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Pentobarbital belongs to the group of prescription drugs that slows down the brain activity and nervous system. The drug is used as a treatment for insomnia. Doctors also use pentobarbital drugs to treat seizures and to put patients into a deep slumber in preparation for surgery. The d rug is commonly marketed under the brand name of Nembutal.

Street names for the drug

  • nembies
  • yellow jackets
  • abbots.


One of the controversial uses of the drug is for executions. Lundbeck, a company that manufactures the drug contradicts to the idea about using pentobarbital for executions. The company imposed strict measures on their distributions to prevent prisons from getting the drugs.


Fast facts about Pentobarbital Abuse:

  • In a study of NIDA, as many as 2.7% of 8th graders, 7.7% of 10th graders and 8% of 12th graders abused prescriptions drugs during their lifetime.


  • In 2010, 16 million Americans used prescription drugs such as barbiturates for recreational purposes, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).


History of Pentobarbital


In 1930, John S. Lundy started using the structural formula of Na (sodium salt) and named pentobarbital as Nembutal. However, the first recorded discovery of the drug goes back to in 1864 when Von Baeyer first synthesized malonylurea. In 1934, Von Mering and Fisher followed the synthesis of pentobarbital of the same drug group. The new synthesis brought the birth of different barbiturates such as amobarbital, secobarbital, pentobarbital, tuinal, and thiopental.


In the United States, the Danish pharmaceutical company named Lundbeck is the only distributor that has an approval for pentobarbital injectable.


What causes Pentobarbital addiction?

Pentobarbital slows down the brain activity and nervous system which provides the calming and sedative effect. It is often as the main medication for anti-anxiety and sleep-stimulating prescriptions.  Those are the two reasons why it gained popularity as a drug of choice for addicts.


What are the signs and symptoms of Pentobarbital addiction?

Signs and symptoms of pentobarbital addiction include confusion, irritability, poor judgment even insomnia.


Other signs of Pentobarbital addiction include:

  • Users can experience withdrawal symptoms 8 to 12 hours from the last intake
  • Taking the drug outside prescription
  • Continuing to take medication even after the medical need for it ended
  • Going through the medication at a faster rate than normal
  • Getting more prescriptions from doctors ‘doctor shopping’
  • Stealing from loved ones to funds the addiction
  • Irresponsible and showing dangerous behavior after taking pentobarbital
  • Reduced interest in activities previously enjoyed
  • Dedicate so much time for pentobarbital consumption


What are the side effects of Pentobarbital?

Taking pentobarbital outside the prescription can cause detrimental effects to the body.  Some of the common effects include:

  • Anxiety
  • Sedation
  • Feeling of euphoria
  • Reduced inhibitions
  • Poor concentration
  • Slurred speech
  • Confusion
  • Impaired motor control
  • Memory loss or problems with concentration
  • Irritability
  • Aggression
  • Nightmares
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Headache


Furthermore, prolonged heavy use can intensify the harmful effects of the drug. As users consume pentobarbital for a long period of time the body builds up a tolerance. This condition can result to the user to take more of the drug to get the same ‘high’ effect which may eventually lead drug overdose.


Here are the usual symptoms of a drug overdose:

  • Heart failure
  • Low blood pressure
  • Difficulty breathing, including slowed or stopped breathing
  • Confusion
  • Delirium
  • Sleepiness
  • Slurred speech
  • Blisters or a rash
  • Coma
  • Hallucinations
  • Weak or Shallow breathing
  • Slow heart rate or  weak pulse


What are the treatments available for Pentobarbital addiction?

The detoxification process is vital for pentobarbital addiction treatment.  The main purpose of the detox is to remove the physical dependence on pentobarbital. Although the detox may seem uncomfortable it is still possible to get through the end and recover from addiction.

 The withdrawal symptoms of pentobarbital are strong and stopping abruptly can cause more harm than good. Also, it is important to detox under a medical supervision because it needs gradual reduction of the drug. Users need medical supervision 24/7 throughout their detoxification process.

Some of the withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Muscle twitching
  • Tremor
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Visual hallucinations
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Insomnia


The severity of the withdrawal symptoms depends on how the user takes the drug; the dosage of the drug even the length of time they abuse the drug.


Pentobarbital Withdrawal Timeline
Within 12 hours Within 12 hours from the last intake, users may experience the first withdrawal symptoms. These include anxiety, tremors, nausea and vomiting.
From 16 hours to 5 days During this window, users may major withdrawal symptoms once the initial stage passed. Some of the major withdrawal symptoms include convulsions and delirium.
15 days and beyond Most of the withdrawal symptoms will subside starting from 15 days. However, it is still important to give support to the user to give them the proper care and attention to fully recover from addiction.



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