Barbiturates are a class of sleep-inducing drugs that contain barbituric acid as the primary ingredient. Common brand name barbiturates include Nembutal (Pentobarbital) and Luminal (Phenobarbital). Barbiturates work by depressing the central nervous system, thereby inducing sleep. These drugs are also sometimes used to relieve withdrawal symptoms from abuse of other medications as well as treatment of anxiety."
Barbiturates can be addictive, especially when used in amounts larger than prescribed. Even in cases where the use is legal and within the prescribed amounts, some people may develop a tolerance or dependence when used for a long period of time. There have been a number of cases where individuals unknowingly overdosed on barbiturates, such as Pentobarbital or Phenobarbital. This is because the difference between the amount of dose that helps in sleeping and the amount that can kill a person is not very big. According to a study by the University of Texas, tranquilizers including barbiturates, such as phenobarbital and pentobarbital, are in the top 3 classes of most abused prescription drugs in the U.S. When using the drug, a person may feel a certain peacefulness and tranquility and in that sedated state of mind, one can subconsciously consume more dosage to prolong that feeling, which may end up killing him or her from an overdose.
Some common signs and symptoms of barbiturate abuse include confusion, poor physical coordination, weakness in muscles, slurring speech, petulance, mood swings, uncontrolled emotions, dilated pupils, blurred vision, blisters on the skin and liver damage. Long-term mental and social effects of barbiturates include memory loss, lack of focus, agitation, depression, getting into needless arguments, and the inability to perform day-to-day activities at school or work."