Barbiturates: Treatment and rehabilitation

Last modified: Thursday, 25. December 2008 - 6:13 am

Barbiturates act so powerfully on the nervous system that a person must gradually withdraw from these drugs. To suddenly stop taking barbiturates could result in serious medical complications or death. This withdrawal process, known as detoxification, is part of the treatment process for people dependent on barbiturates.

Medically supervised detoxification reduces the risk of death as the person’s body adapts to reduced amounts of barbiturates. This treatment starts with the person receiving the usual amount of the barbiturate and then less and less of the drug over time. The person still endures withdrawal symptoms. However, the more serious symptoms may be less severe.

To lessen the REM rebound effect, it is recommended that a person reduce barbiturate consumption by one therapeutic dosage over a period of five or six days, according to Physicians’ Desk Reference. Another method is to take two doses instead of three for a week.

Detoxification may occur in a hospital, or treatment may be given on an outpatient basis. Counseling is also part of the treatment regimen. After the person is successfully treated for physical addiction, he or she must follow through with psychological rehabilitation.

Behavioral treatment helps a person avoid barbiturates by providing guidance about how to function without drugs and how to cope with cravings. The behavior-modification treatments can be set up as one-on-one counseling sessions, group therapy, family counseling, or other types of therapies. For the person wanting to remain drug-free, ongoing support can be found in 12-step programs and other groups that meet regularly.

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