Barbiturate drugs

A group of sedative drugs that work by depressing activity within the brain. They include thiopental and phenobarbital. In the past, barbiturates were widely used as antianxiety drugs and sleeping drugs but have been largely replaced by benzodiazepine drugs and other nonbarbiturates. Barbiturates are now strictly controlled because they are habit-forming and widely abused. An overdose can be fatal, particularly in combination with alcohol, which dangerously increases the depressant effect on the brain (including suppression of the respiratory centre). However, phenobarbital is still commonly used as an anticonvulsant drug in the treatment of epilepsy. Thiopental is very short acting and is used to induce anaesthesia (see anaesthesia, general).


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