Treatment of Barbiturate Abuse

Medically Reviewed by Smitha Bhandari, MD on November 17, 2020

Home Treatment of Barbiturate Abuse

There is no home treatment for barbiturate abuse. If you believe someone has taken barbiturates inappropriately, take them to the hospital for evaluation by a doctor. An overdose of barbiturates can be a life-threatening emergency.


  • Barbiturates can cause coma or death if taken inappropriately. This is especially true in children and in elderly persons.
  • Because children are smaller and weigh less than adults, even small doses of barbiturates could be life-threatening.
  • Elderly people can be more sensitive to barbiturates and develop a coma with small doses.

Medical Treatment of Barbiturate Abuse



The treatment of barbiturate abuse or overdose is generally supportive. The amount of support required depends on the person's symptoms.


  • If the person is drowsy but awake and can swallow and breathe without difficulty, the treatment may consist of just watching the person closely. This has to be evaluated by a doctor or hospital, not determined at home. 
  • If the person is not breathing, a breathing machine is used to ensure the person can breathe well until the drugs have worn off.
  • Most people receive a liquid form of activated charcoal to bind to any drugs in their stomach. This may be done by placing a tube into the stomach (through the nose or mouth) or by having the person drink it.
  • Most people are admitted to the hospital or are observed in the emergency department for a number of hours. Other treatments depend on the specific situation.