What are Barbiturates (baar·bi·chr·uhts)?
Barbiturates are known as depressants or downers. Often referred to as barbs, drugs such as amobarbital, pentobarbital, secobarbital, butalbital, butabarbital, talbutal, and aprobarbital are all classed as barbiturates. Street names include red birds, downers, barbs, phennies, reds, yellows, and yellow jackets. Brand names for barbiturates include Amytal sodium, Nembutal, Seconyl sodium, Pentothal, and Butisol.
Barbiturates are central nervous system (CNS) depressants. Medically barbiturates are prescribed as a sedative that calms the patient or as a hypnotic drug that helps a person sleep. This drug can relieve symptoms of insomnia and anxiety, act as anticonvulsants for those with seizure disorders, and provide pre-surgical sedation.
Recreationally, barbiturates are used to reduce inhibitions, decrease anxiety, and to treat unwanted side effects of illicit drugs. Mostly taken in pill form, barbiturates can also be injected into the veins or muscles. The pills are capsules with powder inside them. Heavy abusers of barbiturates will often use the injection method, first dissolving the powdered drug in water. In the 40s and 50s, a unique drug habit developed around barbiturates throughout America. Barbiturates were taken to help sleep at night, and in the morning an amphetamine was taken to wake up and get going.
Marilyn Monroe died of an overdose of barbiturates in 1962 when she was just 36 years old. Judy Garland suffered from mental illness and alcoholism and later died from an overdose of sleeping pills.
In recent years, barbiturates have not been prescribed much by physicians, and the illegal use of barbiturates has also declined. A safer group of sedative-hypnotics called benzodiazepines is being prescribed and has largely replaced barbiturates in the medical profession.
Effects of Barbiturates
Barbiturates are most often misused for their intoxicating effect. Users report feelings of relaxed contentment and euphoria. Effects are similar to alcohol intoxication and can last 3 to 8 hours. A small dose is very relaxing and similar to a glass or 2 of wine. When taking a larger dose, a user will become clumsy with poor control over speech and body. Mental confusion and emotional reactions can occur along with the potential for accidental injury. When taken with alcohol, these effects and dangers are greatly increased.
Continued use of barbiturates leads to physical dependence, with the user relying emotionally on the drug. Psychological and physical dependence are also possible with barbiturate use. As more tolerance is developed there is a need for more of the drug and overdose can occur.
Barbiturates Short-Term Effects
- Feelings of well-being or euphoria
- Relaxation and sedation
- Reduced heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure
- Dizziness, sedation, headache
- Nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain
- Withdrawal symptoms
Barbiturates Long-Term Effects
- Long-term brain damage
- Depression, intense tiredness, and extreme mood swings
- Delirium and seizure, especially following a sudden withdrawal
- Chronic inebriation, aggressive behavior, impaired memory, judgment and coordination, and insomnia
Drug Test for Barbiturates
Since the early 1980s drug testing programs have expanded across the United States. A drug test for barbiturates is not included in the standard 5-panel drug test primarily used by employers. This 5-panel drug test includes marijuana, cocaine, amphetamine/methamphetamine, opiates, and PCP. The five panel drug test does not include testing for barbiturates.
Typically, testing for a 10 panel drug test or higher will include a drug test t for barbiturates. The common drug test utilized is the ten-panel drug test with expanded opiates which includes: AMP-Amphetamines (MAMP-Methamphetamine, MDMA-Ecstasy), COC-Cocaine, PCP-Phencyclidine, THC-Marijuana, BZO-Benzodiazepines, BAR-Barbiturates, MTD-Methadone, PPX-Propoxyphene, Meth-Methaqualone, OPI-Opiates (including heroin, codeine, and morphine), and expanded Opiates which adds Hydrocodone, Hydromorphone, Oxycodone, and Oxymorphone. The standard 10-panel drug test with expanded opiates does provide a drug test for barbiturates. Most other drug test panels with 10 or more drugs will include barbiturates in panels such as 12-panel, 14-panel or health care professional panel.
A drug test for barbiturates should be performed by a professional service using a laboratory certified by the Federal government. Initial screening and confirmation testing should be included. We do see barbiturates being available with some oral fluid or saliva drug tests. Beware of an instant rapid drug test for barbiturates that may show false positive results for Barbiturates. Most of the instant, rapid or point of collection (POCT) test products on the market today, do have a drug test for barbiturates but lab testing is always a best practice.
A positive drug test from a lab for Barbiturates must be reviewed by a Medical Review Officer (MRO). This positive test may have been caused by a legal prescription and MRO will verify this with the donor and reverse the result if necessary due to the prescription.
How long Barbiturates stay in your system is not the same for each user. Body weight, the frequency of use, and potency of the drug are all factors. With urine drug tests, we typically will see use from within the last 2 to 3 days while hair drug testing for Barbiturates will show the drug for up to 90 days after use when testing head hair.
Barbiturates drug testing can be done with urine, hair or blood testing. Each test shows a different look back period with oral fluid being the shortest and hair the longest. Our laboratories at National Drug Screening can perform a hair test for Barbiturates or a urine test for Barbiturates. Urine and hair drug testing are the most common screening tests for Barbiturates. A blood test is invasive and very expensive so not used very often. The hair drug test for Barbiturates is used to show use going back up to 90 days. If you want to know how to pass a Barbiturates drug test, it is best to stop using Barbiturates. You can then always get a Barbiturates drug test to make sure you are now clean.
If you need to order a hair test for Barbiturates, you want to order the Hair Drug Test 9 Panel.
If you want to order a urine test for Barbiturates, you want to order the 10 Panel with Expanded Opiates Urine Drug Test.
You can find other drug tests that include Barbiturates on our Order a Drug Test page. Check for urine drug tests and hair drug tests. DOT drug tests do not include Barbiturates.