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Barbiturates

  • By: Thomas E. Baker
  • In: Encyclopedia of Drug Policy
  • Edited by: Mark A. R. Kleiman & James E. Hawdon
  • Subject:Public Policy, Drug Crimes

Barbiturates are a group of drugs that depress the central nervous system (CNS) and belong to the sedative-hypnotic classification. The basic chemical derivatives used to make barbiturates come from barbituric acid. Although there are more than 20 barbituric acid derivatives, the main differences between different barbiturates are (1) their sedative or hypnotic action at a standard dose, (2) the amount of time it takes for the barbiturate to produce effects in the user, and (3) how long those effects last. Low dosages assist patents in suppressing seizures as sedatives, and as anxiolytics to reduce high anxiety. In the past, physicians typically prescribed barbiturates for high blood pressure, epilepsy, and insomnia. Most often barbiturates helped patients relax prior to surgery, and in the treatment of mental ...

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