Citation: ASB. "Hooked on Them Since Age 19: An Experience with Barbiturates (exp111872)". Erowid.org. May 8, 2018. erowid.org/exp/111872
Modern Barbiturate Abuse
Meprobamate, Butalbital, Phenobarbital, Secobarbital, Ephedrine, Benzodiazepines
The doses described in this report are potentially life threatening. The amount taken is beyond a heavy dose and could pose serious health risks or result in unwanted, extreme effects. Doses such as this have been known to cause hospitalizations and/or deaths. Sometimes extremely high doses reported are errors rather than actual doses used.]
I am a barbiturate addict, and have been hooked on them since I was 19 years old. I have used basically every ‘mainstream’ drug there is, but was always on barbiturates throughout my other drug use phases. I abused them for over ten years. I was born in 1989, am currently 29 years of age, and live in a sober living environment. When I tell others that my ‘drug of choice’ is barbiturates, they usually ask ‘what is that?’ Other frequent questions include ‘where did you find them’ and ‘how do they feel’?
There is not much information on the barbiturate class of drugs in our current era, and most think (rightly so) that barbiturates went out the window in the 1980s due to rampant overdoses. However, some barbiturates are still available, and I was able to get my hands on them at a young age. As there is very, very scarce information on barbiturates in today’s literature, I am going to chronicle my experience with this class of drugs and describe their effects and the experience of being extremely addicted to them.
I want to state straight away that barbiturates and barbiturate-like drugs are EXTREMELY dangerous, and have extreme side effects that can last for a lifetime if abused. They are very, very different than benzodiazepines. The therapeutic index of barbiturates is extremely small – when addicted to these drugs, tolerance increases rapidly, and a dose to get a person ‘high’ soon becomes a technical ‘overdose’. THESE DRUGS KILL.
I was a rampant benzodiazepine abuser since the age of 13. By 19, I had tried every single legal benzodiazepine on the market, and always had a running script for more than one. As there is plenty of information on benzodiazepines, I will not go into my addiction to them. I will state that when using my barbiturates, I almost always mixed them with large doses of benzodiazepines.
At 19 years old, I was so obsessed with sedative / anxiolytic RX drugs that I slept with a PDR next to my bed.
I slept with a PDR next to my bed.
I discovered that Soma (Carispodal) turned into meprobamate when it hit the liver. I had used Soma plenty of times over the years, and liked it, but found it to be an unreliable high. I wanted pure meprobamate, and found a doctor willing to prescribe it. She scripted me #30 400mg Equanil, a brand name for pure meprobamate. Once I felt the effects of meprobamate, I was off and running. I had found the drug that I always wanted, the feeling I always craved – numbness, and a complete lack of care, to the point that someone could be shot in front of me and I wouldn’t blink an eye.
EQUANIL (Meprobamate 400mg)
DOSE: 1200mg to 4600mg
EFFECTS: This is a very, very different drug than Soma (Carispodal) – much stronger, longer acting, and intense. Meprobamate is extremely pleasant, deadly, and as addictive as a ‘pure’ barbiturate. It starts to take effect about 30 mins after oral ingestion and is best taken on an empty stomach, though naďve users often get nauseous due to the dizziness.
The first effects are felt in the body – a tingling and numbness overcomes the body, and a jello-like feeling takes hold in my legs, making it hard to walk in a straight line. Numbness in the face is usually present, and is pleasant feeling. Dizziness is also present, and increases with the dose. A very ‘floaty’ feeling is felt, and laying down and doing nothing becomes ‘fun’.
Psychologically, meprobamate is similar to a ‘pure’ barbiturate. Euphoria starts to take hold as soon as the body high is felt. A feeling of calmness and carefreeness is felt, and increases with the dose. Loss of inhibition is felt. It is a very ‘social’ feeling drug – talkativeness is common, I personally always wanted to be around people when on this drug. It is more ‘social’ than barbiturates are, and has less loss of inhibition. Higher doses (1200mg and above) do produce a blackout, similar to that of alcohol or benzodiazepines, but more intense. Drinking on this drug makes it so that I am basically couch bound, and it can induce nausea and dizziness. Effects last for about 2 hours, and re-dosing is effective but less intense.
TOLERANCE / WITHDRAWAL: Tolerance gains rapidly, just as quickly as a barbiturate. Due to the fact that I was abusing the drug, I began to need higher doses in about a week. I personally ended up maxing out at around 4k to 4.6k mgs, and at that dose I was blacking out every time. This was my first withdrawal from a sedative other than a benzodiazepine, and it is much different than the latter. Meprobamate has a somewhat long half life, but withdrawal effects are felt sooner than the half life suggests. Symptoms include delirium, shaking, full on panic attacks that last all day, and strong derealization / depersonalization. I had to be medically withdrawn from Meprobamate, and even with the detox medications (which were at a higher doses than normal), negative effects could still be felt.
OVERALL: Meprobamate is basically a barbiturate, and has the same side effects and dangers as the barbiturate class of drugs. The high is somewhat more euphoric than Phenobarbital, but less pleasurable than other barbiturates. I would say the abuse potential is extremely high. Europe took all meprobamate substances off the market in 2012.
After I withdrew from meprobamate, I still craved that numb, carefree feeling. I had 4 years of sobriety afterwards, but when I decided to start using drugs again, I hit the jackpot; I found a ‘dirty’ doctor that was willing to prescribe mostly whatever I wanted. He did refuse to RX meprobamate, saying it was outdated. I complained of headaches, and began to abuse Fioricet, a combination drug that was comprised of 50mg of Butalbital / 325mg APAP / 40mg Caffeine. Obviously, I was after the Butalbital. Out of all the drugs I explain here, Butalbital was my biggest addiction. I couldn’t live without it, and despite it being a CIII, my doctor allowed me countless early refills. He would prescribe me #90 Fioricet alongside a large amount of a benzodiazepine. I almost always mixed my Fioricet with a benzodiazepine.
Some medications contain acetaminophen/paracetamol in combination with other drugs. When taking large amounts of those mixed medications, the amount of acetaminophen can become toxic to the liver. Deaths have been reported at 10 grams of acetaminophen and accidental acetaminophen over dose is a cause of liver failure. Maximum recommended daily dosage is 4 grams. People with liver disease or regular users of other liver-loads such as alcohol should probably use less than 4 grams per day.]
FIORICET (Butalbital 50mg / APAP 325mg/ Caffeine 40mg)
DOSE: 800mg to 1750mg (Butalbital)
EFFECTS: Butalbital is a noxious substance and extremely powerful, especially when combined with caffeine. Effects begin 15 to 30 mins on an empty stomach. The body high begins first. Barbiturates have a unique body high that are apparent no matter which particular barbiturate it is; Numbness of the face, extreme floating feeling in the core of the body, and complete loss of motor skill (especially at higher doses) are all common with every barbituratic substance. It is a pleasurable feeling in my opinion. One of the biggest differences of benzodiazepines and barbiturates is this body high – barbiturates produce an extremely strong effect on the physical body. At 800mg of butalbital and up, it is extremely difficult to walk a straight line – I would personally walk into inanimate objects like trees or parked cars. Walking at doses over 1000mg of butalbital is a serious challenge; motor skill coordination is at a zero. Lying down is extremely pleasurable, and waves of bodily pleasure radiate. It is a hard feeling to describe. Also, sleep comes whenever I want (as with any barbiturate), and is dreamless and dark. Friends of mine would poke me with forks and knives when I fell asleep after large doses, and nothing would wake me.
The psychological effects are also extremely potent – it has a ‘hard’ euphoria with a complete loss of inhibition – it is impossibly easy to commit a crime on this drug, emotions are not felt at all. A god-like feeling of ‘not caring’ is the strongest aspect – if I had been robbed at gunpoint on this substance, I would probably break up into laughter. I cannot stress enough the dangers of the disinhibition of butalbital, it leads to extremely bad decisions. It does completely erase stress and worry, but to a point of sociopathy, one feels like they are on top of the world and nothing can touch them.
Another huge issue is blackouts – anything over 500mg is a black out dose. Due to the caffeine in the tablet, I could walk around and feel energetic despite the downer effects of the butalbital, making it even more dangerous. I would do things and not remember them 5 minutes later. I was in a daily black out for years. The black outs are much more intense and longer lasting than the benzodiazepine family. There are no fragments of memory at all. Pleasurable? Absolutely. It completely numbs any feeling or emotion and replaces it with chemical induced euphoria. The downside is the danger of the substance itself, like all barbiturates, a dose for enjoyment is a complete blackout / overdose dose.
TOLERANCE / WITHDRAWAL: To sum it up, awful. I started with 500mg and within days needed 800mg. I overdosed countless times, on one occasion taking 30 pills within a 24-hour period – as this is a combo formulation, I had taken a lethal dose of APAP and quickly went to the ER. The doctor told me that if I hadn’t been a full-blown barbiturate addict, I would have died; barbiturates speed up the liver, and somehow I had passed all the APAP safely. Butalbital has a 35-hour half-life, but just like meprobamate, it builds in your system with repeated doses.
Physical effects are very pronounced and include massive shakiness and seizures. I seized countless times off of butalbital. Psychological effects are even worse – it feels like walking underwater, the depersonalization and derealization is so intense that even with detoxification medication it is extremely prominent. Pure hell, just awful.
OVERALL: The high of butalbital is incredible. That being said, Fioricet / Butalbital is one of the most dangerous substances on the market, especially since it contains APAP and caffeine – the APAP takes a toll on your liver, while the caffeine allows for ‘waking blackouts’. Fioricet is considered a ‘last resort’ for its indicated headache relief, and most modern doctors won’t RX this anymore. As of 2018, it is extremely rare to come across a drug addict that has even heard of Fioricet.
After getting over my Fioricet addiction, I found a psychologist that began scripting me incredible doses of benzodiazepines, and I was off and running again. I had him convinced that I was an opiate abuser and had no issues abusing anxiolytics, when in fact those were what I wanted. After cycling through high-powered benzodiazepines, I suggested barbiturate therapy. He was iffy about it, and refused to script any butalbital or short acting barbiturates, but was willing to script me phenobarbital, which started one of the worst addictions I’ve ever had in my life. Towards the end, he was RXing me 400mg of phenobarbital in a single dose. I had to go to a shady pharmacy due to the dose level and the fact that 100mg phenobarbital tablets are extremely rare and have to be special ordered. During this time, I was also drinking copious amounts of alcohol on top of phenobarbital
I was also drinking copious amounts of alcohol on top of phenobarbital
, which is a sure fire way to overdose unless you are extremely tolerant to barbiturates, and even then it’s still an overdose.
LUMINAL (Phenobarbital 100mg)
DOSE: 800mg to 3,000mg
EFFECTS: Phenobarbital is the most powerful of the whole barbiturate family, and also by and away the most dangerous - it has a long half life, which creates massive problems for the barbiturate addicted person. It is by and away the most ‘dose dependent’ barbiturate – I can take 800mg, and be just as high when I awake the next morning. . It is also the least ‘pleasurable’ of the barbiturates in my opinion, and lacks the hard euphoria that some of the other barbiturate compounds create.
Effects come on slower than other barbiturates, and peak about 1.5 hours after oral ingestion. It starts with the classic barbiturate body high, including the numbness and loss of motor control, but is much stronger than any other barbiturate. Any dose above 800mg makes it a challenge to even walk a short distance without falling. Anything over 1000mg means that I have to hold onto the walls to stabilize myself when walking. I personally have fallen over flat on my face while standing straight up. Dizziness is much stronger than with any other barbiturate, and causes massive nausea for those not accustomed to it. This is the only barbiturate that I injured myself on, falling eight feet from the top of a gate onto hard concrete -and the CNS effects are so strong that I just got up and walked away (I actually had slipped a disk). I personally enjoyed the body high that phenobarbital created, it is like other barbiturates on steroids, and can make me go into a ‘nod out’ state that is similar to opiates. Sleeping is easy, and again dreamless and blank. Waking up after ingesting a large dose creates a strong hangover feeling, but I also still wake up highly intoxicated. Even for a barbiturate addict, phenobarbital is unpleasurable; the physical effects are extremely strong.
Psychologically, phenobarbital does create euphoria, but not in the same way as other barbiturates do – the euphoria is a result of the extreme loss of inhibition, and the feeling of ‘not caring’; it erases emotion and feeling, but unlike others in this family of drugs, does not replace it with a chemical induced euphoria. I feel emotionless and not caring about anything (accompanied with an extremely strong body high). It also affects mood – I personally became a monster on this drug, becoming angry and mean, mostly due to the extreme disinhibition created by this drug. I wasn’t afraid of stealing, driving, fighting, etc. A friend wanted to see what a barbiturate felt like, and she had never tried them. I gave her a dose of 200mg, but she took another 200mg for a total of 400mg in a barbiturate naďve person – she ended up hating it, and said it felt like ‘drinking a handle in a shot’, and that she became extremely irritated at everything.
Blackouts are unavoidable, and last for the duration of the high, or the duration of the drug being in my bloodstream. Compared to other barbiturates, the blackouts created by phenobarbital are extremely intense, and there is zero memory. During high doses, I can ‘wake up’ in different places, and then all of a sudden be somewhere else with no memory of how I got there – similar to alcohol, but much more intense. Additionally, the physical effects are so strong that when mixed with other drugs or substances, passing out is unavoidable, and there were many times that I had to be ‘dragged’ into bed after passing out in a hallway.
The biggest thing about phenobarbital is its massive half life. When abusing this drug, it built up in my system and I eventually became stoned on phenobarbital 24/7. There was not a second that I wasn’t intoxicated to some degree.
TOLERANCE / WITHDRAWAL: Tolerance is less rapid than that of other barbiturates, but as I was already an addict it still increased. I needed at least 1,200mg to 1,700mg to get a good ‘high’; I remember running low and only having 500mg, and the only reason I felt anything was because it was already in my bloodstream. Redosing phenobarbital just boosted what I already had in my system. The withdrawal process for phenobarbital addiction is somewhat less intense than that of shorter acting barbiturates due to its long half life. Ironically, the only way to detox from phenobarbital is to use phenobarbital, and taper down slowly. Due to the long half life, I never experienced any withdrawal symptoms of this drug because it was always in my bloodstream. That being said, phenobarbital has the biggest overdose risk of any barbiturate in my opinion. A barbiturate naďve user can overdose from just a cocktail and 400mg. Additionally, due to the inevitable blackouts, I always ended up taking more when I didn’t need it.
I ended up overdosing very badly towards the end of my drug use on phenobarbital. I had unknowingly ingested around 3,000mg, and the serum level of phenobarbital in my system was so lethal that I ended up in the ICU for a week, and then another week out of the ICU in the hospital. Doctors were shocked, and stated that if I hadn’t been a barbiturate addict I would have died.
OVERALL: The long half life and strength of this drug is incredibly dangerous. The high is unique among barbiturates in that it has more of a ‘body high’ and less euphoria.
During my phenobarbital abuse, I came across someone who had access to Seconal (secobarbital sodium). Seconal is heralded as the ‘holy grail’ of barbiturates, known as ‘reds’ or ‘red devils’ to those around in the 1970s. It is a short acting barbiturate with a long history of abuse. The person I knew who had access to them had a unique combination form of this substance called a ‘pulvule’– it was a red capsule that contained 48.5mg of secobarbital and 25.5mg of ephedrine salts (I had to convert this from ‘grains’, which is how barbiturates used to be measured out). The capsules were old, but still effective. I do not know if age affects the strength of barbiturates – the general consensus that I’ve heard is that age doesn’t affect the strength, or if it does it’s very little. In the 60s and 70s, barbiturates were frequently mixed with other barbiturates or stimulants – I was ‘lucky’ enough to experience this mixture.
SECONAL PULVULES (Secobarbital Sodium 48.5mg / Ephedrine Salts 25.5mg)
DOSE: 800mg to 1,200mg (Secobarbital)
EFFECTS: As this is a combination product, it has a very unique high – the ephedrine comes on first, and then the stronger barbiturate mixes in with the speed and eventually overtakes it, leaving just the effects of secobarbital. This is by and away the most addicting drug I have ever taken, as both the ephedrine and secobarbital are pleasurable drugs by themselves, let alone combined. It’s like a speedball in a capsule. Also, it’s worth mentioning that the ephedrine was in salt form, not hydrochloride form, and the salt form is much more abusable and pleasurable than the hydrochloride form on the market today.
The high comes within 10 minutes on an empty stomach after oral ingestion and 5 minutes after intranasal use, and begins with the onset of the ephedrine. Warmth spreads over my body, and I feel a methamphetamine like euphoria, though not nearly as intense. My body tingles as the ephedrine spreads throughout my bloodstream, and I am alert but not twitchy; I can lay down and relax but still feel the ‘up’. About 30 mins in, the secobarbital becomes apparent, and mixes in with the ‘up’ feeling of the ephedrine. The combination is incredibly pleasurable, and probably the best high I’ve ever had, head and shoulders over all the other drugs I have tried in my life. The classic barbiturate body high becomes present, and mixes with the warmth of the ephedrine. The floaty, jello like feeling builds and at the same time the ephedrine keeps me alert and warm. After about 45 mins, the ephedrine effects are gone, and I am left with a heavenly secobarbital high.
The psycholoigical effects of secobarbital are unique among the barbiturate family – euphoria is much more pronounced, and the loss of inhibition is still there, but less intense. It is more of a carefree feeling, like there is nothing to worry about at all – there could be bombs going off outside and I wouldn’t have cared. I cannot stress enough how euphoric secobarbital is, I just feel a chemically induced happiness. The body high is much less intense than that of the other substances I’ve described, yet so much better – the closest feeling I can describe it to is floating on a cloud. There is lightness in the chest and a floaty feeling all over my body, with the classic jello legs, but more manageable. Obviously, it is dose dependent, and higher doses produce more loss of motor control, but even high doses (1,000mg plus) don’t produce the overwhelming loss of motor control that phenobarbital does. Sleep is incredibly easy, and drifting off to sleep while under the spell of secobarbital is one of the best feelings in the world in my opinion. Blackouts are inevitable, just like the other barbiturates, but secobarbital has a very short half life (15 to 40 hours), so the blackouts aren’t as intense. Re-dosing is rampant for an addict. I ran through my stash of Seconal faster than any other drug I’ve ever had.
I ran through my stash of Seconal faster than any other drug I’ve ever had.
The high of secobarbital by itself is incredible, and mixed with an ‘upper’ like ephedrine, it creates a drug that makes no sense in the modern world. It’s a speedball in a capsule. Secobarbital is the most addictive substance I have ever ingested.
TOLERANCE / WITHDRAWAL: As secobarbital is short acting, tolerance builds extremely quickly, faster than any other substance I’ve touched. I was already a barbiturate addict when I got my hands on this drug, but within 2 days I needed a higher dose to reach the same initial effects. I did not have a huge amount of Seconal, so I did not experience withdrawal symptoms, and self detoxed with phenobarbital.
OVERALL: Secobarbital is an incredible drug with incredible euphoria and incredible addiction risk. Combined with an upper like ephedrine, it is indescribable. Amazingly, Seconal is still on the market (obviously not in the form I had). It’s reputation as the ‘holy grail’ of barbiturates is well deserved; the euphoria is unlike the other barbiturates, much more pronounced. All this being said, secobarbital has the worst tolerance increase I have ever experienced, even worse than short acting opiates like Dilaudid. Additionally, it creates so much euphoria when abused that addiction is inevitable, and it has the same overdose and withdrawal risks as all the other barbiturates I have gone over.
In the 1980s, there were around 30 forms of barbiturates. Now, in 2018, there are only 3 left on the market that can be prescribed and picked up at a pharmacy – phenobarbital, butalbital, and secobarbital (I am unsure if meprobamate is still available). All 3 are useless in the modern world. There is a reason benzodiazepines replaced barbiturates – barbiturates have an extremely small therapeutic index, a huge overdose risk, and extreme abuse liability.
Today, I am clean and sober, but have permanent damage to my body due to the barbiturate abuse in particular. My GABA system is shot, and unfortunately I have a seizure disorder from the repeated, long term barbiturate abuse. Medical professionals have told me that my GABA system may never function normally. I now have to be maintained on a number of anti seizure drugs, as well as other mood effecting drugs. I do NOT regret my drug use despite my health issues and some legal ramifications (that were due to barbiturates).
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