Barbiturates: Chemical | Organic composition

Last modified: Thursday, 25. December 2008 - 6:03 am

Barbiturates are compounds derived from barbituric acid. These drugs are classified in four categories that are defined by the amount of time that it takes for barbiturate to produce results and how long those results last.

The ultrashort-acting barbiturates methohexital, thiamylal, and thiopental produce unconsciousness within several minutes. These drugs are used for anesthesia before surgery.

Short and intermediate-acting barbiturates take effect within 15 to 40 minutes. The effects of these barbiturates last from five to six hours. These medications are prescribed for sedation or to help people sleep. The barbiturates in this category are amobarbital, pentobarbital, secobarbital, bubalbital, butabarbital, talbutal, and aprobarbital.

Mephobarbital and phenobarbital are long-acting barbiturates that take effect within approximately one to two hours. These effects last approximately 12 hours.

According to the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), drug abusers favor short and intermediate-acting barbiturates. Barbiturate users often refer to the pills they take in terms of the color of the capsule. These Street names include blues or blue devils for Amytal; reds, red birds; and red devils for Seconal; yellow jackets for Nembutal; purple hearts for Luminal; and rainbows and Christmas trees for Tuinal.

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