Amobarbital Detox: Signs, Symptoms & Treatment of Amobarbital Withdrawal


Amobarbital abuse can lead to dependence and addiction.

Amobarbital is a drug no longer available for commercial use in the United States but that many individuals are still able to get ahold of and abuse. It belongs to the drug class of barbiturates, which are central nervous system depressants that can cause intense dependence when used often and in high enough doses. Dependence and tolerance both form with frequent use, as well as addiction if the drug is being abused. Those who become dependent will require intensive treatment in an amobarbital detox facility, and often, treatment in a rehab center afterward for addiction. Without this kind of professional care, it can be difficult for an individual to overcome this substance use disorder, and in many cases, serious side effects can occur such as relapse and overdose.

Understanding Amobarbital Abuse

According to the Open Chemistry Database, amobarbital was once prescribed in the United States for the short-term treatment of insomnia. Usually, the drug was not prescribed for longer than 2 weeks, as this was a way to prevent dependence in patients. However, people often begin abusing drugs after taking them medically, and the high potential for abuse is part of the reason the drug is no longer used commercially in the U.S. Unfortunately, many individuals are still able to get ahold of amobarbital or amobarbital sodium and abuse it.

  • Amobarbital is a barbiturate drug, which is a kind of central nervous system depressant like benzodiazepines (alprazolam, lorazepam, etc.) or sleep medications (zolpidem, eszopiclone).
  • As stated by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, these are some of the most commonly abused drugs on the market because of the effects they cause, including
    • Short-term effects like drowsiness, dizziness, memory loss, euphoria, and relaxation
    • Long-term effects like tolerance, cravings, dependence, and addiction
  • People who take amobarbital may start out using it as prescribed, but sometimes, they will take more and more (or continue taking it even after they were meant to stop) because they feel so good while they’re on the drug.

Any time a person takes amobarbital without a prescription or in a different way than prescribed (such as more often, in larger doses, or through a different method like snorting), it is considered abuse.

Amobarbital Abuse and Dependence

When a person takes a barbiturate drug for several weeks or more, consistently and in large doses, this can lead to dependence. However, most people who are taking amobarbital are doing so without a prescription, so this is considered abuse. Whether an individual is abusing this drug or not, they can become dependent if they take it consistently for a long time.

The signs of dependence include

  • Needing the drug to get out of bed, to fall asleep, etc.
  • Needing the drug to function through one’s day to day life
  • Worrying about what will happen if one is unable to use more of the drug
  • Experiencing intense physical and/or psychological withdrawal symptoms if unable to obtain more of the drug

Amobarbital Withdrawal

Barbiturate withdrawal is one of the more dangerous forms of withdrawal. Certain drugs cause withdrawal symptoms that can be uncomfortable but usually aren’t life-threatening. However, amobarbital withdrawal is similar to delirium tremens (which is a medical emergency that can occur during alcohol withdrawal) or benzodiazepine withdrawal.

Without the proper treatment, patients can experience circulatory failure, according to the medical journal Annali Italiani Di Medicina Interna. This is a common and serious side effect experienced by those who become dependent on amobarbital, and it is absolutely necessary for these individuals to receive safe, professional detox treatment in a facility. This will involve treating their withdrawal symptoms and slowly weaning them off their dependence on the drug.

Signs and Symptoms of Amobarbital Withdrawal

Amobarbital withdrawal is dangerous and easy to recognize, especially if you are aware that you or your loved one is dependent on this drug. Look for the signs and symptoms below in order to confirm that someone is, in fact, going through this serious syndrome.

  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Slowed breathing
  • Dizziness
  • Seizures
  • Shaking
  • Tremors
  • Headaches
  • Sensitivity
  • Hyperthermia
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Cravings for the drug
  • Psychosis

Some people do not experience the psychotic symptoms associated with amobarbital withdrawal, but it is important to be aware that they can always occur. Usually, this happens in the first week of one’s syndrome. People undergoing the psychotic effects of amobarbital withdrawal may experience

  • Violent behavior
  • Homicidal or suicidal thoughts
  • Fear
  • Intense paranoia and/or anxiety
  • Hallucinations

Timeline of Amobarbital Withdrawal

Amobarbital withdrawal usually lasts for a few weeks, often 4 at the most. In the first 24 hours, individuals are usually at severe risk for developing life-threatening symptoms such as psychosis, hyperthermia, or slowed breathing.

  • First 24 hours: The Toxicology Data Network states that withdrawal symptoms for amobarbital usually begin to occur 8 to 12 hours after the last use of the drug. The individual must be monitored closely for any changing symptoms. They are likely to experience mood swings, insomnia, and an increased heart rate and body temperature.
  • Week 1: Insomnia, mood swings, and irritability tend to linger through the first week of amobarbital withdrawal, and some individuals may experience sudden bouts of psychosis up to the end of the first week of withdrawal. Seizures can also occur during this time.
    • During the first 72 hours, patients are at their highest risk of experiencing severe medical issues.
  • Week 2: Depression, anxiety, irritability, and mood swings will often last through this week, although people are usually no longer in danger of experiencing life-threatening symptoms such as seizures and psychosis at this point. Insomnia will often last into week two.
  • Week 3: Physical withdrawal symptoms will begin to fade at this time, although they may last into the fourth week of withdrawal. Most individuals stop experiencing insomnia to an intense degree, but it can still be difficult to sleep through the night.
  • Week 4: The fourth week of withdrawal will start to see individuals feeling more like themselves. The more intense psychological and physical effects will disappear, and the individual will likely experience milder symptoms at this point or afterward. For the most part, the withdrawal will end after the fourth week.

Not every individual’s timeline is the same, however, and this should be taken into account for every person who seeks amobarbital withdrawal treatment. Different options may need to be utilized at different times in order to keep the patient safe and healthy.

Dangers of Amobarbital Withdrawal

As you can see, the symptoms of this withdrawal syndrome can become extremely dangerous in some instances. It is important to understand why these symptoms are so risky and how you can avoid serious effects of amobarbital withdrawal.

  • Seizures are one of the most serious potential side effects of amobarbital detox. Patients must be monitored at all times for signs of oncoming seizures, especially early on in withdrawal.
  • Depression can be dangerous, as can anxiety. Some individuals experience severe symptoms, including suicidal thoughts. Those who do will require intensive care and monitoring to protect them from acting on these thoughts.
  • Those individuals who do experience psychotic symptoms may require sedation for the duration of their psychosis as well as constant monitoring in a hospitalized facility.

Unlike some other withdrawal syndromes, amobarbital is unpredictable and can worsen suddenly and without warning. The dangerous symptoms can always suddenly occur, and it is necessary that proper treatment is received in preparation for any of these symptoms.

Am I Dependent on Amobarbital?

If you are unsure if you are dependent on amobarbital, ask yourself the questions below. They can help you determine if you require treatment for this syndrome.

  • Do I use amobarbital every day?
  • Do I need to take it in order to feel good, get out of bed, fall asleep, etc.?
  • If I am unable to use the drug, do I experience discomfort, fear, or anger?
  • Have my friends and family members showed concern about my amobarbital use?
  • Am I getting amobarbital illegally in order to continue feeling good while on the drug?
  • Have I ever experienced intense psychological or physical symptoms if I wasn’t able to obtain the drug?
  • Do I experience cravings for amobarbital?
  • If I stopped using it, would my body have to readjust to the drug’s absence in a way that might be uncomfortable, harmful, or dangerous to me or to others?

If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, you are clearly dependent on the drug. And if you do not believe you will be able to stop using amobarbital on your own, you are probably already addicted to the drug, which often goes hand-in-hand with dependence.

Should I Go Through Amobarbital Withdrawal at Home?

No one should attempt to go through amobarbital withdrawal at home. Those who do could potentially experience dangerous symptoms like the ones listed above, and without the proper care, they could be at risk of a deadly outcome. If you are planning to go through amobarbital detox at home, remember that dangerous and even life-threatening withdrawal symptoms can come on suddenly and without warning, sometimes requiring emergency treatment.

If you are not in a safe environment with medical professionals monitoring your symptoms, it could be extremely dangerous for you to go through these symptoms. Also, the farther away you are from a hospital or similar facility, the longer it will take for you to receive the proper treatment and become stabilized again.

Amobarbital Detox Treatment

According to DailyMed, any patient who has been taking excessive amounts of barbiturate drugs must be slowly weaned off the medication in a professional environment. This is what detox treatment does.

  • Patients are brought into their treatment facilities and assessed for the severity of their symptoms. This can include vocal assessments or drug tests. Other tests of the patient’s breathing, heart rate, etc. may also be involved.
  • The individual will often be given medication to treat any symptoms of withdrawal. In the case of amobarbital, patients will often be weaned off a different central nervous system depressant so their symptoms will be milder as they go through the process of withdrawal.
    • Some patients may need to be sedated early on in withdrawal if they are experiencing dangerous symptoms such as seizures or psychosis.
  • Over time, the individual’s dependence on the drug will lessen as they are weaned off their medication and their withdrawal symptoms will begin to subside. The patient may also attend therapy sessions to discuss and learn to cope with their withdrawal symptoms and to prepare them for rehab.

What Happens After Detox?

After detox, rehab is a must for anyone who has been abusing amobarbital. As stated by the NIDA, detox only treats dependence, and patients who leave the program still require rehab treatment in order to fully recover from addiction. Otherwise, they will no longer be dependent on the drug but will still be addicted, which can lead to relapse and overdose.

Some patients require multiple treatment programs in order to stay sober and avoid returning to amobarbital abuse. This is perfectly acceptable. After all, every individual is different and requires treatment that suits their specific needs.


  1. Open Chemistry Database. (2009). Amobarbital- 7.3 Therapeutic Uses.
  2. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Commonly Abused Drugs- Central Nervous System Depressants.
  3. Annali Italiani Di Medicina Interna. (1998). Barbiturate Withdrawal Syndrome: A Case Associated With the Abuse of a Headache Medication.
  4. Toxicology Data Network. (2009). Amobarbital.
  5. Daily Med- U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2017). Amytal Sodium- Amobarbital Sodium Injection, Powder, Lyophilized, for Solution.
  6. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2016). Understanding Drug Abuse and Addiction: What Science Says- 8: Medical Detoxification. 
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