Luminal is the brand name of a sedative called phenobarbital, which falls under the barbiturate category of drugs. It is commonly taken to control seizures, treat anxiety and insomnia, and can be used to prevent some withdrawal symptoms of other barbiturates. Phenobarbital has two commonly known street names: goofballs and purple hearts. Luminal and drugs like it are highly addictive, and if taken improperly, they can lead to overdose and even death.

What Is Luminal?

Luminal is a central nervous system (CNS) depressive medication. This medicine slows brain activity and can slow the heart rate, decrease breath rate, and possibly cause unconsciousness or coma. It does this by its interaction with the neurotransmitter gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA clings to the brain receptors, and thus calms someone down. It is a Class IV drug as listed by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Barbiturates have been partly blamed for the deaths of several celebrities. Marylin Monroe, Judy Garland, and Edie Sedgewick all passed away when they took too many pills and drank alcohol. There have also been other celebrities who succumbed after taking prescription barbiturates.

The 2018 National Poison Data System Database report (PDF) found that sedative/hypnotics/anti-psychotics increased the most rapidly by more than nine percent over 18 years. Also:

  • 19 million barbiturate prescriptions are written every year

  • 8 percent of barbiturates in the U.S. is illegally manufactured

  • 400 deaths have resulted from barbiturates such as Luminal in 2013

Luminal doses can be administered in three different methods. Each one begins to act at different speeds. Tablets or liquid elixirs start to work from 30 to 60 minutes. They usually last from five to 12 hours, depending on the dosage and the individual’s metabolism.

One of the benefits of being prescribed this medication is that it lasts longer in the body and is relatively low-cost. Half of the prescribed dose of Luminal is metabolized and eliminated from the body in what medical professionals call the half-life of the drug. The half-life of phenobarbital is averaged at 79 hours for adults. Its time span ranges from 53 to 118 minutes. The liver metabolizes phenobarbital, and the drug is excreted in the urine.

Here are some widely known points about Luminal and barbiturates:

  • Produces dangerous effects when taken with alcohol or other medications
  • Strong possibility of addiction
  • Intense and possibly fatal withdrawal symptoms

Luminal Withdrawal And Timeline

No one should ever quit taking Luminal or any barbiturate suddenly. The withdrawal symptoms you might experience could be quite daunting and possibly fatal. Instead of withdrawing cold turkey, contact your doctor and let him or her know you want to be tapered off this barbiturate.

Tapering or weaning off the medication is the safest way to start removing it from your system.

These are the minor withdrawal symptoms to expect around eight to 12 hours after taking the last dose:

  • Anxiety
  • Muscle twitching
  • Hand tremors
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Distorted vision
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Insomnia
  • Low blood pressure

Major Luminal withdrawal symptoms usually occur around 16 hours after the previous dose. Symptoms can last for about five days and include:

  • Convulsions
  • Delirium

The mental and emotional symptoms for barbiturate withdrawal could last for several months or years.

Why Should I Detox?

Medical detox at a substance abuse treatment center is available to people who need or want to quit taking Luminal. Detox is medically supervised and gives the patient a way to safely rid the body of the drug. It is the first step on the road to long-lasting recovery and sobriety. Due to the severity of withdrawal symptoms and the real possibility of relapse, medical professionals will manage severe symptoms.

It is noted that it could take 14 days for the drug to completely be gone from the body. You should know that close to 75 percent of people experience seizures when withdrawing from barbiturates such as Luminal cold turkey.

Almost 66 percent could experience delirium that lasts a few days. This is why medical detox is strongly encouraged.

Clients who undergo medical detox at a certified treatment center are also evaluated for general well-being, physically and mentally. If an underlying mental health disorder is determined, treatment center staff can create an addiction recovery plan that best suits the client.

What Is The Next Treatment Step?

Very few people need to undergo detox only. To ensure a full recovery, many treatment centers provide a continuum of care that starts with detox. Following this first step, the client might expect to stay at the facility for a specific length of time to gain the resources needed to ensure long-term sobriety. The below levels of treatment will give an idea of what might be written in the treatment plan.

Residential Treatment

Inpatient or residential treatment programs can from 30 days or more, depending on the client’s specific needs. These programs are structured, live-in programs where intensive therapy is given, and new skills are learned to combat addiction. Different, holistic therapies, backed by scientific evidence, are put into motion. Clients learn how to manage the triggers of their addiction and how to handle the stresses life throws in our laps. Learning these valuable skills can help the client deal with what comes their way.

TheYale Journal of Biology and Medicine states, “long-term treatment of sedative addiction requires counseling, often with the help of an addiction-treatment professional.”

Relapsing is rather common when people stop using drugs.  The National Institute on Drug Abuse writes that addiction relapse rates range from 40 to 60 percent. At California Highlands Addiction Treatment, relapse prevention skills are learned and practiced to help be sure the client leaves bolstered in recovery.

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient treatment is best suited for those who have a milder barbiturate dependence. This level of treatment is also good for recovering clients who feel a relapse may occur. The extra support this treatment provides is not only beneficial but essential for recovery success. Outpatient treatment is affordable, flexible for those with busy schedules, and vital in the recovery journey.

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