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Luminal Addiction

There has been a significant rise in prescription drug abuse and addiction during the past several years. Prescription drug misuse can have serious medical consequences for the person who’s using, and it can cause heartache for the families involved. Prescription misuse involves consuming a medication in a manner or dose other than prescribed; taking someone else’s prescription, even if for a legitimate medical complaint such as pain; or taking medication to feel euphoria.

During the past 15 years, the United States has seen an influx of emergency visits all relating to prescription drug misuse, and a significant increase in overdose deaths. While barbiturate prescriptions have decreased, that doesn’t mean they’re less dangerous.

Luminal is still prescribed for sleep disorders and seizures. Veterinarians also use the drug to treat cats and dogs that suffer from seizure disorders. While Luminal offers therapeutic benefits, it has the potential for misuse and abuse.

What Is Luminal? 

Luminal is the brand name of the drug phenobarbital. Other names used in reference are phenobarbitone and phenobarb. It is in a class of drugs called barbiturate anticonvulsant hypnotics, and it is primarily prescribed for seizure disorders. Luminal is also prescribed for sleep disorders, but it’s mainly given to reduce seizures in humans and animals. It is less commonly used as an anti-anxiety medication. Individuals attending a medical detox for benzodiazepines may be given the drug as a method to combat withdrawal symptoms. In some cases, it is used as an anesthetic for patients before surgery. 

Luminal can be administered in various ways. It can be taken orally as a capsule, as an elixir, or as an injection into the muscle. Once Luminal has entered the body, it slows down the central nervous system, and it slows down irregular electrical currents in the brain that result in seizures. Barbiturates affect the brain’s gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors. GABA is responsible for creating feelings of calm. These effects are what create someone’s desire to abuse the drug.

Luminal’s undesirable side effects include headaches, dizziness, drowsiness, nausea, vomiting, memory problems, and confusion to name a few.

What Are the Signs of Luminal Addiction?

Luminal is a strong barbiturate that carries a high risk for abuse. For this reason, Luminal is intended only for short-term use that lasts no longer than two weeks. A doctor may review the case and determine if the therapeutic benefits outweigh the risks if the drug needs to be taken for longer than two weeks. Luminal users typically take their regularly scheduled dose at night before bed.

Excessive Luminal use can cause physical and psychological dependence. This can lead to an overdose that could result in death. Recreational users will experience feelings of sedation and drowsiness. While these effects are similar to benzodiazepines, the chemical makeup of barbiturates differs. Another effect a user will typically feel is euphoria. It is this combination of symptoms that create the urge to continue use of the drug. 

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The prolonged use of Luminal will, in turn, cause the user’s brain to cease production of naturally produced GABA. When the person stops using the drug because they’ve run out, or simply cannot obtain more, they will experience a crash and have enhanced symptoms of what they were initially treating. This is known as “rebounding,” and it holds the risk of becoming dangerous depending on dose. 

Someone struggling with Luminal dependence or addiction may show symptoms that typically accompany barbiturate abuse. These include:

  • Intoxication similar to alcohol
  • Slurred speech
  • Shallow breathing
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Agitation
  • Confusion
  • Memory loss
  • Mood swings
  • Poor decision making
  • Motor control problems
  • Brain fog
  • Impotence (in male users)
  • Reduced emotional reactions

Individuals who consume the drug recreationally will experience a unique set of symptoms as well. Their dependence on the drug will likely indicate a growing tolerance. This means they require a much higher dose to achieve the effects they’ve grown accustomed to. Signs of Luminal addiction include:

  • Intense Luminal cravings
  • An inability to quit the drug despite repeated attempts
  • Consuming longer than they are prescribed
  • Consuming only to avoid withdrawal symptoms
  • Withdrawal symptoms as a result of not taking Luminal
  • Hiding drug use from friends and family
  • Using Luminal with other drugs or alcohol
  • Financial troubles relating to obtaining Luminal
  • Continued use despite negative consequences

The realization that addiction has set in may prompt some Luminal use to discontinue using the drug immediately, an attempt known as “going cold turkey.” This is not recommended and highly discouraged. This method of quitting can be a dangerous path that will likely see the user return to the drug.

Some withdrawal symptoms a user could experience can include dizziness, nausea, vomiting, convulsions, and seizures. Immediately call 911 if someone is experiencing convulsions or seizures. In more rare instances, tremors and hallucinations can occur. 

If you or someone you love is ready to end their dependence on Luminal, it is highly recommended that treatment is sought at a reputable facility. By doing so, it will ensure a safe detox from the drug and will help achieve long-term sobriety.

How Is Luminal Addiction Treated?

In this first step in the continuum of care, a person who has decided to seek treatment will start medical detoxification. This is a process that can last anywhere from three to seven days, depending on the user’s current dose, and it is designed to safely remove addictive substances from the body. The benefit of a medical detox is to be as safe and comfortable as humanly possible for the client. This also will reduce the risk of relapse. Clients will be monitored for 24 hours a day, seven days a week to ensure nothing unexpected occurs.

The detox process allows for medical staff to determine how far along the client is in their Luminal addiction and seek out if a person has a dual diagnosis. This could mean the person has a mental health disorder that contributes to fueling their drug addiction. Dually diagnosed clients must enter into a program that treats both disorders side by side at the same time. Before entering the next step in the continuum of care, clients will be evaluated to decide which therapies will be adequate for their needs, and a relapse prevention plan will be developed as well.

Once the client completes the detox phase, they are then presented with treatment options. The options start with the most intensive care and end with the least intensive. Depending on the severity of addiction and other underlying factors, a client could be placed in residential treatment or an intensive outpatient program. Each of these programs is personalized and offer recovering substance users the time to address their addiction and learn the skills to cope with triggers. They will also learn the proper tools and strategies that can help them successfully manage their condition for long-term sobriety. 

Addiction treatment will not look the same for everyone. Everyone holds unique requirements to help them on their journey. You must find a combination of programs, therapies, and services that can all be custom fitted to your needs. An effective program should include:

  • Addiction education courses
  • Individual counseling
  • Family counseling
  • Group counseling
  • Relapse prevention planning

How Dangerous Is Luminal Abuse?

Luminal addiction is extremely dangerous, and if left untreated, it can lead to death. Barbiturates are powerful substances that don’t require doses in excess to overdose. If you suspect someone has overdosed on Luminal, look for symptoms, such as:

  • Clammy skin
  • Change in pupil size
  • Slowed breathing rate
  • Rapid breathing
  • Loss of coordination
  • Uncontrolled eye movements
  • Drop in body temperature
  • Blisters

Overdose requires immediate attention, and if you believe you or someone you love has overdosed on Luminal, you must immediately call 911. Luminal overdose can be fatal.

Luminal Abuse Statistics

  • Roughly, one in ten people who overdose on barbiturates or use a mixture of barbiturates with other drugs or alcohol will die from lund and/or heart problems.
  • Barbiturates are usually used in suicides 
  • In 2013, nearly 400 deaths involved barbiturate use
Many people


Phenobarbital overdose – Penn State Hershey Medical Center. (n.d.). from

The Effects of Phenobarbital Use. (2016, January 29). from

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (n.d.). Summary of Misuse of Prescription Drugs. from

Medical News Today. Fast Facts on Barbiturates. Everything you need to know about barbiturates. from

WebMD. Barbiturate Abuse. Barbiturate Abuse Cause. from

U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2017, September 23) Barbiturate intoxication and overdose. from

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