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Butalbital Abuse and Dependence

Barbiturates may be habit-forming: Tolerance, psychological dependence, and physical dependence may occur especially following prolonged use of high doses of barbiturates. The average daily dose for the barbiturate addict is usually about 1500 mg. As tolerance to barbiturates develops, the amount needed to maintain the same level of intoxication increases; tolerance to a fatal dosage, however, does not increase more than two-fold.

As this occurs, the margin between an intoxication dosage and fatal dosage becomes smaller. The lethal dose of a barbiturate is far less if alcohol is also ingested. Major withdrawal symptoms (convulsions and delirium) may occur within 16 hours and last up to 5 days after abrupt cessation of these drugs. Intensity of withdrawal symptoms gradually declines over a period of approximately 15 days. Treatment of barbiturate dependence consists of cautious and gradual withdrawal of the drug.

Barbiturate-dependent patients can be withdrawn by using a number of different withdrawal regimens. One method involves initiating treatment at the patient’s regular dosage level and gradually decreasing the daily dosage as tolerated by the patient.

What Is Butalbital?

Butalbital belongs to a group of drugs called barbiturates, Barbiturates are depressants that act on the central nervous system and brain to produce wide-ranging effects, from sedation to coma.

Butalbital is typically prescribed to treat pain and severe headaches. It’s often combined with other drugs, most commonly acetaminophen and aspirin, to enhance sedation and relieve discomfort from painful tension headaches. Butalbital acts to cause relaxation and sleepiness in the person, while also reducing anxiety. The drug is usually prescribed short-term, as the person is likely to develop a Butalbital addiction with elongated use.

Some of the more common Butalbital compounds include a combination of one or more of Acetaminophen, Aspirin, Caffeine, and Codeine. All of these drugs are prescribed to treat migraine, headaches, and pain.

There are countless brand names for Butalbital compound drugs. The following lists some of the brand names containing Butalbital:

  • Cephaydn
  • Bupap
  • Phrenilin
  • Phrenilin with Caffeine and Codeine
  • Allzital
  • Fioricet
  • Fioricet with Codeine
  • Esgic
  • Vanatol LQ
  • Zebutal
  • Axotal
  • Butalbital Compound
  • Fiorinal
  • Fiorinal with Codeine
  • Fiorinal with Codeine III
  • Fiormor
  • Fiortal
  • Fiortal with Codeine
  • Ascomp with Codeine

The above list is not complete, as several other brand name drugs contain Butalbital. It’s important to know which drugs have Butalbital as an active ingredient, and what the signs and symptoms of Butalbital addiction look like.

Signs And Symptoms Of Butalbital Addiction

Since Butalbital is combined with other drugs, a person may not be aware they’re suffering from Butalbital addiction. Once they develop an addiction to Butalbital, they’ll likely crave the drug, continue to use it despite harmful effects, compulsively use it, and show impaired judgment relating to the drug.

Butalbital contains side effects that are likely to increase once the drug is abused. Some common signs of Butalbital addiction include lightheadedness, sedation, dizziness, drowsiness, and feelings of intoxication. The person will potentially feel confused, tired or weak, experience mood changes, and struggle to maintain balance.

As a barbiturate, Butalbital affects the nervous system and brain to severely intoxicate the individual. A person struggling with Butalbital addiction may appear drunk, as it can produce intoxicating effects indistinguishable from alcohol. If Butalbital is misused, then the person is likely to exhibit signs of a hangover, like vomiting, nausea, and fatigue.

Some other signs and symptoms of Butalbital addiction are uncommon, but possible, especially when the drug is misused or abused. They can include severe skin reactions, a shaky feeling, fainting, seizure, hot spells, numbness, sluggishness, and unexplained bruising or bleeding.

Experiencing any signs or symptoms of Butalbital abuse require treatment and attention. As a powerful barbiturate, there are many dangers of Butalbital addiction.

Dangers Of Butalbital Addiction

A person struggling with Butalbital addiction is likely to build a tolerance to the drug, and then either take more or mix it with other depressants to maintain the initial high. Mixing Butalbital with alcohol, for example, can increase the risk of respiratory depression and liver failure.

In some cases, people suffering from opioid addiction will use Butalbital to enhance the effects of whatever they’re taking, while also conserving their supply. This is extremely dangerous because mixing Butalbital with narcotics can cause overdose or accidental death.

Symptoms of a barbiturate overdose, like Butalbital, include drowsiness, confusion, coma, and respiratory depression. The person may show signs of troubled breathing, persistent nausea and vomiting, severe dizziness, slow or slurred speech, staggering, and ringing in the ears. If someone is overdosing, call 9-1-1 immediately. An untreated overdose from a Butalbital addiction can be life-changing or fatal.

Other complications that may arise from a Butalbital overdose include head and spinal injuries from falls, pneumonia from depressed gag reflex, and severe muscle damage from lying on a hard surface for a long period of time.

Misusing a drug like Butalbital can have long-lasting effects on your health. Long-term and excessive use of barbiturates can cause chronic symptoms such as irritability, memory loss, decreased function, and changes in alertness. Although dangerous, it’s not recommended to quit ‘cold turkey’ without professional help, as withdrawals can pose serious health risks.

Butalbital Addiction Withdrawal And Detox

Butalbital addiction is likely to cause painful withdrawals when use is abruptly discontinued. Barbiturates like Butalbital can produce psychological and physical dependence, meaning withdrawal will occur when the person stops taking the drug. Withdrawal generally sets in within two to four days of stopping Butalbital use.

Symptoms of Butalbital withdrawal include seizure, psychosis, tremors, restlessness, insomnia, and anxiety. If withdrawal goes untreated or isn’t readily recognized, then the following may ensue: hypothermia, failure of blood circulation, and death.

There was a reported case of a 54-year-old woman who was self-administering Butalbital for over two years and then stopped. The woman had to be admitted to the hospital for seizures, hallucinations, and delirium. Her symptoms resolved only after receiving medically supervised detoxification.

Detoxification, or detox, is the process of ridding the body of harmful substances. Medically supervised detoxification consists of administering other drugs, like opioids, in small doses to help deal with the debilitating effects of withdrawal. Common opioids used for detox include methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone.

It’s crucial to never try detox on your own. Detox is safe and effective in a medical setting where doctors and nurses can monitor dosage and progress. If the withdrawal is painful and potentially life-threatening, and successful detox requires a professional aide, then seeking treatment is likely the best option for recovery.

Butalbital Addiction Treatment

The ultimate goal of Butalbital addiction treatment is threefold: get off the drug, stay off the drug, and be a productive family member contributing to society.

Treatment for prescription drugs starts with what’s called medically assisted treatment (MAT). MAT is the first step in treatment and involves a process similar to medically supervised detoxification. Medications are used to help deal with withdrawal symptoms and eventually prevent relapse. However, it’s important to understand that the MAT is only one aspect of treatment. More comprehensive, behavioral treatment is needed to overcome addiction.

Behavioral treatments aim to change drug-related attitudes and behaviors and promote healthy lifestyles. There are many different approaches and settings for successful behavioral treatment. Two of the most common treatment types include outpatient and inpatient treatments.

Outpatient treatment can take place without the person leaving home. This is sometimes problematic because a variety of factors at home, like social environment, may have contributed to the abusive drug behavior.

Inpatient treatment means the person will live at a residential facility and have access to 24-hour, around the clock medical and professional care. Here, the facility can provide a variety of therapeutic services such as group and cognitive-behavioral therapies. Inpatient treatment is generally considered the most effective form of treatment because of the constant care, stable environment, and medical assistance the facility provides.

What Are the Dangers of Butalbital Addiction?

Butalbital is a drug in the class known as barbiturates, central nervous system depressants that are used for a number of different reasons, but most often in the treatment of anxiety, pain, and seizures.

In addition, barbiturates are often used as sedatives. Barbiturates are no longer prescribed as frequently as they once were due to their potential for abuse, the development of physical dependence, and overdose. Instead, other medications, such as the benzodiazepines, are considered to be frontline treatments for conditions that barbiturates were once commonly used for.

Butalbital is often used in combination with other medications, such as acetaminophen, caffeine, aspirin, and/or codeine for the treatment of migraine headaches or tension headaches. The drug is no longer considered a frontline treatment for these conditions, but may still be prescribed for them.

Some brand-name drugs that include butalbital are Fioricet, Esgic, and Axocet. Butalbital is listed by the United States Drug Enforcement Agency as a Schedule III controlled substance, meaning that it has a moderate potential for abuse, the development of physical dependence, and addiction.