You might be familiar with drugs like Xanax and other benzos used to treat anxiety or symptoms of insomnia. However, before these drugs existed, another category of prescription medication was used to treat these ailments. They are called barbiturates. One such drug, Brevital, was commonly used in hospitals to help a patient fall asleep, but doctors deemed it too physically and psychologically addictive and banned it from use outside of a medical setting. Despite benzodiazepines largely taking over, Brevital is still available on the black market.
Brevital, also known as methohexital, has been used for several decades. For the millions of people globally who use the barbiturate in moderate doses, it’s viewed as a safe and effective means of treating seizures and relieving pain or insomnia. When used in extreme amounts, Brevital will slow the brain to a point where the body no longer processes the messages necessary to alert the respiratory system to continue working.
Despite barbiturate use declining, largely in part because of inaccessibility, experts still rank the medications as the fourth most addictive drug in present substance use circles. Most barbiturate overdoses are in conjunction with opioids or alcohol.
Brevital rose to fame in the 1940s and 1950s amid concerns about heroin and morphine in the United States, which might not come as a shock when we look at the current opioid crisis facing the country. Brevital is one of the few barbiturates still used today, although it’s less widespread than its counterparts, pentobarbital or phenobarbital.
Despite the frequency of use declining, those who get their hands on the drug still face serious consequences, ranging from chemical dependency, addiction, and withdrawal. One issue with barbiturates like Brevital is using slightly more than a standard dose can lead to overdose. Unlike other drugs, a slight increase in the amount can lead to a fatal overdose.
Another significant issue facing Brevital is the severity of withdrawal symptoms. Similar to benzodiazepines and alcohol, without the right help, Brevital withdrawal can lead to fatal outcomes. If you’ve been abusing the drug and you’re ready to stop, you should immediately seek out medical attention—your life could be at risk. Let’s take a look below at the symptoms of Brevital withdrawal.
What Is Brevital Withdrawal?
Brevital delivers sedative quality by binding to GABA receptors naturally produced in the central nervous system (CNS). Someone who becomes addicted to Brevital will encounter a disruption of messages to the brain, which blocks nerve cells and regulates our mood. When neurotransmitters like dopamine flood these reward pathways, the body will experience euphoria and a reduction of fear or stress.
Like benzos, a tolerance to Brevital will occur fast as the brain adapts to continued doses and shutting down overloaded reward pathways entirely. By this point, individuals in active addiction no longer experience euphoria, only depression, anxiety, and sadness. When cravings for the drug aren’t satisfied, Brevital withdrawal symptoms arise. Without the right help, these can potentially be fatal.
What Are Brevital Withdrawal Symptoms?
Not only is Brevital withdrawal extremely painful and uncomfortable when someone addicted abruptly stops or reduces their dose, but it can be deadly. Three days after the last dose, the former user can experience extreme symptoms that catapult them right back into use. In many cases, seizures can occur.
Over the course of seven to 14 days, a person can experience the following Brevital withdrawal symptoms.
- Nausea and vomiting
- Inability to sleep
- Tremors or shaking
- Elevated heart rate
If these symptoms are not treated properly, circulatory failure, hyperthermia, and death can follow. In some cases, withdrawal symptoms from Brevital withdrawal symptoms like depression, anxiety, insomnia, and cognitive impairment can last for up to a year.
What Are The Stages Of The Brevital Withdrawal Timeline?
Withdrawal from any drug is often unpredictable. Symptoms from one person to another will vary, so dictating the severity and length of withdrawals is challenging. Specific factors determine the outcome and what a person can face, including their genes, how much and how long they’ve used Brevital, the size of their last dose if they’re using the drug in conjunction with alcohol or other depressants, and the size of their previous dose.
A generalized timeline a person experiencing Brevital withdrawal can expect goes as follows:
- Days 1-3: The severest symptoms will occur during this period, and heavy users face the risk of deadly symptoms. Addiction specialists and other medical professionals both agree that medical detox should be sought at this point. The concept of having around-the-clock care is invaluable, especially when the unpredictable during this period can occur. Medical detox will ensure you don’t experience seizures or tremors. Other symptoms during this phase include nausea, vomiting, fast heart rate, mood swings, and body aches.
- Days 4-7: At this point, the peak of your symptoms will slowly subside, and you’ll be through the worst of it. However, it’s possible to encounter seizures still, so it’s vital to be under professional medical care to determine if you’re ready to check out. You’ll still experience insomnia, cravings, rapid heartbeat, and mood swings.
- Week 2: At this point, the physical symptoms should be gone, but you’ll be dealing with psychological symptoms like insomnia, mood swings, and depression.
- Weeks 3 to 4: By Week 3, you’ll feel significantly better. However, falling asleep will still be a challenge, but life will feel like it’s getting back to normal. In some cases, symptoms can persist for weeks or months after cessation.
Why Should I Detox?
Barbiturates like Brevital were removed from regular use on purpose. Simply put, they’re dangerous from the time they’re used to the time they exit your system. If you’re looking to quit barbiturates and overcome addiction, you should never face the process alone.
As mentioned above, these symptoms can be fatal, especially if you attempt it by yourself. To ensure your safety, you must surround yourself with professionals that provide medication and support to keep you stable during this delicate period.
Barbiturates are outdated, and as science improves, these drugs show how dangerous they are. If you’re ready to get sober, you should never endanger your life in the process. Medical detox offers the comforts you’ll need as well as the proper medications and support.
If you’re ready to overcome this challenging period in your life, you must consider professional help. During this time, you will create a relapse prevention plan to help when you start a new life clean from Brevital. You’ll likely move to another level of care once you leave, which can only be determined by specialists.