What is Pentobarbital?

Pentobarbital is the generic name for Nembutal Sodium. It is a barbiturate that is used to treat anxiety, seizures and sleep disorders. Barbiturates are central nervous system depressants (CNS) that reduce sensory cortex activity in the brain. If abused, CNS depressants can induce sleep even to the point of coma or death. However, research studies show that pentobarbital becomes less effective in inducing and maintaining sleep after approximately two weeks of habitual use at the same dose. This reduction may cause users to increase the dosage in order to achieve the desired result which can lead to Pentobarbital abuse.

When sold under the brand name Nembutal, Pentobarbital is available as an injection, capsules and suppositories in the following formulations.

  • Yellow Capsule, Nembutal Sodium (Pentobarbital) 100 mg, imprinted with CH LOGO = A
  • Orange Capsule, Nembutal Sodium (Pentobarbital) 50 mg, imprinted with CF
  • Nembutal Sodium (Pentobarbital) Suppositories 30 mg, 60 mg, 120 mg and 200 mg

Drug Classification

Under the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Controlled Substance Act Pentobarbital has been classified as a Schedule II and Schedule III Drug. Classification is determined by the dosage and strength of the medication. As a Schedule II controlled substance, the Pentobarbital meet the criteria for having accepted medical use in the United States Medical community as well as a high potential for abuse that can lead to physical and psychological dependence. Drugs in this category are subject to severe restrictions. Schedule III controlled substances have accepted medical use with a moderate to low potential for abuse.

Signs of Abuse

Abuse of Pentobarbital occurs when random dosage increases result in the development of higher tolerance levels. Signs of an increasing tolerance level is the need to take more of the drug to get the same effects. If drug use is not halted as tolerance levels build, this eventually leads to dependence and later Pentobarbital addiction. Studies show that psychological dependence on barbiturates can develop quickly. People who have developed a dependency on this drug or are already in addiction will experience withdrawal symptoms when they try to halt drug use. Signs of Pentobarbital addiction displays similar to alcohol addiction such as.

  • Slurred speech
  • Loss of balance
  • Intoxication
  • Aggression
  • Confusion
  • Poor judgment
  • Involuntary eye movement

Adverse Side Effects

Serious adverse effects have been associated with Pentobarbital use and abuse. These effects were reported to the Food and Drug Administration as potential risks and listed on the FDA Adverse Event Reporting System (FAERS) Database submitted to FDA by healthcare professionals, patients, family members and manufacturers. When effects are added to the FAERS list it means that the FDA recognize the potential risks inherent in the use of this drug such as:

  • Cerebral Salt-wasting Syndrome, (a rare endocrine condition featuring a low blood sodium concentration and dehydration).
  • Subarachnoid hemorrhage (bleeding in the area between the brain and the thin tissues that cover the brain).
  • Brain Edema (Excessive accumulation of fluid in the spaces in the brain).
  • Deep Vein Thrombosis
  • Cardio-respiratory Arrest
  • Suicide
  • Hypoventilation
  • Tongue Hematoma, biting and injury
  • Convulsion
  • Vomiting
  • Hypoxia
  • Toxicity
  • Coma

This does not represent the complete list of reported risks on the FAERS list.


Severe withdrawal symptoms have been associated with halting use after barbiturate dependence has developed. Because these symptoms can be fatal, treatment for addiction to Pentobarbital (Nembutal) may necessitate a medical detoxification. This procedure provides continuous medical oversight until drug withdrawal is completed. Withdrawal symptoms can begin between eight or twelve hours after the last dose of Pentobarbital. Clinical research data shows that the first withdrawal symptoms typically appear in the following order.

  • Anxiety
  • Muscle twitching
  • Hand tremors
  • Progressively feeling weak
  • Visual perception distortions
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dizzy Spells

Progressively more severe symptoms occurring approximately 16 hours after the last dose and the preceding symptoms may include:

  • Convulsions
  • Delirium Tremens

Severity of symptoms usually begin to diminish after the fifth day although symptoms can continue to manifest for up to fifteen days or more. For this reason, medical oversight is important when trying to withdraw from habitual use of Pentobarbital or other barbiturates. Our board certified addiction clinicians assist patients to not only get safely through the detox process but provide emergency medical attention in the event of a life threatening situation. Following the detox process, the patient is able to participate in the rehabilitation and recovery process.

In many instances, people that use remedies for sleep disorders have other underlying issues that triggered the need for sleep medication in the first place. A thorough physical and Psychological evaluation, help to diagnose patients with co-occurring conditions. An accurate diagnosis help to determine if dual diagnosis treatment is required for the patient. At our Drug Rehab Treatment Centers we provide various optional treatment programs, including dual diagnosis treatment that are customized for each patient. Our rehabilitation protocols incorporate holistic and conventional remedies with cutting edge innovative processes for a comprehensive treatment approach.

If you or a loved one has been habitually using Pentobarbital (Nembutal) and is concerned about addiction, we can help. Before you try to halt drug use on your own call our drug rehab treatment Centers today at 877-855-3470.