Barbiturate Addiction: Definition, History, and Further Readings

Barbiturate addiction is a type of substance use disorder in which a person develops a dependence on a barbiturate, a drug used for sedation and to treat certain medical conditions. This type of addiction can lead to significant health and social problems. This article provides an overview of barbiturate addiction, including its definition, history, and further readings.


Barbiturates are central nervous system (CNS) depressants, which means that they slow down the activities of the brain and body. They are used to treat anxiety, seizures, and insomnia, and are also used as general anesthetics for medical procedures. Barbiturates are highly addictive and have a potential for abuse and misuse. When taken regularly, tolerance and physical dependence can develop, leading to addiction.


Barbiturates were first synthesized in the late 19th century and were initially used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders. They quickly became popular due to their relatively safe and effective effects, and were used in a variety of medical treatments. By the mid-20th century, barbiturates were among the most commonly prescribed drugs in the world.

However, their popularity soon began to decline due to their potential for addiction and misuse. The introduction of benzodiazepines in the 1960s led to a decrease in barbiturate use, as these drugs were perceived to be safer and less addictive.

Today, barbiturates are rarely used, as they are perceived to be highly addictive and dangerous. They are only prescribed in certain circumstances, such as when other drugs are not effective or when the patient cannot tolerate other medications.

Further Readings

Gore, B. L., & Legget, C. (2020). Barbiturate Abuse. StatPearls [Internet]. Retrieved from

Gorelick, D. A. (2015). Barbiturates: Licit and Illicit Drug Abuse. In The American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Substance Abuse Treatment (5th ed., pp. 204-214). American Psychiatric Association.

Heilig, M., & Koob, G. F. (2010). The Neurobiology of Addiction: An Integrated View. Neuropsychopharmacology, 35(1), 217-238.

Shah, A., & Atreja, A. (2013). Barbiturates. In StatPearls [Internet]. StatPearls Publishing. Retrieved from

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