Seconal is a popular sleep aid that was heavily abused in the 1970s. This drug was referred to as the OxyContin of its day. It was created as a means to treat ailments associated with an overactive nervous system such as anxiety, insomnia, and seizures. Millions of Americans nationwide are affected by each of these conditions, and the demand for treating these ailments continues to skyrocket.
Barbiturates were some of the first medications used for sleep disorders and epilepsy. In a time when technology was not as prevalent, there weren’t studies depicting what kind of long-term effects the drugs could have. With that, barbiturates like Seconal become notorious for causing chemical dependency and addiction.
Seconal is still used today to treat severe insomnia, and sometimes it is used as a sedative before surgery. Like other barbiturates, its function slows down an overactive nervous system. It also holds a high risk for abuse because of its euphoric effects.
At the height of its popularity, it was nicknamed “red dolls” and created a state that is similar to being drunk from alcohol. It is often used in conjunction with other drugs such as methamphetamine for its ability to put a user to sleep. It is popular to help with the “comedown” after a stimulant binge. The drug is soluble in water and alcohol, making it possible for people to inject it as well. Seconal is so powerful that it is used in cases of physician-assisted suicide as it works “very quickly and very gently.”
Seconal is the trademarked name of a barbiturate called secobarbital that was patented in 1934. It was marketed by a company called Eli Lilly Company, which later sold the name to a pharmaceutical company in India called Ranbaxy. The drug contains certain hypnotic effects, making it useful as an anesthetic, anticonvulsant, and anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) medicine.
Today, it is used in the treatment of epilepsy and insomnia, but it has a history of being used as an anesthetic as well. Barbiturates are in a class of drugs known as depressants that affect your central nervous system (CNS).
This classification of drug works by increasing the efficiency of a neurotransmitter in the brain known as gamma-Aminobutyric acid, or GABA, which relaxes muscles and calms nerves. This produces drowsiness even in lower doses.
Seconal will produce different effects depending on dose, and in lower levels, it creates feelings that are similar to alcohol. When the drug is taken at higher doses, it produces the sedation it was intended for. Since this drug is used for physician-assisted suicide, extreme levels will result in death. It is an intermediate lasting drug, making Seconal the most addictive type of barbiturate.
As you continue to use the drug, your body will become dependent on it to maintain a healthy chemical balance. Suddenly stopping the drug could result in a phenomenon called rebounding. This is where symptoms you initially took the drug to combat return stronger than before you used the drug.
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Seconal addiction is the direct result of using the drug recreationally, or even as prescribed if it is used longer than intended. The longer the drug is used, the more likely a dependence that leads to addiction can occur. Addiction is a chronic disease that can progressively worsen over time, but there are outward signs that can help you determine whether you or someone you love has a problem. If you have been prescribed a psychoactive medication such as Seconal, you should regularly monitor your use for an increase in tolerance. Report any changes to your primary care physician.
Developing a tolerance to a substance is the first sign of a substance use disorder. You will know if you are gaining a tolerance if the dose you once took for your desired rest or relaxation no longer works.
If you start taking the drug more often or in higher doses, this is the first sign of a growing dependence. This is more typical in recreational users, but it can occur in those following the doctor’s orders.
If you feel uncomfortable symptoms when you stop using the drug, this could also indicate a chemical dependence.
Once this level has been reached, the body will require you to use the drug to feel normal. At this point, you are no longer medicating to treat your symptoms, but you are taking the drug as a means to avoid uncomfortable symptoms.
If you have not told your doctor about the developing problem and continue to use despite the symptoms you’ve become aware of, this could indicate a growing addiction. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) describes addiction as drug use that continues to evolve despite the negative consequences. For example, if your Seconal use has caused problems in your life such as you being charged with driving while intoxicated, and you continue to drive while using the drug, this could indicate addiction.
If you believe you are or a loved one has become addicted to Seconal, you must seek medical help as soon as possible. While it may seem like the right choice to quit cold turkey, or suddenly, there could be terrible consequences in doing so. Barbiturates can cause life-threatening withdrawal symptoms.
Addiction is a chronic disease that can persist for years. There is no single cure for this disease, but advanced technology and evidence-based therapies have made it more treatable. Medical professionals recommend a supervised medical detox to avoid Seconal’s uncomfortable and potentially deadly withdrawal symptoms. This process involves 24-hour supervision that will include medication to help wean off the drugs and alleviate uncomfortable symptoms. The duration of detox is all situational based but in most cases lasts around a week.
Upon conclusion of detox, there are other recovery options in the continuum of care. Some may choose to leave after detox, but to secure your best chances of long-term success, doctors will suggest one of these levels of care:
During your stay in treatment, you will meet therapists and clinicians that specialize in getting you well. They will go over your underlying issues and determine if you’re being treated for drug addiction, polydrug use, or any mental health problems.
The treatment you move forward with must be customized to your exact needs for it to be effective. Your medical team will determine which therapies will be best for your needs. This will teach you how to cope with cravings and triggers that you will experience.
Seconal is an intermediate barbiturate, which means it holds the highest risk for addiction and misuse. Barbiturates were once very popular for their therapeutic effects, but as time passed, they become known for much more than that.
The dark side soon prevailed when the masses began consuming the drug, and side effects such as dizziness, impaired coordination, and drowsiness led to accidents and serious injuries. These side effects are enhanced when mixed with alcohol or opioids.
When taken in high doses or in combination with other drugs, Seconal can result in a fatal overdose. Your breathing can be depressed to the point of suffocation, and this can result in brain damage, coma, and in worst case scenarios, death.
If you have become addicted to Seconal, sudden cessation can also become deadly. Withdrawal symptoms can include tremors, seizures, and deliriums that can be fatal. Always consult with a medical professional about your options prior to quitting on your own.
SECONAL SODIUM™ (secobarbital sodium) Capsules, USP CII Rx only. (n.d.). from https://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/fda/fdaDrugXsl.cfm?setid=d892a312-12ba-4d32-a840-2c0ff3dc1d58&type=display
American Society of Addiction Medicine. (n.d.). from https://www.asam.org/resources/the-asam-criteria/about
National Institute on Drug Abuse. (n.d.). Drug Misuse and Addiction. from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/drug-misuse-addiction
Escobar, A. (2013, June 26). Seconal Addiction. from https://www.drugaddictiontreatment.com/types-of-addiction/prescription-drug-addiction/seconal-addiction/