Fioricet (Butalbital) Addiction And Treatment Options

Medically Reviewed by Johnelle Smith, M.D. on May 27, 2022

Fioricet is a combination drug used to relieve tension headaches. Fioricet can be habit-forming and contains ingredients that can be addictive. Taking Fioricet in ways other than prescribed can be a sign of drug abuse and may require substance abuse treatment.

Fioricet (Butalibital) Addiction — Abuse And Treatment Options

Fioricet is the brand name for a prescription pain reliever that contains the active ingredients acetaminophen, butalbital, and caffeine.

Although effective for pain relief, Fioricet may be misused and become addictive when taken in ways other than prescribed.

Taking large doses of Fioricet or taking Fioricet with other drugs can be a sign of drug abuse. Addiction to Fioricet can be treated through drug detox, inpatient rehab, and behavioral therapy.

What Is Fioricet?

Fioricet is a combination barbiturate drug that contains the following:

  • acetaminophen: also known as the active ingredient in Tylenol, this ingredient can relieve pain and fever
  • butalbital: a sedative and schedule III controlled substance that can cause sleepiness, reduce anxiety, and relieve tension
  • caffeine: a stimulant that can boost the effects of the acetaminophen

Fioricet is a prescription painkiller that is used to treat tension headaches and migraines. People may be prescribed prescription drugs like Fioricet if they experience chronic migraines or tension headaches.

Some formulations of Fioricet also include codeine, which is an opiate drug known for its pain-relieving properties and high addiction potential.

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What Does Fioricet Do?

The acetaminophen in Fioricet can provide pain relief and relax muscle contractions. The butalbital can relieve tension, as well as slow central nervous system (CNS) activity.

Fioricet is generally prescribed as a short-term treatment because it can become habit-forming with chronic use, similar to opioid drugs and benzodiazepines.

Butalbital is the active ingredient in a number of barbiturate drugs that can become addictive with chronic use or misuse.

Side Effects Of Fioricet

Fioricet is a strong painkiller that can produce a range of side effects due to how it interacts with certain chemicals in the brain.

Side effects of Fioricet may include:

  • drowsiness
  • upset stomach
  • depression
  • lightheadedness
  • vomiting
  • confusion

Severe side effects—including skin rashes, itching, and difficulty breathing—can also occur. Talk to your prescribing doctor if you experience severe side effects after taking Fioricet.

Fioricet Abuse And Addiction

Taking Fioricet for an extended amount of time may cause drug tolerance and physical dependence. This can make it difficult to stop taking Fioricet.

Drug dependence can also develop as a result of Fioricet abuse. This can refer to a pattern of misusing Fioricet despite negative consequences to physical or mental health.

Signs of Fioricet abuse include:

  • taking higher doses than prescribed
  • taking doses more often than prescribed
  • taking Fioricet for reasons other than prescribed
  • crushing and snorting Fioricet
  • taking Fioricet with alcohol or other depressants
  • taking pills from someone else’s prescription

Over time, frequent misuse of drugs like Fioricet can lead to addiction. Fioricet can become addictive physically and psychologically.

Why Do People Abuse Fioricet?

Drug abuse and addiction are complex issues that can be influenced by environmental, psychological, hereditary, and biological factors.

People may misuse Fioricet to:

  • become emotionally numb,
  • help them sleep
  • self-medicate anxiety or depression
  • reduce stress

People with a history of drug or alcohol abuse can be at higher risk for abusing Fioricet.

The same is true for people with mental illness, history of trauma, and people who have a family history of drug abuse.

Dangers Of Fioricet Abuse

Fioricet abuse can have negative consequences to your physical and mental well-being.

Understanding the dangers of Fioricet abuse, and signs of these dangers, can be life-saving for you or a loved one who is misusing Fioricet.

Fioricet Addiction

People who abuse Fioricet can be at risk for developing Fioricet addiction. Addiction can be an all-consuming struggle that affects your ability to work, your relationships, and your health.

Addiction can cause you to crave Fioricet during the day, cause drug withdrawal symptoms, and dramatically alter your behavior and interactions with those around you.

Fioricet Overdose: Signs And Symptoms

Fioricet abuse and addiction can also be a risk factor for drug overdose. Overdosing on Fioricet can cause serious health consequences, including liver failure and death.

Signs of Fioricet overdose can include:

  • very low blood pressure
  • convulsions and seizures
  • respiratory depression (difficulty breathing or stopped breathing)
  • confusion
  • sedation
  • nausea and vomiting
  • irregular heartbeat
  • insomnia
  • coma

Overdose can be life-threatening. If someone you know is showing signs of an overdose after taking an excessive amount of Fioricet or mixing Fioricet with other drugs, call 911 right away.

Liver Failure

Taking excessive amounts of Fioricet carries a risk for liver failure, due to the acetaminophen in Fioricet.

Drinking alcohol while taking Fioricet can also increase the risk of liver damage, liver failure, and fatal overdose.

Fioricet Withdrawal: Signs And Symptoms

Taking Fioricet for an extended amount of time, or abusing Fioricet, can lead to drug dependence.

This is when the body becomes accustomed to the presence of a drug in your system, and can lead to symptoms of withdrawal.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Fioricet withdrawal symptoms can range from mild to severe in nature. If you’ve been taking Fioricet for more than a few weeks, do not stop taking Fioricet all at once.

Generally, people who have been taking Fioricet, or misusing Fioricet, will need to gradually taper their dosage with the help of a prescribing physician.

Stopping Fioricet alone and all at once may cause:

  • convulsions
  • seizure
  • psychosis (hallucinations, delusions)
  • nausea and vomiting
  • mood swings

Withdrawal is most likely to develop in people who have been taking Fioricet for a long time, as well as those who have mixed Fioricet with other drugs, including alcohol.

Detox For Treating Fioricet Withdrawal

Entering a medical detox is the most commonly recommended step for people with substance abuse issues who wish to stop taking Fioricet.

Medical detox programs offer a safe, secure, and supervised environment with healthcare providers on standby to provide treatment for symptoms.

Treatment For Fioricet Abuse And Addiction

Recovering from drug addiction is possible. Fioricet is an addictive drug that can be dangerous when misused. If you or someone you know is addicted to Fioricet: You’re not alone.

Treatment programs for Fioricet abuse can include:

  • drug detoxification programs
  • inpatient treatment
  • outpatient rehab programs
  • outpatient counseling
  • aftercare programs

The recommended treatment plan for overcoming Fioricet addiction varies according to each person’s unique physical and mental health needs.

Generally, drug addiction is treated through a combination of individual counseling, support groups, and medication as needed.

Call our helpline today to learn more about the signs of Fioricet addiction and how to find addiction treatment options near you.

This page does not provide medical advice. See more

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Medically Reviewed by
Johnelle Smith, M.D. on May 27, 2022
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