How Long do Barbiturates Stay in Your System?

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It can take anywhere between 24 hours to a week for barbiturates to exit the system. If you are using barbiturates and have an upcoming drug screening test, whether or not the test will show up as positive depends on the testing method, as they all show up for different amounts of time for saliva, blood, urine, and hair.

 Read on to discover how long barbiturates remain in the body, the half-life of barbiturates, how to flush the drug out of the body, and treatment for people addicted to barbiturates. This article will also answer how long does phenobarbital stay in your system, since phenobarbital is a drug that is classed as a barbiturate. 

What are Barbiturates? 

Barbiturates are central nervous depressants prescribed to treat seizures, chronic migraine headaches, and sometimes used for sedation before a medical procedure. Although they were widely prescribed during the mid-1900s for anxiety, insomnia, and other conditions, since the 1970s, the medical world has been more wary of barbiturates because of their addictive properties and high risk of dependence. Benzodiazepines have largely replaced barbiturates as they are safer. 

Barbiturates, like Benzodiazepines, increase natural GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) levels in the body and relieve insomnia, seizures, anxiety, and muscle spasms. Capacet, Fioricet, Butisol, and Amobarbital are different Barbiturate medications that you may recognize.

Factors that Affect How Long Barbiturates Stay in the System:

The amount of time that barbiturates remain in the body is different for every person, depending on the following factors:

  • Dosage and frequency of use- the more often you use barbiturates and the higher the dosage every time, the longer it takes for the substance to exit the body.
  • Weight and metabolism- people who weigh little or have a faster metabolism will retain the drug for less time in the body.
  • Age- younger people generally process and dispose of the substance faster than older people.
  • Kidney and liver function- these two internal organs are vital in processing and removing unwanted substances, so the better they work, the quicker the drug is removed.
  • History of drug use- people who have abused other substances in the past have a harder time flushing the substance out.
  • Concurring substances- people who use other drugs or alcohol at the same time will be unable to remove the drug quickly from the system.
  • Hydration- Drinking a lot can help the drug exit the body faster. 

Barbiturates Half-Life: 

The half-life of a drug is the time it takes for the concentration of the substance in the body to reduce to half. The half-life for barbiturates varies, depending on the type of drug that was taken. There are short-acting, intermediate-acting, and longer-acting barbiturates, with short-acting having a short half-life (around 4-38 hours) and longer-acting a long half-life (7 days or more). 

Barbiturates Addiction 

Many natural and synthetic substances can cause dependence, tolerance, and addiction if used irresponsibly. Barbiturates are considered a very risky drug, which means that they have a high potential for abuse and addiction. 

The following factors define addiction: 

  1. Euphoric ‘highs’- Barbiturates cause users to experience a euphoric episode where they feel alive, energetic, happy, and removed from reality. This allows people to escape their daily realities, which is appealing to many, so they do it repeatedly. 
  2. Withdrawal effects- As a person uses barbiturates, their body develops tolerance, so a higher dose is needed to create the same euphoric effect. With time, the body becomes dependent on the drug to function optimally, so every time the effects of the drug wear off, the body goes through a painful and uncomfortable adjustment. This is known as withdrawal effects, and it can begin just hours after the last dose of barbiturates. These adverse side effects compel the user to take more barbiturates, which will relieve them of the effects.
  3. Severe cravings- People who are addicted to barbiturates focus pretty much all of their time, energy, finances, and resources on obtaining, using, and recovering from barbiturates. Everything else- relationships, their jobs, etc.- takes a backseat in favor of the brain's incessant craving for more barbiturates.

If you have been prescribed barbiturates, or if you have obtained barbiturates illegally and recognize any of these signs of addiction in yourself, reach out for help as soon as possible. 

Side Effects of Barbiturates: 

Here are some of the unpleasant side effects people using barbiturates may feel: 

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Stomach pain
  • Sleepiness
  • Confusion
  • Irritability
  • Paranoia
  • Lack of coordination
  • Suicidal ideation. 

As a central nervous system depressant, using too many barbiturates can slow down vital bodily functions, causing coma and death. Signs of a barbiturate overdose include increased heart rate, decreased blood pressure, drop in respiration, and lowered body temperature. If you suspect that someone may have overdoses on barbiturates, call the emergency services immediately.

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