Sleep problems can be frustrating. Low-quality sleep can lead to problems in your life that affect your mental and physical health. Even one night of poor sleep can cause you to experience cognitive issues, a lack of energy, and other issues that make your day more challenging. Sleep problems are one of the most common threats to American health.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, not getting enough sleep is so common that it affects a third of Americans. Doctors have been using medications to treat sleep for more than a century. In the early 20th century, barbiturates like Seconal were introduced as a medication for sleep, anxiety, anesthesia, and other purposes.
Today there are dozens of choices when it comes to the medical treatment of sleep disorders, including barbiturates, benzodiazepines, and other sedative-hypnotics. However, many of them, including Seconal, can cause chemical dependence and addiction if they are used for too long or misused. Seconal addiction is a chronic disease, but it can be treated.
Learn more about Seconal addiction, the signs of addiction, and how it can be treated effectively.
What Is Seconal?
Seconal is a brand name for a drug called secobarbital, which is in a class of drugs called barbiturates. Barbiturates were used throughout the 20th century for their properties as a central nervous system depressant. Secobarbital was first patented in the United States in 1934. It’s used to treat epilepsy and as a temporary treatment for insomnia. It may also be used as an anesthetic and anti-anxiety treatment in surgical procedures.
Barbiturates are potent depressants that work in the brain in a way that’s similar to alcohol. They work with an important chemical in the brain called gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA), which is a chemical associated with sleep and relaxation. Seconal binds to GABA receptors, and when GABA binds to the same receptors, Seconal makes it more effective, leading to hypnosis, anti-anxiety, and muscle-relaxing effects.
These depressing effects can help ease the symptoms of insomnia, which often involve nervous system overactivity. Some with anxiety or sleep problems may not be able to slow down their thinking when it’s time to rest and sleep. Seconal can facilitate sleep by increasing GABA’s effectiveness.
However, barbiturates also have significant abuse potential. Seconal was widely misused and abused from the 1960s through the 1980s. Its alcohol-like effects can lead to intoxication and a relaxing high. Seconal can be used as a recreational drug, but it may also cause substance use disorders after normal use that lasts for too long. Barbiturates can cause chemical dependence after a few weeks of regular use. Long-term use can also lead to addiction.
What Are the Signs of Seconal Addiction?
Seconal addiction is a progressive disease that you may be able to keep private in the early stages, but addiction often gets out of control. You may start to notice signs of addiction in yourself, but denial is a common part of a substance use disorder. However, your friends and family may notice signs as the problem worsens.
The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders lists 11 symptoms of substance use disorders. The number of symptoms you experience can help determine the severity of your substance use disorder. These symptoms can include physical symptoms like tolerance and withdrawal. Tolerance is when you feel the diminishing effects of the drug you’re taking because you’re getting used to it. Withdrawal occurs when you stop taking a drug after a period of dependence.
There are several behavioral signs of addiction as well, including hazardous drug use, neglect of major roles, and spending more time using or recovering from drug use. As Seconal starts to take over more and more of your life, managing your addiction will start to take up more and more of your time.
Addiction can also cause psychological signs like intense cravings to use the drug and psychological problems that are worsened or caused by drug use, including depression and anxiety. Seconal can cause some signs of acute drug use, including alcohol-like intoxication, drowsiness, memory suppression, and motor skill impairment. Seconal addiction might also influence your sleep schedule, and strange sleep patterns may be a sign of addiction.
Seconal withdrawal may also come with some unique signs and symptoms, including irritability, an increased heart rate, insomnia, anxiety, panic, heart palpitations, tremors, restlessness, seizures, and chest pains. Sudden discontinuation of Seconal could lead to severe symptoms that can be fatal.
How Does Seconal Addiction Treatment Work?
If you believe you have a substance use disorder that involves Seconal, it’s important to address it immediately. If you’ve been taking a prescription drug that you may be addicted to, the first step may be to speak to your doctor. They may be able to help you taper off the drug safely. But if you have a moderate-to-severe substance use disorder, you may not be able to overcome it on your own.
For many people who take a depressant like Seconal, the first stage of addiction treatment is medical detox. Detox involves 24-hour medically managed inpatient treatment, which is the highest level of care in formal addiction treatment. Detox is usually reserved for people going through severe withdrawal symptoms. Since Seconal can cause some potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms, detox is often necessary. Detox can also help people with other significant medical needs alongside their substance use disorder. Through detox, you may be treated with medications depending on your needs.
Inpatient (residential treatment) is the next level of care on the continuum of care for addiction treatment. Inpatient treatment involves 24-hour medical monitoring. Monitoring may be necessary for some who have recently stopped using central nervous system depressants. If you’ve gone through detox already, you may still experience post-acute withdrawal syndrome, which is lingering symptoms of withdrawal or symptoms that return suddenly.
Residential treatment also involves 24-hour care, though it may be clinically managed without the need for medical treatment or monitoring. Residential treatment involves on-site accommodations while you go through therapies in your treatment plan. Inpatient and residential treatment are ideal for people who can’t live on their own without the risk of relapse or other complications.
When you can live on your own safely, you may continue treatment in an outpatient program. Outpatient treatment allows you to live at home while you attend treatment services during the day.
Through each level of care, you will work through a personalized treatment program that addresses your physical, psychological, and social needs. It may include behavioral therapies, individual therapy, and group therapy.
Dangers of Seconal
Barbiturates like Seconal fell out of common use in the United States, in part because they have some dangerous side effects when used in high doses. Seconal abuse can cause dangerous accidental overdoses. Unlike benzodiazepines, barbiturates have been associated with life-threatening accidental overdoses, even when they are used without another drug. As a depressant, Seconal slows down activity in the central nervous system.
In high doses, Seconal can slow down some important functions of your nervous system, like your breathing. Depressant overdoses often cause respiratory depression, which is when your breathing slows down or stops, which leads to loss of consciousness, coma, brain damage, muscle damage, and death. Surviving a severe overdose can leave you with lasting problems caused by oxygen deprivation.
The risk of a fatal Seconal overdose is even greater if you mix the drug with other substances like alcohol, opioids, or other prescription depressants. Together, barbiturates and other drugs with depressant-like qualities can potentiate one another, which means they can make each other stronger. Their similar effects will combine to cause more intense depressing side effects.
Combining Seconal with stimulants can also be dangerous. Stimulants and depressants cause opposing effects on the nervous system. While depressants slow it down, stimulants like cocaine and methamphetamine can increase nervous system activity. Together, the drugs may counteract each other, masking certain effects and side effects. This may encourage you to take more than you can safely handle.
Seconal can also be dangerous during withdrawal. Depressants are among the most dangerous substances to quit. Barbiturates, alcohol, and benzodiazepines can cause potentially severe withdrawal symptoms, including seizures, delirium, and heart palpitations. Symptoms may be even more dangerous if you develop a chemical dependence on the drug and then quit it abruptly. For that reason, it’s important to consult your doctor before quitting Seconal cold turkey.
Seconal Addiction Statistics
Barbiturates like Seconal aren’t as common as they once were, and other options are more likely to be used for medicinal and recreational purposes. Still, Seconal may be used to treat troublesome insomnia and other problems, and sleep aids are commonly misused for recreational purposes.
According to the 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 6.2 million people misused prescription tranquilizers in 2020.
Around 1.2 million people had a substance use disorder that was related to prescription tranquilizers that same year.