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Barbiturates are a depressant drugs that effects the central nervous system causing effects from mild sedation to full anaesthesia. First made in 1864 by Adolf von Baey a German researcher. Its medical benefits were recognised and used for many procedures. However by the 1950's Barbiturates side effects of physical dependence and behavioural problems caused concern and since then it has been mainly replaced by the family of benzodiazepine drugs which are much less likely to result in accidental overdoses.

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Barbiturate overdoes symptoms include sluggishness, incoordination, difficulty in thinking, slowness of speech, faulty judgment, drowsiness or coma, shallow breathing, staggering and in severe cases coma and death. The lethal dosage of barbiturates varies greatly with tolerance and from one individual to another. Tolerance quickly build up with regular use making overdoes more likely when not strictly controlled in a medical environment.

The intoxicating effect of Barbiturates are very similar in effect to alcohol. Symptoms include respiratory depression, lowered blood pressure, fatigue, fever, unusual excitement, irritability, dizziness, poor concentration, sedation, confusion, impaired coordination, impaired judgment, addiction, and respiratory arrest which may lead to death.

Recreational users report that a barbiturate high gives them feelings of relaxed contentment and euphoric highs. The main risk of acute barbiturate abuse is respiratory depression. Physical and psychological dependence may also develop with repeated use. Other effects of barbiturate highs are sleepiness, lower anxiety, slurred speech and a loss of inhibitions.

Drug users like Barbiturates as they are short to intermediate acting and quickly take effect with the duration not to long. In their normal recreational drug form they are taken as pills, these take between fifteen to forty minutes after they are swallowed for their effects to take effect and there duration lasts from five to six hours. The street terms for the recreational forms of the drug barbiturates include; blues, downers, barbs, bluebirds, and tootie. The cult youth film Quadrophenia features Barbiturate use including blues, it has scenes of the main characters buying barbiturates illegally and breaking into a pharmacy to get supplies to use clubbing.

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