Introduction to Barbiturates
Barbiturates are prescription drugs derived from barbituric acid and used as tranquilizers. First developed in the 1860's it wasn't until 1903 that 'barbital', the first barbiturate was used in medicine. Since this time barbiturates have been prescribed mainly to induce sleep, relieve anxiety and to treat seizure disorders.
However prescription drugs have the potential to be just as dangerous as street drugs. Barbiturates are very addictive and their contribution to a large number of death due to overdoses led scientists to look for safer drugs with the same effects.
The new class of drugs developed were called benzodiazepines and were again based on barbituric acid. These were considered to be safer than barbiturates and were first used medically in the 1960's. Benzodiazepines are used to reduce anxiety and to treat insomnia as barbiturates do, but are also used as muscle relaxants and for controlling convulsions. These drugs are also very addictive.