What are Barbiturates?

Barbiturates are depressants that produce a wide spectrum of central nervous system depression from mild sedation to coma. They have also been used as sedatives, hypnotics, anesthetics, and anticonvulsants. Barbiturates are classified as Ultrashort, Short, Intermediate, Long-acting. Barbiturates were first introduced for medical use in the 1900s, and today about 12 substances are in medical use.

Cut-Off Levels (ng/mL)

200, 300 ng/mL (Urine)

50, 300 ng/mL (Saliva)

Window of Detection

2 Hr. – 3 Days (Urine)

1 – 2 Days (Saliva)

How is it Used?

Barbiturates are abused by swallowing a pill or injecting a liquid form. Barbiturates are generally abused to reduce anxiety, decrease inhibitions, and treat unwanted effects of illicit drugs. Barbiturates can be extremely dangerous because overdoses can occur easily and lead to death.

What are the Effects?

Barbiturates cause mild euphoria, lack of inhibition, relief of anxiety and sleepiness. Higher doses cause impairment of memory, judgment and coordination, irritability, and paranoid and suicidal ideation. Tolerance develops quickly and larger doses are then needed to produce the same effect, increasing the danger of an overdose. Barbiturates slow down the central nervous system and cause sleepiness.

Drugs with similar effects include alcohol, benzodiazepines like Valium® and Xanax®, tranquilizers, sleeping pills, Rohypnol®, and GHB.

Common Street Names

  • Barbs
  • Block Busters
  • Christmas Trees
  • Goof Balls
  • Pinks
  • Red Devils
  • Reds & Blues
  • Yellow Jackets
  • Common Symptoms

    Effects of overdose include:

    • shallow respiration
    • clammy skin
    • dilated pupils
    • weak and rapid pulse
    • coma
    • death

    What does it Look Like?

    Barbiturates come in a variety of multicolored pills and tablets. Abusers prefer the short-acting and intermediate barbiturates such as Amytal® and Seconal®.

    Legal Status

    Barbiturates are Schedule II, III, and IV depressants under the Controlled Substances Act. Barbiturates were first introduced for medical use in the 1900s, and today about 12 substances are in medical use.

    Testing Options

    • Integrated Urine Cup Test
    • Urine Dip Card Test
    • Oral Fluid Test

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