For the first time barbituric acid was synthesized in 1863 by the famous chemist Adolf von Bayer (Baeyer, Adolf von - 1835-1917). Since the opening was on December 4 - the day of St. Barbara - hence the first part of the name of the acid. The second part - from the English word "urea" - that is, "urine".
Widely used in medicine barbiturates began in 1903, when the drug as a sedative and hypnotics was released drug barbital (registered trade name Veronal). Soon the drug was fairly widespread.
The use of barbiturates in medical practice grew until the mid-1960s but began to decline in subsequent years. The increase in the consumption of barbiturates was due to the increasing number of patients complaining of stress. In such conditions, any sedative was initially commercially successful on the market.
Barbiturates successfully helped to fight insomnia, so there was no shortage of people willing to try them. However, with the increasing popularity of the drug, the number of cases of negative effects also increased, including cases of drug dependence. These effects led to a decrease in the use of barbiturates in medicine. Recently, they are increasingly being replaced by safer benzodiazepines. Nevertheless, barbiturates, as high-speed drugs, are still used for urgent anaesthesia, as well as for the removal of seizures and the prevention of epileptic seizures.
Now the barbiturates class includes more than two thousand different compounds, although only some of them are used for medical purposes. Usually the names of the drugs in this class end with "-al." The most common are drugs such as phenobarbital, benzobarbital, luminal, seconal, nembutal, as well as tranquilizers, librium, valium and terazine.
Action of barbiturates
After taking barbiturates begin to act after 15-40 minutes. The duration of action depends on the type of substance and lasts a total of 6 to 12 hours.
The effect of barbiturates is similar in many respects to the effect of alcohol: small doses calming and facilitating muscle relaxation; Large doses can cause unsteady gait, slurred speech, slow reflexes.
Significant doses can lead to coma or fatal outcome. The mechanism of action of drugs of this class is based on the suppression of the central nervous system. Unlike opiates, barbiturates do not cause a pronounced euphoria. But they cause a very deep pseudo-healthy sleep, which resembles a strong baby sleep. This effect forces patients to take such drugs again and again.
It is believed that barbiturates cause "black and empty oblivion", and to their use are most likely people with low self-esteem and suicidal tendencies.
Harm and dependence on barbiturates
Dynamics of barbituromania is similar to the dynamics of other types of substance abuse: prolonged reception leads to increased irritability, absent-mindedness, difficulty concentrating, memory impairments are possible. There is also hypomia, smeared speech, tremor, decreased tendon reflexes and other neurological disorders. In some cases, the patient's condition is close to pseudo-paralytic.
As for dependence, it is much stronger than an opiate. Abstinence usually proceeds very hard: already on the second - third day after stopping the reception there are insomnia, anxiety, muscle cramps, nausea and vomiting. Abstinence syndrome in some cases can cause epileptic seizures, to whom or even death.
Long-term use of barbiturates causes profound psychological shifts and often leads to suicide.
Treatment for barbiturate dependence at the initial stage should take place in the hospital, where the patient gradually reduces the dose of medications taken.
Diagnosis and treatment of barbituric dependence
As already mentioned, barbiturates cause depression of the central nervous system from a light half-asleep state up to a deep coma.
The pupils narrow. Symptoms reach their maximum in 4-6 hours after admission, in case of using long-acting drugs - after 10 hours or more.
The greatest danger of using barbiturates is associated with an overdose. Without medical supervision, taking these drugs is very dangerous, because, during a barbiturate sleep, it is possible to choke with vomiting or simply not to wake up.
"Usually everything happens as follows. Drink a little to fall asleep. Then take a couple of Nembutal capsules (barbiturate) and pour yourself in anticipation of the action of the medicine. After a while, you do not remember if you took the capsule or not, so it's better to take a couple more, to be sure. In the morning find your corpse. Even if you did not choke on your vomiting, your breathing gradually slowed, until it stopped at all..." Peter MacDermott. "LifeLine"
The risk of overdose significantly increases if the drugs are administered intravenously.
Operative help in case of an overdose consists primarily in removing barbiturates from the gastrointestinal tract. The easiest way is to take activated charcoal. In case of respiratory failure, the artificial respiration method should be used, supporting the work of the heart and lungs until the arrival of an ambulance.