Barbiturates are a class of central nervous system depressants that are commonly used as sedatives, hypnotics, and anticonvulsants. They work by increasing the effects of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA, slowing down the activity of the brain and central nervous system.
Barbiturates have a high potential for abuse and dependence, and are classified as schedule II or III controlled substances, depending on the specific drug. They are typically prescribed for short-term use, as long-term use can result in tolerance, physical and psychological dependence, and overdose. Barbiturates have been largely replaced by benzodiazepines, which are considered safer and have a lower risk of overdose. However, barbiturates are still used for certain medical conditions, such as status epilepticus, or as an anesthetic for surgical procedures.
Misuse of barbiturates can lead to serious health problems and should only be used under the supervision of a healthcare provider.