What are barbiturates?
Barbiturates were first made in the mid 1890s and were widely used to treat anxiety. All barbiturates inhibit the activity of neurons in the brain by exaggerating the actions of a naturally occurring neurotransmitter: gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). There are many different barbiturates, which have different uses depending on how long they last in the body.
How are barbiturates used?
Doctors use short-acting barbiturates as general anaesthetics – a single injection of thiopental can knock you out in 10– 20 seconds. Consciousness returns in 20-30 minutes. Doctors use longer-lasting types, like phenobarbital, to treat epilepsy. All barbiturates are extremely addictive and so cannot be used long term.