Barbiturates Street Names, Effects, & Effective Treatment

If you suspect a loved one is using barbiturates and is experiencing barbiturate abuse, it is advantageous to become familiar with barbiturates street names. Discover the risks and effects of Barbiturates addiction.

Barbiturates Street Names, Risks & Effects of Barbiturates Addiction

Many are surprised when they hear that barbiturates are still used today. Commonly prescribed in the 1960s and 1970s, they are central nervous system depressants that are used to treat sleep disorders, headaches, seizures, and anxiety disorders. Most barbiturate medications, however, have been replaced by benzodiazepines. 

The effects of barbiturates vary from person to person. Central nervous system depressants have drug interactions and adverse effects, causing slurred speech, slowing brain activity, causing respiratory depression, and producing a calm, euphoric, and drowsy feeling which makes them popular drugs to abuse. Barbiturates, a schedule ii drug, examples include prescriptions called Nembutal (pentobarbital) and Luminal (phenobarbital).

Often referred to by many different names, below is a list of barbiturates street names:

Amobarbital: Downers, blue heavens, blue velvet, blue devils

Pentobarbital: Nembies, yellow jackets, abbots, Mexican yellows

Phenobarbital: Purple hearts, goof balls

Secobarbital: Reds, red birds, red devils, lilly, F-40s, pinks, pink ladies, seggy

Tuinal: Rainbows, reds and blues, tooies, double trouble, gorilla pills, F-66s

Other common barbiturates street names 

  • Blue Bullets
  • Blue Birds
  • Blue Angels
  • Blue Tips
  • Blue Dolls
  • Green Frog
  • Green Dragons
  • Marshmallow Reds
  • Pink Ladies
  • Red Bullets
  • Rainbows
  • Strawberries

Other examples of barbiturates street names:

  • Barbiturate street names for Amobarbital: Blue Heavens, Blue Velvet, Blue devils, Downers
  • Barbiturate street names for Pentobarbital: Abbots, Nembies, Yellow jackets, Mexican yellows
  • Barbiturate street names for Phenobarbital: Goof balls, Purple hearts
  • Barbiturate street names for Secobarbital: Red birds, Reds, Red devils, Lilly, F-40s, Pinks, Pink ladies, Seggy
  • Barbiturate street names for Tuinal: Rainbows, Reds and blues, Tooies, Double trouble, Gorilla pills, F-66s

What are Barbiturates?

Barbiturates are sedative-hypnotic medications that cause you to feel sleepy or relaxed. They’ve treated many conditions for over a century, including migraines, seizures, insomnia, and more. However, they’re less common today because of the risk of abuse and certain side effects. Barbiturates affect your brain by increasing a brain chemical called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which slows down the activity of your brain cells.

At relatively low doses, barbiturates may make a person seem drunk or intoxicated. Barbiturates are addictive. Individuals who take them become physically dependent on them. Stopping them (barbiturate withdrawal) can be life-threatening. Tolerance to the mood-altering effects of barbiturates develops rapidly with repeated use. But tolerance to the lethal effects develops more slowly, and the risk of severe poisoning increases with continued use.

Barbiturates were first introduced for medical use in the 1900s, and today, few substances are in medical use. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH) [1], A barbiturate overdose happens when someone takes more than the average or recommended amount of this medicine. This can be by accident or on purpose. A barbiturates overdose is life-threatening. Nowadays, barbiturates are typically only used to treat severe and extreme cases of insomnia. These drugs also help control epilepsy seizures.

Are Barbiturates Addictive?

Barbiturates are prescription sedatives taken in pill form or injected directly into the muscles or veins. Barbiturates are highly potent, and taking even slightly more than the recommended dose can result in a wide range of health-related severe consequences – including coma and overdose-related death [2].

Barbiturate addiction was a major and widespread problem for about a decade. However, with the introduction of benzodiazepines – a medication that is safer to use and results in very similar effects – rates of barbiturate abuse and addiction soon began to decline. Still, this medication is so habit-forming that even one-time use can result in substance use disorder.

Abusing Barbiturates

Barbiturates are common drugs of abuse; as a result, many medical professionals prefer to prescribe benzodiazepines. While benzos are still drugs of abuse, they have slightly fewer abuse risks than barbiturates.

Individuals who abuse barbiturates tend to choose short-acting or intermediate pills, such as Amytal and Seconal. Such specific drugs typically produce effects within 15-40 minutes, and it can take up to six hours for effects to diminish. Long-acting barbiturates can bring effects that last up to two days, but abuse rates for these types of barbiturates are lower [3].

The most common method of abuse is oral ingestion in pill form, but some who abuse the drugs have been known to inject the substance in liquid form to speed up delivery to the system. Barbiturates abuse is usually motivated by a desire to reduce anxiety, mitigate the effects of other drugs, and lessen a person’s inhibitions.

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Barbiturates Addiction Statistics

Prescription drug abuse is America’s fastest-growing drug problem. A third of people (aged 12 and over) who used drugs for the first time used prescription medication non-medically. 18 million Americans misuse prescription medications. In 2017 alone, two million Americans misused prescriptions for the first time. These numbers may rise as the population gets older and uses more medications.


in 2018, approximately 405,000 Americans aged 12 and higher reported using barbiturates. 

Source: SAMHSA


Americans aged 12 and higher reported misusing barbiturates.

Source: SAMHSA

Barbiturates Drug Facts Sheet

What are Barbiturates?

Barbiturates are depressants that produce a wide
spectrum of central nervous system depression
from mild sedation to coma. They also have been
used as sedatives, hypnotics, anesthetics, and

What is their origin?

Barbiturates were first introduced for medical use
in the 1900s, and today, few substances are in
medical use.

What do they look like?

Barbiturates come in a variety of multicolored pills
and tablets. Users prefer the short-acting and
intermediate barbiturates such as Amytal® and

How are they abused?

Barbiturates are abused by swallowing a pill or
injecting a liquid form. Barbiturates are generally
abused to reduce anxiety, decrease inhibitions,
and treat unwanted effects of illicit drugs.
Barbiturates can be extremely dangerous
because overdoses can occur easily and lead to

What is their effect on the mind?

Barbiturates cause:
• Mild euphoria, lack of restraint, relief of anxiety, and sleepiness

Higher doses cause:
• Impairment of memory, judgment, and coordination; irritability; and paranoid and suicidal ideation
• Tolerance develops quickly, and larger doses are then needed to produce the same effect, increasing the danger of an overdose.

What is their effect on the body?

Barbiturates slow down the central nervous
system and cause sleepiness.

What are their overdose effects?

Effects of overdose include:
• Central nervous system depression, decreased
respiration, increased heart rate, decreased blood
pressure, decreased urine production, decreased body temperature, coma, and possible death.

Effects of Barbiturate Abuse

Barbiturates slow down the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) similarly to alcohol and depending on how fast they produce effects and the duration of those effects, they may be classed as ultra-short-, short-, intermediate-, or long-acting. In the case of long-acting barbital and phenobarbital, their effects may last for up to 1 day. Usually, these long-acting barbiturates are used with other medications to prevent convulsions in epilepsy.

The effects of intermediate-acting barbiturates, like butabarbital sodium, last between six and twelve hours and these are used to treat people suffering from insomnia. Pentobarbital is an example of a short-acting barbiturate used to help someone suffering from insomnia fall asleep. The ultra-short-acting barbiturate of thiamylal is administered as an injection to cause unconsciousness in patients about to undergo surgery. Gaseous anesthetics maintain the patient’s unconsciousness throughout the surgical procedure.

Small doses of barbiturates can make individuals feel uninhibited, relaxed, mildly euphoric, free of anxiety, and sleepy. Larger doses can cause anxiety, hostility, body ataxia, paranoia, slurred speech, and suicidal thoughts. The risk of falling over or having an accident increases as the dose of barbiturates increases.

With prolonged use, tolerance can quickly develop. To this end, tolerance happens when larger doses than the original are needed to produce the same effects. This can increase the risk of overdose, signs of which include rapid and weak pulse, shallow breathing, dilated pupils, clammy skin, coma, and even death as a result of the severe depression of both the respiratory and the central nervous system.

According to the National Institute of Health [4], 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. Read to learn more about the street names for barbiturates
According to the National Institute of Health [4], 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. Read to learn more about the street names for barbiturates
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Dangers of Barbiturate Withdrawal

Often known as Downers or Barbs, barbiturates are classified as hypnotics, sedatives, anesthetics, and anticonvulsants. Barbiturates can result in physical and psychological adverse side effects for a user who misuses the medication. Specific side effects include loss of consciousness, liver disease, blood disorders, overdose, and death. Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix, Marilyn Monroe, and Judy Garland are just a few of the celebrity deaths that have been linked to the overuse of barbiturates.

Barbiturates can also cause any pre-existing behavioral problems to increase or worsen. Taking these drugs while drinking alcohol is extremely dangerous, as it can cause serious medical issues and potentially lead to an accidental overdose and the user’s death. These are just a few reasons why it is essential for individuals addicted to using barbiturates to seek medical detox treatment.

Barbiturate withdrawal symptoms can be very dangerous, as the onset of the symptoms is quick – often within just a couple of hours of the last dose. Withdrawal symptoms include impatience, agitation, convulsions, fever, sweating, seizures, hallucinations, cardiovascular collapse, and even death. Due to the severity and seriousness of these symptoms, it is encouraged for individuals to undergo a supervised medical barbiturate detox.

Barbiturates Withdrawal Symptoms

Stopping the use of barbiturates suddenly can cause withdrawal symptoms to occur. Barbiturate withdrawal can be severe in some cases. The psychological side effects of barbiturate abuse include hallucinations, mental function changes, anxiety, and depression.

Since physical dependence and tolerance can develop with the continued use of barbiturates, withdrawal from regular use can lead to various problems, including:

  • Nausea
  • Insomnia
  • Convulsions
  • Irritability
  • Faintness
  • Anxiety

In cases where an individual withdraws from regular use of very high doses of these drugs, symptoms can be more severe and might include:

  • Low blood pressure
  • Hallucinations
  • Delirium
  • Seizures

Abrupt withdrawal from the regular use of high barbiturates can be life-threatening. People who have become addicted to these drugs may need to seek the care of trained rehabilitation professionals to help them withdraw safely and effectively from these drugs.

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Barbiturate overdose is a dire situation that can result in death. Therefore, it should be treated as such by anyone who witnesses it. Read to learn more about the street names for barbiturates
Barbiturate overdose is a dire situation that can result in death. Therefore, it should be treated as such by anyone who witnesses it. Read to learn more about the street names for barbiturates

Risks of Barbiturate Overdose

Barbiturates have a low therapeutic index—meaning that there’s a relatively thin line between the dose needed to achieve therapeutic effects and one that will result in harmful consequences. Overdose can be a hazardous side effect of barbiturate abuse, especially when polydrug use involves substances like heroin and alcohol.

If a barbiturate overdose is suspected, it is important to contact medical professionals instantly by calling 911. Upon arrival, experts will take and monitor an individual’s vital signs and screen them for substances. Overdose can result in severe injury due to reduced motor function and the possible results of a fall. Such injuries can include head and neck injuries, which can have long-term health effects on a person.

Kidney injury and muscle damage are also possible due to a lack of awareness of surroundings and an individual’s ability to lie on a hard surface for a prolonged period. Aspiration of the lungs is also possible, and the most extreme cases can result in coma and death.

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Symptoms of Barbiturate Overdose

Barbiturate intoxication and overdose symptoms include:

  • The changed state of consciousness
  • Thinking difficulty
  • Sleepiness or coma
  • Poor decision-making
  • Coordination failure
  • Breathing is shallow
  • Slurred, slow speech
  • Sluggishness
  • Staggering, balance difficulties

Excessive and long-term use of barbiturates, such as phenobarbital, may result in the chronic symptoms listed below:

  • Changes in vigilance
  • Reduced performance
  • Irritability
  • Memory lapses

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Inpatient Drug Rehab for Barbiturates Abuses

There isn’t one treatment approach or style that will suit everyone. Treatment should speak to the needs of the individual. Inpatient drug and alcohol rehab and addiction treatment aren’t just about drug and alcohol use. the goal is to help the patient stop using barbiturates. Drug and alcohol rehab should also focus on the whole person’s needs.

Addiction is a complex but treatable disease that affects brain function and behavior. When someone or their family is considering different treatment facilities, they should account for the complexity of addiction and the needs of the individual. The objective of attending an inpatient drug and alcohol rehab center for addiction treatment is to stop using the drug and re-learn how to live a productive life without it.

Most people benefit from inpatient rehab after a full medical detox from drugs and alcohol. Inpatient drug rehab can last anywhere from 28 days to several months. Patients stay overnight in the rehab facility and participate in intensive treatment programs and therapy. Once someone completes rehab, their addiction treatment team will create an aftercare addiction treatment program, including continuing therapy and participation in a 12-step program like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous.


Many rehab programs will also have early morning classes or programs. Group sessions occur during inpatient rehab, as do individual therapy sessions. Family therapy may be part of inpatient rehab when it’s feasible. Alternative forms of therapy may be introduced during inpatient rehab, like a holistic therapy programyoga for addiction recovery, or addiction treatment massage therapy.

Several different modalities of psychotherapy have been used in the treatment of mental health disorders along with addiction, including:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – is an effective treatment that involves changing both the patterns of negative thoughts and the behavioral routines which are affecting the daily life of the depressed person for various forms of depression.
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) – is a comprehensive mental health and substance abuse treatment program whose ultimate goal is to aid patients in their efforts to build a life worth living. The main goal of DBT is to help a person develop what is referred to as a “clear mind.” 
  • Solution-focused therapy is an approach interested in solutions that can be quickly implemented with a simple first step leading to further positive consequences.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Drug abuse and mental health disorders often co-occur. In many cases, traumatic experiences can result in a mental health disorder and substance abuse. Dual diagnosis rehabilitation treats both of these issues together. The best approach for the treatment of dual diagnosis is an integrated system. This strategy treats both the substance abuse problem and the mental disorder simultaneously. Regardless of which diagnosis (mental health or substance abuse problem) came first, long-term recovery will depend mainly on the treatment for both diseases done by the same team or provider.

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Please, do not try to detox on your own. The detox process can be painful and difficult without medical assistance. However, getting through the detox process is crucial for continued treatment. We Level Up NJ provide proper care with round-the-clock medical staff to assist your recovery through our opioid addiction treatment program medically. So, reclaim your life, and call us to speak with one of our treatment specialists. Our counselors know what you are going through and will answer any of your questions.

Drug and alcohol addiction is a condition that can cause major health problems, such as an overdose. We Level Up NJ rehab treatment & detox center can provide you, or someone you love, the tools to recover from this with professional and safe treatment. Feel free to call us to speak with one of our counselors. We can inform you about this condition and give you clarity about issues like barbiturate withdrawal symptoms. Our specialists know what you are going through. Please know that each call is private and confidential.

Treatment begins with recognizing there is a problem. Once you decide you want to do something about your drug use, the next step is to get help and support.
Treatment begins with recognizing there is a problem. Once you decide you want to do something about your drug use, the next step is to get help and support.
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