Introduced in 1903, barbiturates (amobarbital, phenobarbital, pentobarbital, secobarbital)were used for mild to total sedation, but have been widely replaced by benzodiazepines since the 1950s due to their abuse potential. Barbiturates are still used today, however, mostly for the treatment of epilepsy and as a general anesthesia. They can also be used to treat various seizure disorders, insomnia, delirium tremens, and alcohol withdrawal symptoms. An ultra-short acting barbiturate is used to make sodium pentothal (the “truth serum”), and extremely high doses are used in lethal injection and physician-assisted suicide.
See also barbiturate