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Nembutal Withdrawal: Learn the Timeline, Symptoms, Detox

Known by abusers as “yellow jackets” because of the capsule color, the drug Nembutal (generic name pentobarbital) has the rather dubious distinction of being the drug that Marilyn Monroe, unfortunately, overdosed on. Like other barbiturates, Nembutal can be very dangerous because the difference between a medical dose and overdose is slim. 

In fact, these drugs are not commonly prescribed anymore for this reason. And for those who abuse or develop a dependence on the drug, Nembutal withdrawal can be difficult as the withdrawal symptoms are severe and can be deadly. Because of this, it’s imperative to find a professional addiction treatment program to support you during the detox and recovery process.

What Are the Nembutal Withdrawal Symptoms?

Like other barbiturates, Nembutal is a central nervous system depressant that binds to the GABAreceptors in the brain, which creates the sensations of deep relaxation and sleep. 

The difference between a prescribed dose of Nembutal and overdose is small. It can also be easy to develop a dependence on or addiction to this drug due to its powerful sedative effects. At that point, trying to stop taking Nembutal can be difficult because your body has become dependent on it and you will experience Nembutal withdrawal symptoms if you try to stop taking it.

Just like withdrawing from other barbiturates, Nembutal withdrawal can be very dangerous and should not be attempted at home. Up to 75 percent of people withdrawing from barbiturates experience seizures. Up to 66 percent may experience delirium that lasts a few days.

Symptoms of Nembutal withdrawal include:

  • Tremors
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Stomach cramps
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Hallucinations
  • High temperature
  • Seizures
  • Heart failure
  • Death

Major Nembutal withdrawal symptoms usually occur about 16 hours after the last dose. These symptoms last for about five days. These include:

  • Convulsions
  • Delirium

What Are the Stages of the Nembutal Withdrawal Timeline?

As with most barbiturates, minor Nembutal withdrawal symptoms usually start about eight to 12 hours after the last dose.

These may include:

  • Anxiety
  • Muscle twitching
  • Hand tremors
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Distorted vision
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Insomnia
  • Low blood pressure

It’s important to keep in mind that some barbiturate withdrawal symptoms, particularly mental and emotional symptoms, may last for several months or years.

Why Should I Detox?

Quitting drugs cold turkey may sound like a good idea, but it can be difficult, painful, and dangerous. In some cases, it can be dangerous and even deadly.

Given the difficult physical symptoms, withdrawing on your own without professional medical help can be very challenging. It’s important to find a professional, medically assisted detox program to support you during the process of Nembutal withdrawal.

Doing this will ensure that you are carefully monitored in a safe environment while your body goes through the difficult detoxification process. Participating in an addiction treatment program also gives you a better chance at lasting recovery as a result of the structured medical and emotional support you will receive.

What Is the Next Treatment Step?

A full continuum of treatment ensures the best opportunity for a successful recovery. Following a full continuum of treatment means starting with the medical detox process and then progressing gradually from an inpatient status to outpatient treatment. You will then have the opportunity to participate in an alumni program after the formal treatment program is completed. The stages of addiction treatment include:


The primary goal is medical stabilization during the first stage of withdrawal treatment, which is known as detox. Expect the detox stage to last from a few days up to a week. When you arrive, your medical team—which will include doctors, nurses, and support staff— will complete your comprehensive medical assessment, which will help determine your level of addiction and additional medical needs you may have. The assessment includes a medical exam plus a urine screening for drugs.

Your medical team will monitor you 24/7 to help manage uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms and prevent dangerous Nembutal withdrawal symptoms.

Many people also experience anxiety, depression, and other emotional and psychological challenges during the detox period. Your treatment plan will also include comprehensive support to help you with these symptoms. A longer-term treatment plan will be put into place for you once you are medically stabilized.


If you and the treatment team determine that you need further medical treatment, you may continue the next stage of treatment on an inpatient basis, which might be because of co-occurring medical conditions or post-acute withdrawal symptoms. Inpatient treatment is intensive and includes 24/7 clinical monitoring. At this stage, you will start seeing a therapist regularly to help you process the emotional and psychological aspects of addiction and recovery.


Partial hospitalization (PHP) is in-between outpatient treatment and inpatient care. The goal of PHP is to stabilize your mental status and better prepare you for success once you return to independent living after you leave the treatment center. During this stage, you’ll live at a transitional living facility while undergoing a supportive and rigorous treatment program. This program will be five days a week for six hours each day. You will be able to participate in individual, group, and family therapy programs to help you address emotional and mental health needs.

Learning positive life skills, coping mechanisms, and techniques to help prevent relapse so that you will be prepared for long-term recovery will be the primary focus during PHP.

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Intensive Outpatient

The next stage is the intensive outpatient program (IOP). An IOP allows you to live at home while also attending counseling and programs to help support your recovery. Depending on your treatment plan, you will participate in about nine or more hours of clinical therapy several times each week.

Intensive outpatient therapy will help you to continue learning new ways to manage cravings, stress, and other challenging issues that may arise once you live on your own again. After you complete the IOP stage, you will transition into the Outpatient and Alumni programs, which is also known as aftercare.


You will have the opportunity to meet other treatment center alumni during weekly support groups and social events after you complete the formal treatment program. These aftercare opportunities spent with other alumni members can help you develop new friendships and build social support with others who understand the recovery process.

Being a part of this supportive network can help you grow while focusing on your recovery and adjusting to life after the treatment program. It can also be a safe space to share relapse prevention strategies, new experiences, and techniques for stress management. Most of all, it can be a way to enjoy time with new friends.

Start Your Journey to Recovery Today

If you need help with Nembutal withdrawal, contact the admissions specialists at Ocean Breeze Recovery today for free and confidential help. Our specialists are available 24/7 and they can provide guidance and support as you begin your recovery journey. They will discuss the treatment process with you and answer any questions you may have.

After speaking with a specialist, you will know what to expect from our evidence-based services. You will feel prepared to make an informed decision about your plans for treatment. Our specialists can also check with your private health insurance to see if your treatment costs will be fully covered. Remember, you don’t have to go through this alone. Call us today at 844-554-9279 and let us help you get started on your journey to recovery.

Sources (2020, March 2) Pentobarbital (injection). Retrieved from

MedicalNewsToday. (2018, June 25) Everything you need to know about barbiturates. Risks. Davis, K. FNP Retrieved from

NIDA. (2020, May 29). Is there a difference between physical dependence and addiction?. Retrieved from

WebMD. (2018, November 15) Barbiturate Abuse. Bhandari, S. M.D. Retrieved from

Psychology Today. (2010, January 13) Alcohol, Benzos, and Opiates—Withdrawal That Might Kill You. Jaffe, A. PhD Retrieved from

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