Barbituratesact as depressants on the central nervous system. They reduceexcitability in the brain hence, produce a sedative and a calmeffect. Today, doctors rarely prescribe them although they play asignificant role in the medical process especially in anesthesia(Hedgesand Burchfield, 2006).They are addictive, and continuous usage tends to produce a plateauforcing the user to increase the dosage to achieve the desiredresults. This essay discusses Secobarbital (Seconal) andPhenobarbital (Luminal), examples of Barbiturates.
Secobarbital(Seconal) is a barbiturate derivative drug that possesses sedative,anesthetic, anxiolytic, anticonvulsant, and hypnotic properties. Itslows down the brain and the entire nervous system. It occurs as awhite, fragrance-free, and bitter powder that is soluble in water andalcohol, but insoluble in ether. It is used as a medication forepilepsy, insomnia, and as a preoperative medication to giveanesthesia during a short surgical, therapeutic, and diagnosticprocedure. Its range of a sedated therapeutic blood level is between0.5 and 5mcg/mL, while the usual range of lethal blood level isbetween 15 and 40mcg/mL.
Secobarbitalis habit forming. Tolerance may occur with continuous use to both thedesired and undesired effect. As tolerance develops, it increases theamount needed to maintain the same intoxication level. Symptoms of anoral overdose are visible after fifteen minutes of consumption thatstarts with central nervous system depression, hypotension,hypothermia, under ventilation, and it may progress to pulmonaryedema or even death. In an extreme overdose, the brain’s electricalactivity cease. However, this effect is reversible in case there wasno hypoxic damage. Its plasma half-life ranges from fifteen to fortyhours with a mean of twenty-eight hours in adults (Brennerand Stevens, 2013).However, there are no available data for newborns and pediatricpatients. It shows up on a routine blood test in one to two days, inurine tests in two to ten days, and in saliva tests in one to tendays after consumption. It has adverse effects including addiction,severe allergic reaction, breathing difficulties, dizziness,tiredness, excitation, loss of appetite, headache, anxiety, nausea,or vomiting.
Phenobarbital(Luminal) drug belong to the class of barbiturate anticonvulsants. Itis a medication recommended for treatment of epilepsy, anxiety, drugwithdrawal, or seizure. Its role is to control the brain’s abnormalelectrical activity causing it to calm down. It can either be takenorally or injected into the muscles. Its range of a sedatedtherapeutic blood level is between 10 and 40mcg/L. It has a veryactive plasma half-life of 53 to 118 hours with an average of 79hours in adults. In children and newborns, it has a half-life of 60to 180 hours with an average of 110 hours (Brenneret. al., 2013).It reaches its peak plasma concentration after eight to twelve hoursafter oral administration. In fact, it is the longest-actingbarbiturate, and it remains in the body for a long life. Therefore,patients do not have to take it daily.
Phenobarbitalis habit-forming. If one starts taking it and suddenly stops, he orshe may experience anxiety, muscle twitching, uncontrollable shaking,nausea, vomiting, or sleeping disorder. Overdose symptoms includeblisters, drowsiness, uncontrollable eye movements, loss ofcoordination, slowed breathing, and low body temperature. Similar toSecobarbital, its tolerance increases after a prolonged continuoususe of high dosage. Correspondingly, the amount needed to maintainthe same intoxication level also increases (Hedgeset. al., 2006).The margin between fatal and intoxicating margin becomes small. Ithas adverse effects including a headache, loss of appetite, vomiting,nausea, tiredness, slow heartbeat, dizziness, and drowsiness.
Brenner,G. M., & Stevens, C. W. (2013). Pharmacology.Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier/Saunders.
Hedges,D., & Burchfield, C. (2006). Mind,brain, and drug: An introduction to psychopharmacology.Boston: Pearson/Allyn and Bacon.