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Secobarbital (Seconal) Addiction | Abuse Potential, Side Effects & Treatment Options

Published on December 7, 2020
Secobarbital (Seconal) Addiction Red Pills

Seconal, also known by its generic name secobarbital, is a barbiturate used in the short-term treatment of insomnia. 

Although barbiturates are not as commonly used as benzodiazepines, they are classified as controlled substances in the United States because of their potential for abuse and addiction.

Abuse and addiction can result in a life-threatening overdose and severe withdrawal syndrome if left untreated. If you think you or a loved one is addicted to Seconal, it is important to seek help from a substance abuse treatment program. 

Effects Of Seconal

Secobarbital is a barbiturate that increases the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which slows down the central nervous system. Central nervous system depressants like Seconal are often used as sleeping pills because of their sedating effects. 

Barbiturates slow your breathing and heart rate, which makes them extremely dangerous in high doses. Higher doses of secobarbital can also cause excitement and lower inhibitions, which is one of the reasons they have such a high abuse potential.

When you first take secobarbital, it only takes 10-15 minutes to start feeling its effects and these effects should last between 3-4 hours. 

Common side effects of secobarbital include:

  • drowsiness
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • dry mouth
  • nausea
  • next-day drowsiness

In some cases, serious adverse reactions can occur. The chance of dangerous side effects increases when you combine barbiturates with alcohol and other depressants. 

Serious side effects of secobarbital include:

  • abnormal sleep behavior, such as driving, making phone calls, or preparing food in your sleep without recollection
  • memory loss
  • anxiety
  • abnormal thoughts or behaviors

Contact your doctor immediately if you experience any of these serious side effects.

Seconal Abuse

The pleasurable effects of secobarbital, such as relaxation, can lead to abuse of the drug. Abuse happens when you take more than the prescribed amount or take it in a manner that is not recommended. 

Signs of drug abuse include:

  • taking Seconal to lower inhibitions
  • abusing it by snorting or injecting
  • doctor shopping
  • combining it with other prescription drugs

Abusing barbiturates is dangerous because of their potential to cause respiratory depression and overdose. 

Signs of overdose include:

  • respiratory depression (shallow breathing)
  • respiratory failure
  • low body temperature
  • clammy skin
  • weak or rapid pulse
  • loss of consciousness
  • coma

In the case of an overdose, seek emergency care immediately. 

Seconal Dependence & Withdrawal

Your tolerance increases the longer you take secobarbital and you will need higher doses to achieve the same effects. Increased tolerance and long-term use can lead to physical dependence. 

Once your body becomes dependent on secobarbital, you will likely experience withdrawal symptoms if you stop taking it too quickly. 

Barbiturate withdrawal can be very dangerous if it isn’t treated under medical supervision. If you want to stop taking Seconal or you are physically dependent, speak with your doctor about gradually decreasing your dose. 

Withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • delirium
  • seizures 
  • anxiety
  • insomnia
  • hallucinations
  • tremors
  • sweating
  • restlessness

Withdrawal symptoms can be life-threatening, especially if you’re also dependent on alcohol or benzodiazepines along with Seconal. It is important to seek proper medical care if you start experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms. 

Seconal Addiction

If you abuse or become physically dependent on secobarbital, you increase your risk of developing a substance use disorder (SUD), also known as addiction. 

Addiction is a chronic disease of the body and mind that involves compulsively taking drugs despite harm and negative consequences. 

Be aware of the following signs of addiction:

  • impaired relationships
  • inability to control the amount of drug you take
  • intense cravings
  • repeated attempts to stop using Seconal

Addiction Treatment Options

Addiction is significantly different from dependence. When you’re addicted to a drug, detoxing or tapering your prescription is often not enough to sustain long-term recovery. 

If you’re addicted, you may require more comprehensive care that treats both the mental health and physical symptoms of your addiction. 

Detox

Detoxification can help you taper from secobarbital gradually while under the supervision of medical professionals. You will be monitored often for severe withdrawal symptoms and given medication if necessary. 

Residential Treatment

Residential programs and inpatient rehabs offer a long-term treatment option that provides constant supervision and individualized treatment plans. 

Your residential and rehab programs may offer:

  • access to support groups
  • counseling
  • behavioral therapy
  • healthy activities

These programs help you learn tools to cope with cravings and any co-occurring mental health disorders. You will develop new habits and behaviors that help you make a healthy transition back home. 

If you or a loved one is seeking treatment for addiction, please contact an Ark Behavioral Health specialist.

Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
This page does not provide medical advice.

Dailymed - Seconal Sodium- secobarbital sodium capsule
Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) - Drug Fact Sheet
National Center for Biotechnology Information - Barbiturates
U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus - Barbiturate intoxication and overdose

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