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Seconal Addiction

Seconal is one of several barbiturates that promises sleep, relaxation, and relief for those who need it. The drugs are designed for short-term use, but they are also abused for their effects, which range from mild sedation to euphoria.

Barbiturate abuse can involve crushing the pills into powder form so users can inhale it through their noses, or inject it intravenously after adding the powder to a liquid. Taking more of the drug than prescribed or taking it outside of a doctor’s prescription is also considered drug abuse.

Seconal abuse is not new. It was popular in the recreational drug scene in the 1960s and 1970s. Today, it is used by drug users who want to “come down” as they counter the effects of uppers or stimulant drugs. They also take it to get to sleep after abusing pain medication, which can trigger insomnia. The drug is also sought by people interested in pursuing assisted death.

What Is Seconal?

Seconal is the trademark name for secobarbital, a barbiturate medication prescribed for the short-term treatment of insomnia and other sleep disorders. It also is used to help relieve anxiety in patients before they have surgery. It is also used as an anticonvulsant.

Among recreational users, Seconal goes by several names, including reds, red birds, red bullets, M&M’s, blues and reds, red birds, red bullets, seccy, seggy, and pinks.

Seconal Addiction: What Are the Signs?

Barbiturates are popular among recreational users who abuse them for their effects. The signs of Seconal addiction are typical of what happens when barbiturates, in general, are abused.  People who abuse the drug experience the following symptoms, which are similar to alcohol intoxication:

  • Shallow breathing
  • Slow, slurred speech
  • Confusion
  • Poor judgment
  • Mood swings
  • Irritation
  • Motor control problems
  • Physical coordination problems
  • Unclear thinking, thinking difficulties
  • Reduced emotional reactions

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Inappropriate use of barbiturates can lead to addiction. Higher doses can lead to unconsciousness and death. Longtime Seconal users go into withdrawal if they decide to quit the drugs abruptly because they want to “go cold turkey.”  However, this is not advised as it can lead to relapse and overdose should a person return to using.

It also means users can experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms that include restlessness, anxiety, stomach cramping, nausea, and vomiting. Long-term users can also experience hallucinations, seizures, and suicidal thoughts upon quitting abruptly. It is better to enter a treatment center to handle withdrawal safely.

Seconal Addiction Treatment

If you or someone you know has abused Seconal, and the person has developed a physical and/or psychological dependence on it, the next step is to seek addiction treatment at a drug rehabilitation center. Entering an addiction treatment program ensures people who want to end their excessive Seconal use will receive help from addiction specialists who can guide the way to recovery. 

It is often difficult for many people to stop Seconal addiction on their own. According to WebMD, there is no home treatment for barbiturate abuse. Barbiturate overdose can be life-threatening, so professional treatment at a rehab facility is advised.

Seconal pills spilling out of a pill bottle

Effectively addressing Seconal addiction begins with a medical detox that is monitored by health care professionals. The 24/7 process keeps clients safe and comfortable as they are gradually weaned off the drug. Clients at this critical point in the recovery process also may receive medicines to address symptoms, such as nausea and vomiting. How detox is scheduled depends on individual factors, such as age, drug use history, medical history, and physiology, among others

After detox ends and stability is achieved, clients are evaluated and placed in a treatment program that helps them get to the root of their addiction. All treatment is tailored to an individual’s needs and preferences to ensure they get the most out of their program. 

Commonly used treatment programs include inpatient or residential treatment and outpatient treatment, depending on the situation. Inpatient treatment, which can last anywhere from 28 days to 90 days in a facility, depending on the program, involves therapies designed to help people work through and overcome addiction. Partial hospitalization is also an option. This setting is often a fit for people who are ready to exit residential services but still need more time before considering outpatient treatment.

Outpatient treatment is an option for people who are in the initial stages of Seconal addiction or have a mild case of it. Outpatient therapy provides more flexibility as clients stay in their home and complete drug treatment convenient for their schedule. They still must attend structured sessions three to five times a week or more and are entirely responsible for keeping their environment free of negative influences that can impair their recovery. 

Once treatment ends, the journey to sobriety is just unfolding. Seconal users may want to consider using aftercare services to keep them focused on their goals and reduce their chances of relapse. Follow-up medical care and ongoing therapies can help manage post-acute withdrawal symptoms, known as PAWS, which commonly occur after drug dependence has ended. Barbiturate-related PAWS include anxiety, cognitive impairment, irritability, and depression.

How Dangerous Is Seconal Abuse?

As with all barbiturates and drugs, in general, Seconal must be used with care. Using Seconal excessively can lead to intoxication similar to that of alcohol. These drugs also are popularly used to counteract the effects of stimulant drugs, such as cocaine and meth. Using them in this manner is life-threatening. People also use barbiturates along with alcohol, which is also highly dangerous.

One of the main dangers of addictive barbiturates is that it doesn’t take much of the drug to overdose. Their narrow therapeutic range, as well as their ability to stay in the body for some time after they are ingested, also make them dangerous drugs.

This is another reason barbiturate users are at risk of overdosing on the drugs. The chances are even higher if users abuse them along with other drugs, such as alcohol or benzodiazepines or opioids, at the same time.  Polysubstance use makes it even more difficult to end dependence.

Seconal Withdrawal

Individuals who consume Seconal over an extended period not only set themselves up for the potential of addiction, but they also can experience deadly withdrawal symptoms. Even when Seconal is used as prescribed, the body can become dependent on the drug. When someone builds a tolerance to the drug, abrupt cessation can lead to uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. Many will want to stop using Seconal but fear the symptoms that may be facing them ahead.

Fortunately, you do not have to approach withdrawals alone. When you enter into NCBI, you will be provided with medication that alleviates the severe withdrawal symptoms. The presence of medical professionals on hand allows you to be monitored to protect you from having seizures.

Some withdrawal symptoms you can expect to have include:

  • Inability to sleep
  • Anxiety
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fainting
  • Visual distortion
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Death (in severe cases)

The rate at which you get through Seconal withdrawal symptoms will vary from one person to another and is dependent on several factors. For one, it may take a few days to break through the worst of your symptoms, and for others, it can take a week or longer.

Withdrawal can last anywhere from five to 10 days, but the rate and intensity will depend on:

  • The severity of Seconal addiction
  • Age
  • Dose taken
  • Length of time using Seconal
  • Overall condition of health
  • Social support system
  • Diet
  • Tolerance level
  • Metabolism
  • Genetics
  • Polydrug use

Barbiturate Abuse Statistics

  • 396 – The number of deaths barbiturates were either directly or indirectly responsible for in 2013.
  • 12 – More than 2,500 barbiturate medications have been formulated since the 1900s; about 50 were marketed for human use. Today, about 12 barbiturates are used for medical purposes.
  • About 1 in 10 people who overdose on barbiturates or a mixture that contains barbiturates will die, according to the US National Library of Medicine.


(March, 2018). Secobarbital. Medline Plus. from

Benzodiazepine Abuse. (n.d.). from

The National Center for Biotechnology Information. Retrieved from

López-Muñoz, F, (December, 2005).The history of barbiturates a century after their clinical introduction. US National Library of Medicine . from

NIDA. (October 2016). “The Science of Drug Abuse and Addiction: The Basics.” The National Institute on Drug Abuse. from

U.S. National Library of Medicines. MedlinePlus. (2019, June 23) Barbiturate intoxication and overdose. Retrieved from

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