If there’s a thin line between love and hate as the R&B vocal group The Persuaders once declared in song, there is perhaps an even slimmer one when it comes to Amytal, the highly dangerous barbiturate medication. 

With Amytal, that thin line is the slim difference between a medical dose and a lethal one. Amytal’s ability to induce death is due to its narrow therapeutic index or the ratio of a toxic dose to a therapeutically desirable one, where one dose can sustain, and a slightly bigger one can take you out via overdose. 

Barbiturate overdose, in general, can result in coma, death, injuries or deaths from falls, according to MedlinePlus.gov.

This thin line of an index is why barbiturates have largely fallen out of favor with the medical establishment. While Amytal is one of the few drugs of its class that retains some measure of medical utility, it is still not widely used. Astonishingly, some people use it for recreational purposes, making themselves prone to a range of ruinous, life-threatening conditions. 

The dangers are also amplified if you try to quit Amytal on your own, leaving you vulnerable to its life-threatening withdrawal effects.  

When it comes to Amytal and any barbiturate for that matter, professional treatment is absolutely necessary. 

What Is Amytal?

Amytal or Amytal Sodium is the brand name for amobarbital, which works to depress the central nervous system (CNS), producing sedating, relaxing, and anticonvulsant effects. Amytal is used to treat sleep problems or exert a calming effect on a patient before a surgical procedure. 

Amytal comes in a white, odorless, crystalline powder that has a bitter taste and is water- and alcohol-soluble. 

Like other barbiturates, Amytal binds to the gamma-Aminobutyric acid or GABA receptors, stimulating them to the point where they flood the brain. As a neurotransmitter, GABA is principally responsible for slowing down the CNS. Thus, the flood of GABA that Amytal stimulates produces profound sedation in a patient and perhaps euphoria. Even more so at recreational doses where effects can resemble extreme alcohol intoxication. 

Amytal is regarded as an intermediate-acting barbiturate, exerting its sedating effects in about an hour after and oral dose and lasting between six to eight hours. 

According to RxList.com, daily Amytal use that exceeds 400 milligrams for about 90 days can produce some degree of physical dependence. A dose level between 600 and 800 mg for at least 35 days can produce withdrawal seizures. 

Amytal Withdrawal Symptoms

Except for alcohol, few drugs are as dangerous in withdrawal as barbiturates. Barbiturates such as Amytal are capable of generating life-threatening effects. 

According to WebMD, barbiturates can produce the following withdrawal symptoms:

  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Distorted vision
  • Delirium
  • Anxiety
  • Hallucinations
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle twitching
  • Tremor
  • Low blood pressure
  • Convulsions
  • Death

What Are the Stages in the Amytal Withdrawal Timeline?

As with other barbiturate medications, Amytal generates withdrawal effects designated as minor and major symptoms. However, the length and the way withdrawal shows up can differ from person to person. 

Some factors can determine the length and severity of withdrawal, such as:

  • The Amytal dose amount
  • The duration of Amytal use
  • The age and physical health of the user
  • The presence of a co-occurring mental illness
  • The use of other substances (drugs or alcohol) with Amytal

Generally speaking, the onset of minor Amytal withdrawal symptoms usually begin about eight to 12 hours after last use. 

Minor symptoms include: 

  • Tremor of hands and fingers
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Muscle twitching
  • Distortion in visual perception
  • Low blood pressure

Major symptoms of withdrawal can occur within 16 hours of the last dose and last up to five days after the abrupt stoppage of Amytal. Those major symptoms, which pose significant, life-threatening risk are:

  • Convulsions
  • Delirium

The lingering symptoms of withdrawal, known as post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS), can last even longer, resulting in anxiety, depression, cravings, and insomnia. 

Why Should I Detox?

The risk involved in quitting barbiturates cold turkey makes professional treatment a necessity. Amytal withdrawal is no different. A professional treatment program that starts with a medically supervised detox is a safe and effective means in addressing barbiturate withdrawal. 

With detox, a medical team will remove the medication from your body and treat any of the withdrawal symptoms that arise.  This team will be available around-the-clock to supervise and manage your process as you are stabilized. You will also be assessed to determine your best course of treatment going forward. 

Residential Treatment

If a client has a severe case of addiction or a co-occurring mental health issue, residential treatment can offer them a comprehensive level of care. As the name suggests, a residential program allows patients to live at the facility where they will receive treatment. This structured environment, which is free from distractions, provides clients the optimal conditions to achieve recovery. To maximize a treatment program’s effectiveness, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) recommends a 90-day residential stay.

Outpatient Treatment

Milder cases of addiction are typically recommended for outpatient treatment, which provides evidence-based therapy and care to clients while allowing them to live independently. The therapies available in outpatient treatment include:

  • Addiction education
  • Behavioral therapy
  • Group counseling
  • 12-step programs
  • Medication-assisted treatment (MAT)
  • Holistic therapy
  • Mindfulness and stress management
  • Dual diagnosis treatment
  • Relapse prevention planning
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