Amytal Addiction and Abuse

Substance abuse and addiction are unhealthy, both on a short and long-term basis. The side effects of Amytal abuse can be very uncomfortable and even painful. Perhaps you’ve been abusing the drug and are worried it may have reached (or may soon reach) the point of addiction.

There are signs of addiction you can look out for. However, it’s best to seek treatment now and stop using Amytal. If you suspect that your loved one may be addicted to this drug, there are signs you can look out for. Read on to find out more about Amytal and the signs of abuse.

What is Amytal? An overview

Amytal is the brand name under which Amobarbital is marketed. Amobarbital is a barbiturate derivative used to treat insomnia, epilepsy and anxiety. It can be very addictive and it’s advisable not to misuse it. If you have been abusing Amytal, you should seek medical help.

In medical application, Amytal is used to help the patient sleep and is often prescribed for insomnia. Typically, the efficacy only lasts about two weeks. There are other names the drug may go by, including downers, butisol, blues, bluebirds, and barbs.

The chemical components of Amytal

The main chemical substance contained in Amytal is Amobarbital sodium. Amobarbital is a barbiturate containing sedative and hypnotic properties, with a high risk of dependence after continued use. The adverse effects largely result from dose-related CNS depression.

The drug exerts its effects by binding to the GABA receptors in the brain. The amount of GABA in the brain is then increased, slowing down your central nervous system (CNS), relaxing your muscles and calming your nerves, thus helping to induce sleep.

Over time, Amobarbital can cause chemical changes in the brain that lead to addiction and other effects.

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Medical uses of Amytal

One of the most common uses for Amytal is inducing sleep or sedation for people who need it. It is usually administered through injection and is only prescribed for short-term use to induce sleep, as it stops working in about two weeks and causes a reduction in the amount of ‘rapid eye movement’ sleep.

The drug also has uses in surgical environments, in which it is administered before an anaesthetic during surgery. Off label, it is used during psychiatric interviews as a truth serum, helping patients recall long forgotten or painful memories. Amytal depresses respiration and for that reason, it is not usually prescribed to people with sleep apnoea or other breathing disorders. Amobarbital has to be imported by licensed pharmaceutical importers on a named-patient basis, as it is not licensed in the UK.

Risks of Amytal abuse

One of the biggest risks of misusing this drug is the likelihood of developing tolerance. It is a habit-forming substance and can lead to physical and psychological dependence, especially if you use it in high doses for a prolonged period. As you continue to develop tolerance, you will need more of the drug to maintain the same degree of intoxication as before. As you become even more tolerant to its effects, the gap between intoxicating dosage and fatal dosage reduces.

Another point of concern is the risk of overdosing and ingesting a fatal dose if you use the drug with alcohol, which is also a central nervous system depressant. Chronic intoxication with the drug can lead to somatic complaints, insomnia, irritability, poor judgement, and confusion. You may also experience sustained nystagmus (involuntary eye movement), slurred speech, and unsteady gait in the case of acute intoxication.

Is Amytal legal?

The drug is highly regulated in many countries and in the UK, it is not a licensed medication. That means it has to be imported by a licensed pharmaceutical importer on a named-patient basis. Where it is dispensed, pharmacies and doctors have to keep extensive records. Getting caught selling this drug or possessing it without a legal prescription can land you in serious trouble legally.

How addiction develops: Who is most at risk of abuse?

Addiction develops from dependence, which results from increased tolerance to the drug. If you continuously use Amytal – especially in much higher doses than typically prescribed – your tolerance to it will increase. This means you will need higher doses in order to reach the same level of intoxication, with tolerance progressing the longer you use the drug.

Dependence can quickly become addiction. You know you’re addicted when you’re unable to stop using Amytal, even when you’re aware of its negative consequences. You might even have tried to stop, but were unable to. The best way to deal with addiction is to see an addiction specialist immediately. People who are most at risk of abusing this medication include those who have a drinking problem or abuse amphetamines, other sedative-hypnotics, or opiates.

How Amytal Is abused

There are a number of ways Amytal can be abused. One method is to obtain it without a legal prescription and administer it to yourself. It also counts as abuse if the drug is used for longer than prescribed or taken at much higher doses than recommended.

In terms of how it is consumed, this drug can be injected or swallowed in pill form. The pills may also be dissolved in water and injected. The method of use can determine how quickly the drug reaches the brain and exerts its effects.

Amytal abuse

Amytal is usually prescribed only for short-term use, because it can easily cause tolerance and dependence. When taken in large doses, it can induce euphoria and sedation, which may both be desirable effects. You may try to fight off the sedative effects of the drug in order to reach the state of euphoria it can produce. However, it is possible to suffer tolerance, dependence, addiction and overdose as a result, making abuse very dangerous.

Another possible consequence of abusing this drug is the emergence of withdrawal symptoms not too different from those caused by Delirium Tremens. Withdrawal can cause highly uncomfortable or painful effects, which can drive you to use even more Amytal in order to manage your symptoms. No matter how much or little you abuse this drug, it’s best to quit as soon as possible. If you have started experiencing withdrawal, please speak to a doctor before attempting to quit.

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Physical, emotional and social effects of Amytal abuse

The effects of abuse can be classified as physical, emotional, and social. The emergence of any range of symptoms and how severe they are will depend on a number of factors, such as your unique body chemistry, amongst others.

Physical effects include those which affect the body and may be easily noticed by others. Emotional effects affect the mind, but may be obvious to others due to how they manifest, while social effects impact not only you, but those around you as well. Such effects may include isolation and other behavioural issues that cause strain on your relationships. Other such effects can include memory loss and mood changes.

Signs, symptoms and effects of Amytal abuse

The signs and symptoms of abuse are not too different from those you might see in a drunken person. Some of the more common symptoms include confusion, slurred speech and drowsiness. Other symptoms include a slowing down of the central nervous system, lack of inhibition, sweating, fever, and sluggishness.

If you suspect that your loved one may be abusing this drug, there are a number of symptoms to look out for that may prove or disprove your suspicions. Be alert for signs such as irritability, decreased functioning, changes in alertness, staggering, shallow breathing, and lack of coordination.

Other signs may include faulty judgement, drowsiness, lack of interest in activities once enjoyed, secretive behaviour, isolation from family and friends, changes in appearance or hygiene, changes in mood, memory loss, difficulty in thinking, and altered level of consciousness. You should also be suspicious if your close friend or relative needs to have their prescription renewed earlier than scheduled.

In addition to tolerance and dependence, using this medication frequently can lead to mood disturbances. Some other possible effects of the drug include psychosis, seizures, anxiety, restlessness, hyperthermia, pulmonary oedema, liver damage, exfoliative dermatitis, skin rashes, nausea and vomiting, hyperventilation, hallucinations and nightmares, depression, agitation, and confusion.

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Short-term effects of Amytal abuse

The effects that you may experience short-term may be physical or psychological in nature. Some of the possible mental effects that may surface (if you remain awake after ingestion) include relaxation, delirium, drowsiness, dizziness, anxiety, and confusion.

The physical effects that can manifest within a short period after ingestion may include symptoms like ataxia and headache. Your limbs may also feel heavy, you may lose coordination, and your breathing may be slowed.

Long-term effects of Amytal abuse

When you use this medication for a prolonged period of time, it can cause changes in your brain that can be difficult to reverse, depending on how long you’ve been abusing the drug. Some of the long-term effects may include insomnia, aggressive behaviour, chronic inebriation, and impaired coordination, judgement, and memory.

There is always the possibility of becoming addicted to Amytal if you’ve been using it for a prolonged period of time. It can cause psychological and physical dependency, which can quickly become addiction if the medication is abused for its ‘high’. Other possible long-term effects include insomnia, muscle problems, digestive problems, neurological damage, anxiety, depression, and even chronic paranoia.


FAQs

What is Amytal Abuse and Addiction?

Abuse refers to the act of diverting this drug from doctors’ offices or hospitals for recreational use. Anyone can fall into the trap of substance misuse as a result of its sedative and euphoric effects.

If abused for long enough, addiction may develop, in which case you will be unable to stop using Amytal, regardless of the damage it is causing to you. This drug tends to be abused by people who like alcohol, but it can be extremely dangerous to abuse both substances simultaneously.

How dangerous is Amytal abuse?

Abusing Amytal can lead to dangerous effects and in some cases, it can even prove fatal. If you continue to use this medication, you will develop a tolerance for its mood-altering effects over time. You will then be forced to start taking higher doses in order to reach the same level of intoxication as before.

Taking larger doses can result in a fatal overdose, because your body’s tolerance of the drug’s physical effects doesn’t increase at the same rate as it does for the psychological effects. With tolerance and dependence comes withdrawal in periods when you are not using the medication. Withdrawal symptoms can be very serious, even leading to death in some cases.

Can Amytal be used legally?

In the UK, there are no licensed medicines available containing Amobarbital. The drug used to be marketed in the country as Sodium Amytal, but that has now been discontinued. Amobarbital sodium can only be made available on a named-patient basis and it must be imported by a licenced pharmaceutical importer.

Can I mix Amytal with other substances?

It can be dangerous to mix this medication with other substances, depending on what those other substances are. Before you begin treatment with it, your pharmacist or doctor must know about any other medications you may be using, including herbal medicines and drugs you bought without a prescription.

It is also important to check with your pharmacist or doctor before taking any new medications while you are taking Amytal, to make sure it is a safe combination. There are substances which, when taken with this drug, will increase the risk of sedation and cause drowsiness. They include tricyclic antidepressants, strong opioid painkillers, sleeping tablets, sedating antihistamines, other barbiturates, benzodiazepines and alcohol.

What are the street names for Amytal?

Street names for drugs are often used in order to avoid drawing the wrong type of attention, that is, from law enforcement officers, family members and so on. Some of the street names for the drug include blues, bluebirds, blue heaven, heavenly blues, downers, blue devils and blue velvet.

Is Amobarbital Sodium the same as Amytal?

Yes, they are the same. However, Amytal is the brand name under which Amobarbital sodium is marketed. The latter is the chemical compound contained in the medication known as Amytal. Often, both terms are used interchangeably and there is no harm in that, since they both refer to the same substance.

What Are the Side Effects of Amytal?

Different medications affect people in different ways. Therefore, the side effects that you experience may differ from those experienced by another person.

The side effects of this drug include: slowed breathing, decreased blood pressure, slower than normal heartbeat, unexpected excitement, gut disturbances like vomiting and constipation, headache, shaky movements and unsteady walk, anxiety, agitation, confusion, dizziness, drowsiness, sleepiness, and even liver damage.

You may experience some or even none of the side effects mentioned above, as well as others not mentioned here. It is always a good idea to reach out to a medical professional for advice if you experience any of the side effects mentioned above or others not mentioned.

Who should not take Amytal?

There are a number of people who are better off not taking this medication, because it can lead to adverse effects for them. The elderly should not take it because they are more likely to be highly sensitive to the effects of the drug and may experience more pronounced side effects. Children and young adults shouldn’t take it, as it can cause paradoxical excitement and anxiety.

Amytal is not prescribed to individuals with breathing, liver, or kidney diseases, as well as those with porphyria, hypotension, or those in pain. It will also not be prescribed if you have a history of drug or alcohol abuse, due to its potential for addiction. Pregnant women must stay away from the drug, because it can cause babies to be born addicted or with birth defects.

As the drug is poisonous in small amounts, it is not administered to patients who have attempted suicide. You should also avoid it if you are weak or debilitated, are breastfeeding, have a hereditary blood disorder known as porphyria, or are allergic to barbiturates. 

What are the risks of taking Amytal?

One of the most commonly mentioned risks of taking this drug is its high potential for addiction. It only takes a few weeks for you to develop cravings, as well as a physical tolerance and drug seeking behaviours.

When you develop tolerance to Amytal, you will have to take more of it to achieve the same effects. If you stop using it at this point, you will experience withdrawal symptoms and with continued use, you may quickly develop an addiction. Because of its high potential for addiction, doctors in the UK are not permitted to prescribe this drug to individuals who are not already taking barbiturates.

Another risk of taking Amobarbital is its low therapeutic to toxic dose, which implies that increasing the amount you ingest by just a little bit can cause death by overdose. In fact, celebrities like Judy Garland, Robert Walker, Jimi Hendrix and Marilyn Monroe all died from barbiturate overdoses, back when Amytal was sold under names such as Tuinal, Dexamyl, and ‘Lilly 33s’, amongst others.

Do routine urine tests detect Amytal?

Yes. Like other barbiturates, Amytal can be detected in routine drug tests taken at school or the workplace. All traces of the drug won’t be entirely expelled from your body until after about four days, as it has a half-life of 16 to 40 hours. It may take even longer for it to leave your body if you have any problems with your liver.

Another reason why the drug may stay longer in your body is prolonged use. If you’ve been using the drug for an extended period of time, it can accumulate in your fat cells and stay in your system for longer than four days. Medications like Xanax and Soma can sometimes cause false positives for Amytal and other barbiturates.

What is an Amytal overdose?

An overdose occurs when you’ve taken more of a drug than your body can handle. An overdose is considered to be a medical emergency, so if you suspect that a friend may have overdosed, please contact emergency medical services immediately. Amobarbital overdose is often fatal, but how soon a person gets to hospital can affect their chances of survival, depending on the dosage taken, if other drugs were used, and factors like weight and age.

In some cases, an overdose may resemble a drunken state. However, there have been cases where a person was taken to hospital in a coma with extremely low levels of brain activity. Back in the 1930s, scientists considered between two to six grams to be an overdose, but people have died after taking only one gram. An elderly person or a child is more likely to die of an overdose.

If you survive an overdose, you may suffer problems like kidney failure, heart failure, pulmonary oedema, and pneumonia. It is best to seek treatment for substance abuse and addiction in order to eliminate the likelihood of overdosing.

What drugs interact with Amytal?

There are various classes of drugs which react with Amytal in ways that can be dangerous to your health. Therefore, it is important to inform your doctor or pharmacist if you have been using other drugs or intend to use other drugs after commencing treatment. For instance, anticoagulants can be rendered less effective, requiring the dosage to be increased if treatment is expected to work.

Amytal may increase the metabolism of exogenous corticosteroids – and like anticoagulants, your doctor may need to adjust the dosage to ensure effective treatment. The drug may also decrease the blood level of griseofulvin and shorten the half-life of doxycycline for as long as two weeks after you are taken off the barbiturate.

You may experience additive depressant effects if you use the drug concomitantly with other CNS depressants like alcohol, tranquilisers, antihistamines and other hypnotics or sedatives. The effects of Amytal may be prolonged by the use of monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), possibly due to inhibition of the metabolism of the barbiturate.

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