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Amytal Addiction

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Amytal is one of the few remaining barbiturates still occasionally prescribed today. 

This form of barbiturate was routinely used as a sedative or relaxant before the introduction of benzodiazepines in the 1960s.’ 

Although Amytal is seldom used today, the medication can lead to addiction, and it also has a high potential for accidental overdose. As such, Amytal is only suitable for short-term treatment.

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What is Amytal?

Amytal Sodium is a popular brand name for amobarbital, a barbiturate derivative. 

Barbiturates are sedative-hypnotic drugs administered to treat sleep disorders. This class of drug can also be used as a pre-anesthetic for surgeries performed in a clinical setting. Prescribed in small doses, barbiturates like Amytal can be effective anti-convulsants. 

Amytal is classified as a CNS depressant for its action on the central nervous system. Amobarbital’s mechanism of action leads to an increase in the production of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) in the brain. This triggers the following effects: 

  • Relaxes muscles
  • Calms nerves
  • Slows the CNS
  • Induces sleep

Amytal Sodium is usually manufactured in the form of a white odorless powder. The barbiturate is also available in tablet form. 

A medical professional will administer Amytal by intravenous injection after first dissolving the salt in liquid. Only doctors and licensed medical practitioners are permitted to administer Amytal. The drug is not prescribed for use at home. 

Benzodiazepines were introduced to the market as a purportedly less addictive alternative to barbiturates. These claims were shown to be questionable with benzos having a significant potential for abuse and addiction. Nevertheless, by the 2000s, amobarbital pills like Dexamyl and Tuinal were removed from the market and made legally available only via intravenous injection.

The United States is currently the only country worldwide that still uses barbiturates for medical purposes. 

Some U.S. medical professionals choose to administer this barbiturate for the following reasons: 

  • Rapid onset of action
  • Potency
  • Effectiveness 

These are the most common doses of Amytal: 

  • For sedation: 15mg to 50mg
  • For sleep: 65mg to 200mg 

The FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) banned the tablet form of Amytal. Regrettably, barbiturates are still sometimes available on the black market in the U.S. common street names for Amytal include:

  • Downers
  • Blue Devils
  • Bluebirds
  • Blue Heaven
  • Blue Velvets
  • Red
  • Redbirds
  • Lilly 33s

Amytal Drug Addiction

Amytal is a Schedule II controlled substances. Like all drugs in this class, Amytal has recognized medical utility, but the drug also carries a high risk of abuse, dependence, and addiction. 

You can no longer obtain prescriptions for Amytal because it is now only available as an injectable administered by a medical professional in controlled conditions. It is illegal to possess Amytal in the United States.

From the 1930s to the 1990s, barbiturates like Amytal, Tuinal, and Dexamyl were among the most commonly abused substances in the United States. Barbiturates were implicated in the fatal overdoses of both actress Marilyn Monroe and rock star Jimi Hendrix. 

Like other depressants of the central nervous system, Amytal is abused for its sedative properties. When taken in higher doses than prescribed, Amytal can induce intoxication similar to that triggered by alcohol, resulting in: 

  • Increased and misplaced confidence
  • Reduced inhibitions
  • Euphoria
  • Slurred speech
  • Impaired motor coordination 

Those who abuse Amytal either: 

  • Snort the powder
  • Dissolve the powder into liquid for intravenous use

Any form of abuse can lead to the rapid development of Amytal drug addiction. The addictive potential of the drug was the leading reason for tight federal regulation and the administration of Amytal only by intravenous injection under controlled conditions. 

Amytal causes changes in brain chemistry, meaning that tolerance to this barbiturate can develop after two weeks of regular use. When tolerance to a drug forms, its effects diminish as your body becomes accustomed to its presence. Many people abusing Amytal try to counteract tolerance by taking more of the drug or more frequent doses of the drug. This is liable to accelerate the onset of physical dependence. If you become dependent on a barbiturate like Amytal, you will require the medication to function normally. Intensely unpleasant withdrawal symptoms will present when the effects of Amytal wear off. 

Tolerance and withdrawal are both diagnostic criteria for Amytal addiction, classified as a substance use disorder according to DSM-5-TR (the latest edition of APA’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). 

While there is no cure for addiction – substance use disorder is a chronic and relapsing brain condition – Amytal addiction responds favorably to evidence-based treatment. Before you engage with professional addiction treatment, though, you will first need to detox from Amytal.

Amytal Withdrawal and Detox

If you use Amytal or another barbiturate for more than two weeks, you are at risk of developing: 

  • Physical tolerance
  • Physical dependence
  • Psychological addiction 

If you discontinue use of Amytal after you have become dependent on the drug, your system will struggle to cope in its absence, resulting in the manifestation of uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. 

While everyone will have a unique experience of drug detox and withdrawal, amobarbital withdrawal typically unfolds over the following phases: 

  • Discontinue use of Amytal under medical supervision
  • Management of initial withdrawal symptoms
  • Ongoing management of withdrawal symptoms
  • Inpatient or outpatient treatment for Amytal addiction 

Discontinue use of Amytal under medical supervision

Whether you make an active choice to stop using Amytal or you run out of amobarbital, withdrawal symptoms will present as a physical and emotional response to cessation of use. 

Consult your primary healthcare provider for guidance when you quit using Amytal. If you are dependent on barbiturates, a supervised medical detox is advisable. 

Management of initial withdrawal symptoms

Some initial withdrawal symptoms may manifest 8 to 12 hours after the last dose of amobarbital. Symptoms can be mild to severe, according to the dose of Amytal and can be exacerbated by the following factors: 

  • Other medications
  • Other addictive substances
  • Co-occurring mental health conditions
  • Underlying medical issues 

The initial symptoms of Amytal withdrawal can include: 

  • Headaches
  • Agitation
  • Insomnia
  • Twitching
  • Shakiness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Initial withdrawal from Amytal usually lasts for four days, with symptoms gradually increasing in intensity. Withdrawal from barbiturates can be most effectively managed in a clinical setting. 

Ongoing management of withdrawal symptoms

Some people detoxing from Amytal develop full-bore withdrawal syndrome that begins 2 to 4 days from the last use of the medication. If this occurs, expect the following physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms: 

  • Anxiety
  • Dizziness
  • Restlessness
  • Tremors
  • Insomnia
  • Psychosis
  • Seizures 

With the right treatment, withdrawal symptoms subside after between 5 and 15 days, depending on the extent of Amytal abuse. 

Inpatient or outpatient treatment for Amytal addiction

While detoxing from Amytal addresses the issue of physical dependence, you will benefit from ongoing treatment in an inpatient or outpatient setting to unpack the psychological aspect of barbiturate addiction. We can help you with that here at California Detox.

Amytal Rehab at California Detox

Here at California Detox in Orange County, we can help you reclaim your life from Amytal addiction, or addiction to any other barbiturate. 

We understand that all addictions are unique, and that everyone has different circumstances and recovery goals. As such, we are delighted to offer addiction treatment programs at all levels on American Society of Addiction Medicine’s continuum of care. Choose from the following California Detox programs: 

  • Residential rehab (inpatient program)
  • Outpatient program
  • IOP (intensive outpatient program)
  • Virtual IOP (remote rehab program)
  • PHP (partial hospitalization program)
  • Dual diagnosis (for co-occurring disorders) 

We can also help you to withdraw from Amytal as safely as possible at our licensed medical detox center. Take advantage of medications, clinical, and emotional care to streamline your withdrawal and to build the firmest foundation for ongoing therapy. All of our programs personalize treatment from the following interventions:

  • Medication-assisted treatment
  • Individual counseling
  • Group therapy
  • Psychotherapy (CBT and DBT)
  • Family therapy
  • Holistic therapy 

When you are ready to reclaim your life from Amytal addition, call admissions at 949.390.5377.


Amytal is a CNS depressant that has sedative effects when prescribed to help people sleep or calm down. The primary effects of Amytal are: 

  • Slows the CNS
  • Calms nerves
  • Relaxes muscles
  • Induces sleep

Physicians prescribe Adderall for the treatment of ADHD and narcolepsy. In patients with narcolepsy, Adderall decreases fatigue. When prescribed for those with ADHD, Adderall reduces impulsive behaviors and hyperactivity, while also improving attention and focus.


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