The Dangers of Nembutal Abuse

Woman sleepingNembutal is the brand name for pentobarbital sodium — a prescription barbiturate used in the treatment of seizures and insomnia, as well as a surgical general anesthetic. It works by slowing down the activity of the brain and nervous system. The drug has a calming, sedating effect that makes it popular as an anti-anxiety and sleep-inducing prescription. Abusers often refer to Nembutal as “nembies,” “abbots,” or “yellow jackets.” The drug is prescribed for the short-term treatment of insomnia and to help induce sleepiness before anesthesia.

Nembutal is highly addictive and doctors rarely prescribe more than enough for two weeks at any given time. Unfortunately, people use drugs like Nembutal recreationally at an alarming rate. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse the most recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health, more than 50 million Americans used prescription drugs for nonmedical reasons in 2014.1

Who Is Addicted to Nembutal?

Barbiturate abuse peaked in the 1950s, when these drugs were favored by everyone from the modern-day housewife to world-renowned celebrities. While the popularity of barbiturates may have waned somewhat since that time, many still abuse them. Sadly, the highest growth in barbiturate use in the past few years has been among teenagers.2 Sleeping pills remain the most commonly prescribed barbiturate, with an approximate 19 million scripts being written for them every year. Many people who end up abusing Nembutal start out by misusing a legitimate prescription for the drug. Nembutal is highly habit-forming, especially in users who take more than 400 mg of the drug per day for at least 90 days.3

Signs of Addiction

If you or a loved one uses Nembutal, look for the following signs of addiction:

  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Atypical excitement
  • Lethargy
  • Poor coordination
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Impaired judgment

The Risks of Abusing Nembutal

One of the specific dangers of Nembutal goes hand in hand with one of its benefits. Because the sleep-inducing effects wear off after a couple weeks of use, the risk of addiction and accidental overdose is increased for those who attempt to increase the dosage or take the drug more frequently.

Drinking alcohol while using Nembutal also increases the risk of potential side effects, especially as it adds to the drowsiness that the drug causes. MedlinePlus reports around one in every 10 people who have an overdose with barbiturate involvement will die from it.4 Those who mix drugs like Nembutal with alcohol are at an increased risk of fatality. The symptoms of a Nembutal overdose include:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Confused state
  • Delirium
  • Headache
  • Slurred speech
  • Weak pulse
  • Hypotension
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Wobbly stature; stumbling
  • Blisters or rash4

Pneumonia, kidney failure, heart failure and coma can all stem from a Nembutal overdose. Nembutal is available as a rectal suppository, oral pill, and injectable fluid — the latter of which is often preferred by those who abuse it, but other methods can be converted and prepared for injection, too. Normal doses of the drug come with disposable needles so that reuse isn’t necessary, but when bought from a dealer or used at a party, this may not be the case. Likewise, many will start with a clean needle and pass it around for others to use. Sharing needles significantly increases the risk of contracting serious diseases like hepatitis and HIV.

Finding Help for Nembutal Adduction

No matter how you first discovered Nembutal or why addiction to the drug has developed, we are here for you. Call our toll free number now. Our admissions coordinators are available 24 hours a day to answer your questions and help you find treatment. At La Paloma, your new life can begin today.


1 “What is the scope of prescription drug misuse?” National Institute on Drug Abuse, NIDA, Aug. 2016. Accessed 12 Dec. 2017.

2 “Barbiturate Abuse.” WebMD, WebMD, 23 Apr. 2016. Accessed 12 Dec. 2017.

3 “Nembutal (Pentobarbital): Side Effects, Interactions, Warning, Dosage & Uses.” RxList. Accessed 20 Dec. 2017.

4 “Barbiturate intoxication and overdose.” MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. Accessed 20 Dec. 2017.