What Is A Lethal Dose Of Nembutal (Pentobarbital)?

Medically Reviewed by Johnelle Smith, M.D. on August 2, 2023

Nembutal is a sedative used in euthanasia, pre-surgery sedation, the treatment of short-term insomnia, and more. Overdose is not very common, but if taken at high doses, it can be fatal.

What Is The Lethal Dose Of Pentobarbital?

Nembutal is a sedative used to treat short-term insomnia. It’s also used to make patients fall asleep pre-surgery, as an emergency treatment for seizures, and for animal euthanasia.

It’s a very powerful drug, and at high doses, it can be fatal. The lethal dose of Nembutal, generic name pentobarbital, is about 30 milligrams per liter (mg/L).

Learn more about the lethal doses of commonly abused drugs.

How A Lethal Dose Of Nembutal (Pentobarbital) Is Determined

Nembutal is a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Schedule II controlled substance. This means the drug has a high potential for abuse and may lead to physical dependence.

It acts as a central nervous system depressant that causes sedation and relaxation.

The lethal dose of Nembutal can range between 2 to 10 grams (g). However, there have been non-lethal cases in which upwards of 20 grams have been ingested.

The lethal dose depends on a few factors, such as a person’s tolerance to Nembutal, weight, age, and dosage.

Has Anyone Survived A Lethal Dose Of Nembutal (Pentobarbital)?

If caught early enough and treated immediately by medical professionals, Nembutal overdose is survivable.

One 45-year-old man intentionally ingested 20 g of pentobarbital, and though he suffered multiple life-threatening consequences, he survived after a 10-day hospital stay.

In another case, a young male ingested 13 g and lived after a week-long hospital stay.

How Can A Nembutal (Pentobarbital) Overdose Occur?

Fatal overdose on Nembutal is not very common, but it is possible.

This is a habit-forming drug. If a person ingests upwards of 400 milligrams (mg) daily for 90 days, physical dependence will likely form.

Withdrawal seizures may happen after taking 600 to 800 mg daily for 35 days.

As tolerance develops in the body, the margin between an intoxicating dose and a fatal dose will become smaller.

If taken at high doses, Nembutal can suppress vital organs and bodily functions, such as speech and mobility.

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Be Aware Of The Signs Of Nembutal (Pentobarbital) Overdose

If you or someone you love takes pentobarbital, it’s important to recognize the signs of overdose. A Nembutal overdose is treatable with medical detoxification, if it is caught early enough.

If you or a loved one use Nembutal, look out for the following signs of overdose:

  • confusion
  • agitation
  • drowsiness
  • weak pulse
  • slowed or stopped breathing
  • headaches
  • extreme sedation
  • rash or large blisters
  • kidney failure
  • slurred speech
  • coma

In the event that someone overdoses on Nembutal, do not make them throw up. Call 911 or your local poison control right away.

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Medically Reviewed by
Johnelle Smith, M.D. on August 2, 2023
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