Amytal Sodium Abuse, Addiction and Treatment Options

Amytal sodium is a frequently abused medication. It can also lead to an addiction, but fortunately, there are rehab options available. A lot of people fail to recognize just how dangerous this drug can be. They assume that it is safe because it is prescribed, but when it is misused, it is not safe at all.

It is important to understand the seriousness behind Amytal sodium abuse, and how it can lead to addiction. People typically take this drug without any concern for its side effects, or what the long-term effects of abusing it might be. That, along with how to get help is what we would like to cover here.

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What is Amytal Sodium?

Amytal sodium is a central nervous system depressant that is also a barbiturate. It works as a sedative, and in certain doses, it can also be used as an anticonvulsant. This drug is not prescribed in tablet form. It is only available in IV form, or it can be given as a shot. It is typically given only in hospital settings, but those who abuse it can purchase it illegally on the street, or even online.

This drug also goes by the names, Amobarbital and Amylobarbitone. It is a white powder that has no odor and a slightly bitter taste.

What is it Used to Treat?

Doctors use Amytal sodium to treat a few different conditions. It is most commonly used to treat insomnia and other sleep disturbances. It works well when it is prescribed to help with severe anxiety. It may also be given as a pre-anesthetic prior to surgical procedures.

This drug can also be used to treat other conditions off-label. For example, some doctors will use it to treat various seizure disorders, and it has been used in psychiatric analyses.

When this drug was first made available, on the streets, it was known as Blue Heavens. Over the years, it has earned many other street names as well, such as:

  • Blues
  • Blue Birds
  • Blue Devils
  • Blue Angels
  • Downers
  • Blue Velvets
  • Red
  • Red Birds

Amytal sodium was first synthesized in Germany in 1923. It was once manufactured by Eli Lilly and Company in the United States and it came as a bright blue, bullet-shaped capsule. When it was first released, it quickly became a drug of abuse. That is why the tablet form of the drug was discontinued by the company in the early 1980s.

When Amytal sodium is administered slowly through an IV, it has the ability to act as a truth serum. When someone is on this drug, they will provide information that they would otherwise block. This is generally because people lose their inhibitions when they are taking it. It is no longer used in this way because of the fact that people can be coerced into remembering things that never happened.

During World War II, this drug was used by the U.S. Armed Forces as a way to treat shell shock. Once the soldiers were treated, they were able to return to their duties at the front line. But since then, the use of the drug during war has been discontinued. This is primarily because the way it affected soldiers’ abilities in battle.

This drug is highly addictive, which is why it is only mean to be given in small doses. It is listed as a Schedule II substance under the Controlled Substances Act. That means that the potential for abuse and the risk of addiction are quite high.

This drug should only ever be used under the care of a medical doctor, and only in certain situations. It is not something that should be taken long-term, and yet, many people do.

When people first start abusing Amytal sodium, they do it because of the euphoric high they experience. What they are really feeling is the sensation of increased dopamine levels in the brain. After some time passes, they get used to that feeling, and their brains are no longer able to make dopamine without the drug. At that point, they have become addicted.


Barbiturate Abuse Statistics

The number of people abusing barbiturate drugs like Amytal sodium is staggering. Statistics tell us that:

  • In 2013, there were close to 400 deaths in the United States because of barbiturates.
  • Some of these deaths were because of people using the drug alone. Others were because they were using them in combination with other drugs.
  • Among those who overdose on these drugs, about 10% of them die as a result, usually from either heart or lung problems.
  • Around 9% of high school students have used these drugs for non-medical purposes at least one time.
  • Barbiturates lead to close to 1,500 visits to the emergency room each year.

Amytal sodium does not get as much media attention as other drugs of abuse. But that does not mean that its misuse is not a real problem in our country. It is, and that could be in part because people do not realize how dangerous it is. They know that it is available by prescription, which gives a false perception of safety.

The Side Effects of Amytal Sodium

The use of Amytal sodium comes with a long list of side effects. Some of them may go away with time, but others may linger, or even become worse.

The side effects of Amytal sodium include:

  • Sleepiness and fatigue
  • Mental confusion
  • Feeling nervous or anxious
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Constipation
  • Fever
  • Agitation
  • Sleep apnea
  • Low blood pressure
  • Nightmares
  • Fainting spells
  • Muscle spasms
  • Loss of coordination
  • Hallucination
  • Strange patterns of thinking
  • A slower heart rate than normal

Important Drug Warnings

Amytal sodium is a drug that is known to cause liver damage with extended use. People often experience reactions at the injection site as well.

This drug should not be mixed with alcoholopioids, any illicit drugs, or other prescription medications. Mixing them with Amytal sodium can have serious consequences. It is important for anyone who is taking it to let their doctor know in order to prevent dangerous interactions.

The Effects of Continued Abuse

The use of this drug for any extended period of time carries significant risks. But whether a person is using it short-term or long-term, they should understand what those risks are.

The Short-Term Effects

Someone who is taking Amytal sodium for a short time period is likely to experience many of the above-mentioned side effects. They may be abusing it for its euphoria, but there are other short-term effects they are likely to experience as well. They include:

  • Slower and slurred speech
  • Slow thinking processes
  • Slow reasoning processes
  • Problems with coordination and balance
  • Very slow reflexes
  • Extreme sedation
  • Lethargy

The Long-Term Effects

The long-term effects are much more serious, and they are why this drug should never be used for a long period of time. Still, people do it, and they are likely to experience the following:

  • Problems at school, work or in their social lives
  • Relationship problems
  • Physical health problems, including heart and liver issues
  • Emotional health problems
  • Addiction and dependence
  • A growing tolerance (needing more of the drug to get high)
  • Withdrawal symptoms when the drug is stopped

Recovering From Amytal Addiction

Even though it may be challenging to recover from an addiction to Amytal sodium, it is possible. But it is important to know what to expect once the recovery process begins.

Common Withdrawal Symptoms

When a person suddenly stops taking Amytal sodium, they are likely to go through withdrawal. The symptoms can become very severe, and they can even mimic delirium tremens, which is only typically seen in alcoholics.

Some of the more common signs of Amytal sodium withdrawal include:

  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • The onset of seizures
  • Insomnia
  • Dizziness
  • Psychosis
  • Rhythmic intention tremors

Drug Detox

Going through a quality drug detox program is essential for anyone who is addicted to Amytal sodium. They usually begin by tapering off the drug slowly, according to a doctor’s instructions. The goal is to minimize the impact of withdrawal so that they can come off the drug completely as safely as possible.

In addition to tapering, there are other withdrawal treatments that may be used as well.

Medical Detox

Medical detox has become the norm for anyone who has the desire to stop taking certain types of drugs. For those who are addicted to Amytal sodium, this might mean taking medications to help with specific withdrawal symptoms. For instance, because of the risk of seizures, a patient might be placed on Gabapentin to help with withdrawals.

Medical detox is not intended to be a long-term solution. The medications are typically given on a short-term basis, and only while they are absolutely necessary. Otherwise, it is possible to form secondary addictions, in many cases.

Holistic Detox

Holistic detoxification treatments refer to the use of diet and exercise (among other methods). This is a way to treat the person as a whole and improve their overall physical fitness. In doing so, the body is better equipped to rid itself of toxins that lead to withdrawal.

Going to Drug Rehab for Amytal Sodium Addiction

Once the detoxification process is finished, the next step is to go to drug rehab. This is where the mental part of the addiction is treated. It involves various types of therapy, including individual therapy with a counselor who is trained to treat addictions.

What many people do not realize is the fact that their substance abuse problems began for a reason. They may have been going through a stressful time, or there may have been other reasons they turned to drugs. Regardless, it is important to determine and address the cause. Otherwise, the individual is likely to go back to using again.

Getting Treatment for a Co-Occurring Disorder

Co-occurring disorders are often the reason why so many people turn to substances. They experience various mental health symptoms, and drugs like Amytal sodium give them the relief they are seeking.

For someone who has sought out a barbiturate drug like this one, they are usually suffering from a condition like anxiety, panic attacks or bipolar disorder. They use because the drugs make them feel better. But those good feelings only last for so long.

By getting professional treatment for co-occurring disorders, more people are able to experience better long-term outcomes after rehab.

Amytal Sodium Addiction Treatment is Available for Recovery

Amytal sodium is a dangerous drug, even though it can be prescribed for therapeutic purposes. At Northpoint the Evergreen, we have treated many people with this type of addiction. We offer a personalized approach to treatment that has shown to be very effective.

Our intensive outpatient program is one of the best in the state. We can refer to a local drug detox program that we trust in order to help people begin the recovery process the right way.

Do you have questions about Amytal sodium, its effects, addiction or recovery? Please contact us today.

All of the information presented on this website is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to take the place of medical advice from a doctor, and it should be substituted for medical advice, a diagnosis or treatment. Relying upon anything discussed here is done at your own risk. Do not disregard medical advice you have received or put off getting help because of something you have read on this website. Please call 911 in the event of a medical emergency right away.