Pentothal (Thiopental) Detox: Effects And Timeline

Medically Reviewed by Johnelle Smith, M.D on October 11, 2021

Pentothal (thiopental) is a rapid-onset anesthetic that has powerful depressant effects on the central nervous system. Detoxing from Pentothal may require medical treatment and clinical supervision to prevent serious complications.

How To Detox From Pentothal

Thiopental, also known by the brand name Pentothal, is a short-acting barbiturate drug that is most commonly used to prepare people for anesthesia prior to surgery.

Chronic use or abuse of Pentothal can result in physical dependence and withdrawal. Because barbiturate withdrawal can be life-threatening, getting off Pentothal may require medical detox.

Detox programs for Pentothal abuse or addiction can offer treatment for side effects of Pentothal detox, provide safety during the detox process, and offer a referral to addiction treatment.

Learn more about how to detox from barbiturates

Thiopental Detox Side Effects And Withdrawal Symptoms

Pentothal is a very powerful sedative that can cause withdrawal symptoms within hours of a person’s last dose, due to its short duration of action in the body.

Side effects and symptoms of Pentothal withdrawal may include:

  • anxiety
  • tremors
  • muscle twitching
  • dizziness
  • faintness
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • changes in vision
  • convulsions
  • delirium
  • sweating

Withdrawal is the body’s reaction to Pentothal detox in people who’ve developed a physical dependence on the drug through heavy or long-term use.

Dependence can develop through chronic Pentothal treatment, or as a result of the repeated misuse of Pentothal alone or in combination with other drugs.

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Pentothal Detox And Withdrawal Timeline

Withdrawal may begin within hours of your last dose, if you have drug dependence. Minor withdrawal will set in first, followed by major withdrawal if treatment is not provided.

The full process of detoxing from Pentothal may take several days, or even several weeks if you are withdrawing from a very high dose of Pentothal.

Tapering off Pentothal, which can take time, is typically necessary in order to prevent severe withdrawal symptoms and protect one’s health and safety during detox.

Who Needs Pentothal Detox?

Detoxification, or detox, is the first step in overcoming barbiturate addiction, which includes addiction to drugs like Pentothal, Seconal (secobarbital), Nembutal (pentobarbital), and Luminal.

Signs of Pentothal addiction might include:

  • taking high doses of Pentothal
  • abusing Pentothal alone or with other drugs
  • inability to cut down on or stop using Pentothal
  • frequent sedation or sleepiness
  • increased use of Pentothal over time
  • feeling anxious or physically sick within hours of your last Pentothal dose

Without proper treatment, thiopental detox may cause intense symptoms of withdrawal. In the worst of cases, this can result in fatal outcomes.

What Are The Dangers Of Pentothal Detox?

Barbiturate withdrawal, including withdrawal from Pentothal, can be lethal if side effects of the detox process are not properly managed and treated by medical professionals.

Without treatment, severe barbiturate withdrawal can lead to seizures, circulatory failure, and death.

Risk factors for life-threatening Pentothal withdrawal include:

  • older age
  • history of substance abuse
  • renal impairment
  • impaired kidney function
  • chronic history of Pentothal withdrawal
  • poor overall health
  • polysubstance abuse
  • detoxing “cold-turkey”

Can You Stop Taking Pentothal Cold Turkey?

Pentothal is not a drug that should be stopped abruptly. This is particularly true if you have been taking high doses of it regularly for at least several weeks.

Medical detox for getting off Pentothal may be advised if you have been taking it for a long time or have a history of Pentothal abuse or addiction.

Medical Detox Programs For Pentothal Addiction

Medical detox programs offer 24-hour medical support and treatment for drug withdrawal within a safe and supervised setting.

What medical detox programs can offer:

  • around-the-clock observation
  • withdrawal symptom relief
  • treatment to prevent severe withdrawal
  • treatment referral for substance abuse

Finding Pentothal Detox And Addiction Treatment

Although Pentothal is not generally prescribed, it can be acquired through illicit means and become addictive with chronic use.

Overcoming an addiction to Pentothal is possible, but it may require medical and behavioral health treatment, in addition to initial detoxification.

To find Pentothal detox options for yourself or a loved one, call our helpline today to speak to one of our staff about finding a treatment program that’s right for you.

This page does not provide medical advice. See more

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Medically Reviewed by
Johnelle Smith, M.D on October 11, 2021
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