At one time, the American drug epidemic was portrayed as exclusively involving illegal narcotics such as heroin, crack cocaine, and methamphetamines. Drug dealers were depicted as criminals, and users were miscreants.
However, the spike in addiction to prescription pain pills has changed that narrative. Today, drug dealers are frequently doctors, family members, and friends, and the users are from every age group and social class.
Furthermore, the ongoing opioid epidemic has revealed that prescription medications carry the same risks of addiction and death as their illicit counterparts..
For example, recreational drug users have turned to Nembutal, which was originally used in physician-assisted lethal injections, since it creates feelings of relaxation. As one article points out, there has been a rise in Nembutal use among teens who seek it out for its anti-anxiety effects. However, prolonged use of this potent drug can quickly evolve into dependence, addiction, respiratory arrest, and even death.
Nembutal is the brand name for pentobarbital or pentobarbitone, a short-acting medication that’s used to treat insomnia and seizures. It can also be administered as a sedative to put patients to sleep before surgery. In the U.S., the medication is offered via injection. As a barbiturate, it belongs to a larger class of medicines called central nervous system (CNS) depressants. Essentially, it suppresses the excitability of the nervous system.
Nembutal accomplishes this goal by interacting with a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a naturally occurring chemical that inhibits nerve transmission in the brain. In other words, GABA calms you down, so you can go to sleep.
The first clinical use of barbiturates occurred in 1904. Eventually, they revolutionized the treatment of patients who suffered from psychiatric and neurological disorders. Barbiturates also proved useful in the treatment of sleep disorders and the management of epileptic seizures. By the 1950s, barbiturate use was at its peak, and pentobarbital was the most commonly administered one.
However, the medical establishment would soon turn away from barbiturates because of their tendency to produce “frequent cases of death by overdose.” The 1962 death of iconic actress Marilyn Monroe highlighted those concerns, as her demise was caused by “acute poisoning by overdose of barbiturates.” In fact, an empty vial of Nembutal was discovered on Monroe’s bedside table after her death, along with a multitude of other prescription drugs.
Later, doctors started prescribing benzodiazepines (or benzos) as an alternative to barbiturates because they thought they were less toxic. Today, Nembutal might be regarded as a “forgotten medicine,” but it hasn’t completely fallen out of favor with users.
A substance use disorder often starts out with mild symptoms, such as developing a tolerance. But this tolerance can grow into dependency. If you notice that your typical dose isn’t as effective as it once was, then you should speak to a doctor as soon as possible.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) defines drug dependence as the point in which “the body adapts to the drug, requiring more of it to achieve a certain effect (tolerance) and eliciting drug-specific physical or mental symptoms if drug use is abruptly ceased (withdrawal).”
If you miss a dose, cut back, or stop using it, you may start feeling withdrawal symptoms, such as irritability, anxiety, insomnia, tremors, nausea, and even seizures.
Here are some behavioral signs of a substance abuse disorder that could signal problematic use:
The surest sign of addiction is compulsive use of the drug, despite the consequences. For example, if you’ve become addicted, you may not be able to stop on your own, even if you’ve noticed it’s caused serious consequences, such as legal troubles, health problems, or strains on your relationships. At this point, you should seek professional addiction treatment, as it can mean the difference between life and death.
Left untreated, a Nembutal addiction can result in overdose that leads to permanent injury or death. Going “cold turkey” can be dangerous, due to the complex nature of the addiction. The best path to sobriety starts with the highest level of addiction treatment: medical detoxification.
Generally, detox lasts for a week and involves 24/7 medical care. During this process, a team of healthcare professionals will ensure your comfort and safety as all toxins are removed from your body.
Depending on your medical or psychological needs, you may need to enter an inpatient program until you’ve stabilized. For clients with acute addictions and/or home lives that are unsuitable for sobriety, a residential program is the best solution. According to experts, the longer a person stays in residential care, the more likely it will be that they stay sober.
In residential treatment, you’ll receive comprehensive therapy to help you get to the root of your addiction. A staff of addiction specialists will tailor relapse prevention plans to your specific needs.
Nembutal is just as dangerous now as it was when Marilyn Monroe overdosed on it. It can cause dependence, addiction, and withdrawal, particularly when it is abused. Nevertheless, barbiturates are often used recreationally.
Around 300 deaths in the U.S. occur each year due to barbiturate overdose, many of which are suicides. When ingested in large doses, Nembutal can fatally suppress your central nervous system. Extreme cases of Nembutal overdose can lead to the complete shutdown of the brain. Other complications from overdose include cardiac arrhythmias, congestive heart failure, pneumonia, and renal failure.
Is your loved one struggling with Nembutal abuse or addiction? Are you? If so, it’s important for you to treat it with the seriousness it requires and get help before it’s too late.
Health Research Funding. (2014, December 23). 21 Fascinating Barbiturates Statistics. from https://healthresearchfunding.org/21-fascinating-barbiturates-statistics/
Drugs.com. (n.d.). Nembutal: FDA Prescribing Information, Side Effects, and Uses. from https://www.drugs.com/pro/nembutal.html#s-34071-1
MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. (n.d.). Pentobarbital Overdose. from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002508.htm