Barbiturates, like Amytal, used to be some of the most popular recreational drugs in the United States. Amytal has killed countless celebrities. Most notably, it killed people like Judy Garland, Marilyn Monroe, and Jimi Hendrix.


When many people hear the word “barbiturate,” they often think about a drug from the past and not a drug people use in contemporary times.

But, this could not be farther from the truth.

Fifty-five thousand prescriptions of Amytal are filled every day right here in the United States. Amytal is one of the most dangerous prescriptions to become addicted to because it can kill you within ten minutes of consumption. And 10 percent of people who overdose on Amytal end up dying.

Are you worried that someone you know and love is addicted to Amytal? Or that you yourself may be becoming addicted? Scroll down to learn more about this dangerous, and way too often deadly, medication.

What Is Amytal?

While most people think barbiturates are a thing of the past, statistics show that it’s very much alive and well. In the U.S., Amytal is popular for its sedative-hypnotic properties.


Amytal is a barbiturate that is often used for insomnia or pre-surgery. It is the brand name for the medication amobarbital.

It is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant, and its job is to soothe severe stress in your brain. In some cases, it’s used as an anticonvulsant.

How Is It Taken?

Amytal can be taken as a pill form prescribed to a patient or as an injection.

Who Takes It?

This is a medication often prescribed to adults who suffer from terrible insomnia or who are going in for pre-surgery. It can also be used for people with extreme anxiety, but this is not as common.

When used as a treatment for insomnia, patients shouldn’t take it for longer than two weeks. Unfortunately, barbiturates are addictive and many take it as a recreational stimulant long after their prescription ends.

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A Brief History of Amytal

Amobarbital (currently known as Amytal) is a drug that was patented in 1922 in Germany. It was used heavily in WW2 as a pain reliever from shell-shock, but after seeing how sedative and hypnotic its properties can be, the U.S. government stopped using it so commonly.

It is still prescribed in contemporary society. While recent numbers are not accessible, and although it’s not as popular of a drug today as it once was, almost 20 million prescriptions are still filled every year for Amytal. That’s close to 5 percent of the population getting a prescription annually.

Barbiturates are an umbrella drug. This means it does not matter your age, race, class, or other factors when we think about what kind of people are addicted to it. As an example, one in ten teenagers is currently taking and abusing prescriptive drugs.

Last year, Amytal was responsible for 400 deaths. That is approximately one death every day in the U.S. due to Amytal.

Consequences of Amytal Abuse

As an almost lethally strong prescription drug, Amytal has several effects on the body. These include but are not limited to:

  • Painful migraines
  • Slurred speech
  • Dizziness
  • Tremors
  • Lowered heart rate
  • Drowsiness

Effects on the Mind and Body

The symptoms to the mind and body on Amytal can vary from individual to individual. But here are some things you may want to look for in someone who is becoming addicted, or who sadly, is already addicted:

  • General or recurring confusion
  • Drowsiness
  • Hallucinations
  • Trouble recalling who you and others are
  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Tremors
  • Delusions and hallucinations
  • Poor motor skills
  • The need to always be “doctor shopping”
  • Zombie-like state (act as if they’re always asleep, even when they’re awake)

You may also look for the following effects on the mind and body if the person is withdrawing from it. These may not be as common in upper-class adults or teenagers with access to money, but when people cannot obtain their prescriptions, you may see some of the following symptoms and signs:

  • Agitation
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Vomiting
  • Shakiness
  • Psychosis
  • Twitching
  • Nausea
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Tremors
  • Seizures

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The following are the short-term and long-term effects Amytal has on your body. As you will notice, several of these are things that a person could just suffer from in general, i.e, they have depression or a cold. But, look out for these effects happening over and over again:

Short-Term Health Effects

  • Sleepiness
  • Confusion
  • Light-headedness
  • Nausea
  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Fainting

Long-Term Health Effects

  • Nightmares
  • Muscle spasms
  • Liver damage
  • Hallucinations

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Using Amytal With Other Drugs

Because Amytal is a sedative and in the barbiturate family, your doctor may only give it to you once before surgery or in extreme cases of insomnia. However, no matter what, Amytal is a strong cognitive drug, and in turn, it can lead to a bad reaction when taken with other medications.

What Drugs Are Commonly Used With Amytal?

Make sure your doctors are aware of all of your prescriptions and history. They may choose another medication if you have overdosed on Amytal before, but they also may not.

Recreationally, Amytal is another story though. People often mix it with alcohol. They also tend to mix it with the following:

  • Valum
  • Xanax
  • Alcohol
  • Beta-blockers
  • Sleeping medications
  • Lithium
  • Methadone
  • Other depressant medications
  • Codeine
  • Vicodin
  • Hycodan
  • MS Contin
  • Kadian
  • Oxycontin
  • Percoset
  • Duragesic
  • Fentanyl
  • Hydromorphone

If you’re taking Amytal for insomnia or anxiety, your doctor may try to switch you to something less addictive or minimize your dosage over time.

Again, Amytal on its own is a serious drug with dire consequences. It can cause liver damage or strokes and is quickly fatal. If you are taking it recreationally with other medications, you may be putting your health at risk in major and unforeseen ways.

Treating Amytal Addiction

Addiction can be a hard disease to process. This is especially true if you’re someone trying to process it on your own. That can be as a person addicted to a substance, or as the loved one of someone addicted and abusing medications.

It’s important to know that there are a lot of resources out there for people addicted to substances.

You may feel like you’re protecting someone with an Amytal addiction, but that pill addiction could land them in prison- or even worse.

Drug addiction is complicated, but you don’t have to deal with it alone.

Are you addicted to Amytal or another substance and want to get clean, but you’re worried that it’s too late or that you don’t have enough time? Click here to learn more about your flexible options to help get you clean.