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Secobarbital Use, Addiction, And Treatment Options

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Secobarbital, under the brand name Seconal, is a barbiturate drug intended for short-term treatment of insomnia. Used on this limited basis, it’s typically a safe and effective treatment for this condition. However, as a barbiturate, it does have a high potential for use and dependence, leading many who misuse it into addiction. As a central nervous system (CNS) depressant, use may result in overdose, including severe respiratory depression, coma, and death.

Don’t Let Your Life Be Destroyed By Secobarbital

Between family lives, careers, educational pursuits, and social obligations, many Americans live busy, harried lives. Sometimes this nonstop lifestyle is so stressful and demanding that our sleep suffers. Nearly three out of ten Americans have experienced insomnia on a short-term basis, while one in ten encounters it on a regular basis.

For this reason, an increasing number of Americans are turning to prescription sleep aids to address this condition. While Seconal isn’t the most popular sleep aid by any means, a significant number of people still rely on it for treating short-term insomnia, and another number chooses to use it. And sometimes the former group stumbles into the latter.

Insomnia can deeply affect every hour of your day, decreasing workplace productivity, offsetting your moods, and depleting your health. But remember this: should you misuse your secobarbital prescription or use this drug recreationally you could become addicted. Addiction can cause far more destruction to these areas in your life than sleep deprivation alone ever could. But fortunately, Vertava Health is to help. With the right individualized treatment, you or your loved one can harness the potential of a sober life.

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What Is Secobarbital?

As a barbiturate, secobarbital has sedative-hypnotic qualities. In addition to its use as a treatment for insomnia, it’s also used to reduce anxiety prior to surgery. When implemented as a short-term treatment for insomnia, Seconal is taken just prior to bed, or if you find you’re having trouble falling asleep. Due to their overdose potential, barbiturates today are used on a more limited basis for insomnia, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Seconal is delivered in an orange capsule. For average adults, the dosage is 100 mg, to be taken orally. But DailyMed cautions that special populations, such as elderly or debilitated patients, or those with impaired renal function or hepatic disease, may need more moderate doses. Substance use can hit these populations hard too, as users within these groups are often susceptible to a greater number of adverse health risks.

While any prescription drug use should only occur by a doctor’s directive, any use over two weeks requires careful consideration from your doctor. After this point the medication’s efficacy can be greatly reduced, causing circumstances which incite self-medication in some.


Can Self-Medication Of Secobarbital Lead To Use And Addiction?

Self-medication is one of the most common reasons why a person uses a substance, especially in instances of prescription drug use. While self-medication may happen as a person strives to escape symptoms of physical pain (which other barbiturates are used to treat) or even mental illness, it can happen as a person tries to squash negative mindsets like loneliness or a poor self-image.

Should you alter the dosage of your prescription, in any manner, you are self-medicating. This not only qualifies as drug misuse but use. And this holds true even if your intent is to treat a medically-documented condition which Seconal was prescribed for. Also, many individuals may seek out this drug from a family member or friend so that they can self-treat their insomnia. Either of these motives still exposes you to the risks of addiction.

If, after two weeks, a person finds that their medication no longer works, independently of a doctor’s guidance they may continue using it. Many times this occurs in larger and more frequent doses than were prescribed. These patterns raise the likelihood of dependence, and as a person finds the need to maintain a constant supply, the drug-seeking which can become characteristic of addiction.

How Else Is Secobarbital Used?

For recreational users, the intense state of relaxation and calm caused by secobarbital can be enticing. Drug users often mix barbiturates with other drugs (commonly alcohol and opioids) to enhance these states, or to create a sense of euphoria. Mixing any drug, especially CNS depressants like these, can be extremely dangerous. By doing so:

  • You increase the odds of forming two addictions
  • The adverse side effects associated with each may intensify.
  • New and unexpected side effects may occur.
  • The likelihood of overdose climbs, especially fatal ones.

The sooner you seek treatment, the sooner you begin to better protect yourself or your loved one from these risks.

How Does An Addiction Happen?

Addiction changes the way your brain functions, upsetting important chemicals called neurotransmitters which help you to regulate stress and your emotions. For an addicted individual, this is a double-edged sword. First, stress, negative emotions and/or insomnia may lead a person to self-medicate, perpetuating the addiction. And secondly, once you begin to do this frequently, your brain can’t balance its levels on its own anymore.

Once these neurotransmitters are haywire, and the drug’s chemical influence outweighs your own, you’ve formed a dependency. When you’re dependent to a drug your body refrains from producing certain chemicals on its own, instead of relying on the drug. This is why a person suffers from withdrawal should they quit cold turkey. In the absence of the drug (and without this chemical influx) a person’s brain reacts in such a way that their body cannot function properly.

To avoid withdrawal symptoms, and to overcome tolerance, many people continue to use this drug. As dosages escalate, an individual moves closer to the risks of addiction.

As sourced from DailyMed, here are some guidelines regarding Seconal dependence and patterns associated with addiction:

  • Using over 400 mg of secobarbital on a daily basis for roughly 90 days will usually create some measure of physical dependence.
  • Withdrawal seizures may occur after a person takes 600 to 800 mg for 35 or more days.
  • Individuals addicted to secobarbital typically intake 1.5 grams (this is 15 times the recommended dosage for insomnia).

It’s important to note that a physical dependence, tolerance, and withdrawal may occur with prescribed use for some, and this does not mean that they are addicted. While addiction includes these characteristics, it’s accompanied by others, primarily patterns of compulsive drug-seeking and using.

What Are The Signs Of Addiction?

As a person’s thoughts and life become consumed by the search for and use of secobarbital, their behaviors can radically change. This may become evident by them:

  • Becoming increasingly consumed by thoughts of the drug and/or talking a lot about it.
  • Claiming that they’re a better person when they use the drug.
  • Saying that they can’t live without the drug.
  • Disregarding important responsibilities which are essential to their life (job, family and/or schooling).
  • Continuing to use the drug even though it’s detrimental to both them and their loved ones.
  • Continuing to use it despite the fact it’s damaging their physical and/or mental health.
  • Lying about their drug use or avoiding questions about it.
  • Having a hard time cutting back on their drug use or struggling to quit altogether.
  • Pushing friends and family members away.
  • “Doctor shopping” to get more of the drug (going to different doctors to get multiple prescriptions.)
  • Using someone else’s prescription or asking you for yours.
  • Stealing, hoarding or buying secobarbital off the street.

A person will also experience intense cravings, a need to use more of the drug to elicit the sought after feeling (tolerance) and uncomfortable symptoms should they suddenly stop using (withdrawal).

The DailyMed notes that barbiturate dependence manifests quite similarly to chronic alcohol addiction. Further, MedlinePlus notes that “At fairly low doses, barbiturates may make you seem drunk or intoxicated.” Signs of barbiturate intoxication include trouble thinking, speaking or walking, among others. Intoxication can move quickly into overdose, which can become fatal.

Can You Overdose On Secobarbital?

Yes. Especially when you’re using higher than prescribed dosages within patterns of use and addiction. At these levels and frequency of use, a person isn’t just jeopardizing their health, they’re increasing the odds that they lose their life. And, as MedlinePlus cautions, this risk runs high. They warn that “About 1 in 10 people who overdose on barbiturates or a mixture that contains barbiturates will die. They usually die from heart and lung problems.”

How does this occur? As a CNS depressant, secobarbital slows down life-support systems in your body. This includes your breathing (respiratory), blood pressure, heart and temperature rates, hence the damage to the heart and lungs.

Under prescribed use, for your average patient, these effects are typically controllable and remain within a safe range. But for those who will up the dose, these life-sustaining systems begin to slow and even shut down. This can happen with a first-time or a habitual user. MedlinePlus continues to note that most barbiturate overdoses occur with other drugs of use, specifically other CNS depressants like alcohol and opiates.


Overdose symptoms may at points resemble alcohol intoxication, as poor coordination, slurred speech and staggering may all be present. But don’t be mislead. Symptoms can progress to a more severe extent, resulting in coma and/or death. Should you even believe there to be a chance that yourself or your loved one is overdosing on secobarbital, contact emergency medical services immediately.

If you’re concerned that your self-medication or recreational use of secobarbital has reached the levels of addiction, we can help. Perhaps you’re witnessing these changes in a loved one. In either case, our compassionate staff can help you design a treatment plan today.

How Does The Treatment Process Begin?

When you first seek treatment, you’ll undergo an evaluation and assessment to determine the extent of your substance use. This works to ensure that you receive the highest level of individualized care for your specific circumstances. During this time we’ll discuss the nature and extent of your substance use, and the ways by which it’s negatively impacted your life.

In addition to this, our staff will work to pinpoint any health and medical concerns, any co-occurring disorders, risk factors for continued substance use and any other issues which could adversely affect your treatment outcome. Recognizing these elements will positively enhance your treatment protocol, as we adapt the way we use our modalities to accommodate your unique needs.

We Offer Cutting Edge Dual Diagnosis Care

Addiction colors your mental and emotional states, bringing intense sadness, fear, apathy, anger, and bitterness. Sometimes these things add to an existing mental health disorder like anxiety or depression, or, for people with insomnia, they may contribute to their sleep struggles. For some, substance use and addiction snowball into the formation of mental illness, due to the way drugs alter your brain chemistry.

Quite often, prescription drug users self-treat mental illness. And due to its use in treating anxiety, secobarbital is commonly used this way. These users need to not only receive care for their addiction but for the underlying anxiety (or other mental health disorder).

In certain cases, this means beginning another medication for anxiety in place of the secobarbital. Behavioral therapies will also help to identify and work through any past or present life circumstances which may be at the root of the anxiety.

Part of effective dual diagnosis care means learning to cope with anxiety when it occurs. For a drug user, this is especially important, as bouts of anxiety can be relapse triggers. At Vertava Health, we offer mindfulness and stress management practices to help you in these areas. During these sessions, you will learn how to develop and maintain higher levels of distress tolerance for the moments when life gets tough.

Detoxing From Secobarbital

Secobarbital can form a severe physical dependency. Polydrug users (those who use more than one drug) may be dependent and addicted to a different drug as well. Before the psychological addiction can be addressed, certain individuals may require a medical detox.

When a person abruptly stops using secobarbital, their body can become quite shocked and progress into withdrawal. To alleviate and reduce withdrawal symptoms our medical staff utilizes medication-assisted therapies so that both physical and mental symptoms of withdrawal can be safely managed.

But treatment shouldn’t stop here, a fact which is supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse who asserts that “detoxification alone is rarely sufficient to help addicted individuals achieve long-term abstinence.” Should you choose to leave treatment directly after detoxing, the myriad impacts of the psychological addiction will be left untreated. Without this care, you’ll be lacking the coping and relapse prevention skills which are so crucial as you make your way within a sober life.

What Methods Are Used To Treat A Secobarbital Addiction?

Once we’ve cleaned the residual drug from your system through our medical detox, you’ll be able to progress to one of our research-based inpatient drug rehab programs. This seamless transition helps to remove any stress or triggers during this sensitive time so that you can get to work immediately on treating psychological addiction.

Here we’ll use a combination of behavioral therapies and other dynamic treatment modalities to work you through the stages of healing and growth which are elemental to your recovery. The following behavioral therapies are supported by countless bodies of research for their valuable role in addiction medicine:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
  • Motivational interviewing (MI)

Individual and group sessions grant you the opportunity to grow on a personal and interpersonal level, bolstering confidence, self-love, hope, and enhanced communication skills. Our treatment doesn’t stop there though.

The damage from addiction can run deep. Our facilities integrate a dynamic blend of treatment modalities to ensure you have diverse and engaging care. We even offer an engaging aftercare program. Here’s what you have to look forward to:

  • Adventure Therapy
  • A Balanced Life
  • Experiential Therapy
  • Life skills training
  • Wilderness Therapy
  • Yoga and other holistic treatment methods

Where fear was we’ll cultivate hope; self-hatred, self-love and where confusion reigned, we’ll instill a greater purpose and a powerful desire for positive and lasting change.

Find A Purposeful And Sober Life Today

Here, at Vertava Health we’re proud to offer you life-changing treatment for secobarbital or other addictions. Our compassionate treatment specialists can provide you with more resources and help you to design a treatment plan. Contact us today for a confidential assessment.