinking. When you have needs, which often cause discomfort, your brain learns to feed your reward center, which usually calls for life-sustaining activities. 

However, Brevital’s euphoric effects may cause the release of some of these chemicals, particularly dopamine. Your brain learns to associate the use of the drug with a powerful, rewarding response. Then, as a course of a normal day or when you experience physical or emotional discomfort, your brain will trigger cravings and compulsions to fix those discomforts with the drug. Addictions may be described as a maladaptive response to uncomfortable or high-stress situations. Overall signs of addiction may include:

  • Strange sleep patterns
  • Using more substances than you intended
  • Trying and failing to cut back
  • Using to mask negative feelings
  • Using at times like the morning
  • Hiding drug use
  • Needing to take more to achieve the same effects
  • Feeling strong drug cravings
  • Changes in friend groups
  • Lack of attention to personal hygiene

As you develop a chemical dependence on Brevital, you’ll start to experience discomfort from skipping doses or between doses. As dependence intensifies, you may feel like you need to take more and more to achieve the same effects as when you first started. Dependence is caused when your brain becomes used to the presence of the drug in your system and adapts your natural brain chemistry around it. If you stop taking the drug, your brain chemistry will become unbalanced, and you will begin to feel withdrawal symptoms.

As a depressant, Brevital withdrawal may include:

  • Insomnia
  • Tremors
  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Seizures 
  • Delirium 

These symptoms may encourage you to continue using the substance. What started as a recreational drug may begin to feel necessary. Instead of taking it to self-medicate or feel a euphoric high, you may start to take it just to feel normal. If you feel caught in a cycle of using Brevital just to function normally, you could have a severe substance use disorder.

What is Involved in Brevital Addiction Treatment?

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Though Brevital addiction is a chronic disease, it can be treated with the right therapies and services. When you enter an addiction treatment program, you should complete an intake and assessment process designed to determine the right level of care and treatment plan for your needs. There is no ultimate treatment plan that’s universally effective. Instead, addiction treatment should be tailored to your individual needs.

Treatment should also address multiple needs, including social, psychological, and biological needs. People come to treatment with unique problems that may have been caused by or contributed to substance use problems. Mental health issues are also common alongside addiction treatment. 

Brevital addiction treatment often starts with medical detox, which can help get you through the detox period safely. Medical detox involves medically managed inpatient treatment and it’s the highest level of care in addiction treatment. The next level of care is medically monitored inpatient care, which involves 24-hour treatment from medical or clinical professionals in a less intensive capacity than detox. 

If you can live on your own safely, without jeopardizing your health or sobriety, you may move on to an outpatient program. Outpatient treatment is separated into intensive outpatient and outpatient treatment with fewer than nine hours of services per week. Intensive outpatient treatment involves nine or more hours of therapy each week, but it may also include partial hospitalization, which is more than 20 hours per week. Outpatient treatment with fewer than nine hours is the lowest level of care in formal addiction treatment. 

Through treatment, you may go through individual and group therapy, along with many other therapy options. Behavioral therapies are very common in addiction treatment, especially cognitive behavioral therapy.

How Dangerous is Brevital?

Brevital is a powerful central nervous system depressant, and it can be extremely dangerous in certain circumstances. Acute intoxication on Brevital can cause symptoms like a loss of motor control, poor judgment, drowsiness, and memory impairment. For that reason, it can lead to accidents and injuries, just like alcohol. Getting behind the wheel after Brevital use can be deadly.

Very high doses of Brevital can lead to a life-threatening overdose. As the drug slows down the central nervous system, it will achieve its intended effects. However, high doses will start to slow down important automatic functions like your pulse and your breathing. In most fatal cases of depressant overdose, people will lose consciousness and stop breathing. Brevital overdose is more likely if the drug is mixed with other depressants like benzodiazepines and alcohol or with opioids. 

Together, their effects will combine to become more intense than the drugs would individually. Mixing drugs without knowing their combined effects can be dangerous, but mixing depressants and opioids can be extremely life-threatening. 

Depressants are the only common drugs of abuse that have a high likelihood of being dangerous during withdrawal. While other drugs like opioids can cause extreme discomfort during withdrawal, depressants like Brevital can cause deadly symptoms. 

After a period of chemical dependence, quitting suddenly can lead to severe withdrawal symptoms like seizures and a condition called delirium tremens, which can cause heart failure. For that reason, it is generally safer to taper off slowly and seek medical help when coming off of a depressant.

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