Amytal (Amobarbital)

Amytal Sodium is a form of barbiturate that was commonly used as a sedative/relaxant before benzodiazepines became the more popular prescription. While rarely used today, Amytal can still lead to addiction if misused and holds a high potential for accidental overdose.

What Is Amytal?

Amobarbital, more commonly known by the brand name Amytal or Amytal Sodium, is a type of barbiturate that is prescribed as a sedative-hypnotic. Barbiturates like Amytal were synthesized before benzodiazepine and have been used to treat anxiety disorder for many years, as a pre-surgery anesthetic and as a short term treatment for insomnia.[1]

Since the rise in popularity of benzodiazepines like Xanax as anti-anxiety medication, barbiturates have become less frequently prescribed as benzodiazepines are seen as safer. Amytal Sodium is one of the very few barbiturates still prescribed today.

Amytal is only administered by a doctor or medical professional and is not intended for home use. If someone has Amytal on their person, they likely obtained it through illegal means.

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What does Amytal look like?

Amytal often comes as an odorless white powder that is intended to be diluted in water, and also in pill and tablet form. Occasionally, the powder version is dissolved in a solution and administered intravenously.

Other names for Amytal

Street names for Amytal include Downers, Red, Redbirds, Blue Devils, Heavenly Blues, Blue Heaven, Bluebirds, and Blue Velvets

Amytal is a Schedule II drug under the Controlled Substances Act, meaning it has medically designated purposes but runs a high risk of abuse and dependence.[2] It is impossible to legally obtain a prescription for Amytal as it is no longer prescribed for personal use.

Effects of Amytal

Amytal is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant that is used as a sedative for those suffering from acute anxiety disorders and those affected by severe insomnia.[3]

Unlike more popular alternatives such as Valium or Halcion, Amytal is only prescribed for short term treatment and is only administered by a licensed doctor or physician. This is due largely to the adverse side effects barbiturates like Amytal can cause and their addictive potential. 

The adverse side effects of Amytal use include:

  • Allergic reaction

  • Depression

  • Breathing issues

  • Potential tissue damage

  • Confusion

  • Nervousness

  • Dizziness

  • Nausea and Vomiting

  • Barbiturate withdrawal (rebound insomnia/anxiety when use stops)

  • Substance use disorder

  • Overdose

Amytal overdose

Amobarbital drugs like Amytal are highly dangerous when not administered in exact doses by a doctor. Taking even a small amount of the drug over the prescribed dose can lead to a fatal overdose

Reported cases of Amytal overdose range from doses between two and six grams, though there are cases of overdoses occurring from just one gram. Factors such as gender, BMI, and age all influence the likelihood of Amytal overdose, with the elderly and young children being at the highest risk.[4]

Symptoms of an Amytal overdose can include pulmonary edema (fluid on the lungs), pneumonia, kidney failure, and heart failure; all of which can be fatal.

Is Amytal addictive?

As a CNS depressant, Amytal interacts with the brain in a similar way to alcohol or opioid painkillers. As Amytal causes feelings of euphoria and sedation, it can lead to abuse, dependence, and addiction.[3] 

Amytal Sodium abuse can be extremely dangerous due to the high likelihood of overdose, and obtaining the drug for use outside of administration by a doctor is illegal. Amytal is often abused by dissolving the drug in liquid and then injecting it into the body but is also occasionally snorted. Either method of administration holds the potential to cause an overdose. 

As Amobarbital addiction is so dangerous, it is vital that those suffering from a substance abuse disorder that includes the abuse of Amytal seek addiction treatment immediately.

Amytal addiction treatment

Barbiturate addictions are less common today than they were a few decades ago, owing largely to their replacement as a form of treatment by benzodiazepines and other sedatives. 

While Amytal addiction may not be as widely damaging as it once was, those who do come into contact with the drug and become dependent on it still require treatment. This may be through an inpatient rehab center where patients can stay in a residential facility to receive treatment, or through an outpatient facility.

There are also many support groups that can help with substance use disorders, such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA) or SMART Recovery. 

Additionally, there are addiction counseling programs across the country that can help manage and overcome addiction, as well as a wide range of evidence-based therapies that are proven to be successful in achieving recovery. 

If you or someone you know is affected by addiction then visit our rehabilitation directory today to find treatment near you.