Addiction A-Z

Methohexital

Methohexital is the generic name for the drug Brevital Sodium and is used to induce anesthesia prior to surgical procedures in adults and children older than one month of age. Patients may also be prescribed methohexital to help induce sleep, either alone or in combination with other medications.

A barbiturate anesthetic, methohexital depresses the activity of the brain in an effort to inhibit painful sensations and inducing sleep.

Methohexital is a Schedule IV drug covered under the U.S. Controlled Substances Act and therefore, can be habit forming. The drug is a narcotic and therefore has the potential to produce dependence of the morphine type if it is abused. If methohexital is taken beyond its intended dosage or for long periods of time, dependence is very likely.

As methohexital is meant for anesthetic uses only, anything beyond this intent to achieve a desired high can put an individual’s life at risk. Methohexital can easily be abused when acquired through illicit means. Repeated administration of the drug can easily result in psychological dependence, physical dependence and tolerance.

Methohexital should only be administered by the vein under the supervision of a physician. The individual’s response to the medication should be consistently monitored and dosage is dependent upon medical condition and response to the therapy. Pain and redness can occur at the injection site and the individual may also experience drowsiness, headache, nausea, vomiting or shivering.

Less common side effects can be very serious and can include changes in skin appearance, mental/mood changes, severe pain or redness in the leg, hiccups, cough, skeletal muscle twitching, seizures, low blood pressure and a fast, slow or irregular heartbeat.

When methohexital is used consistently, it can mimic some of the characteristics of alcohol intoxication, including euphoria, elation and inhibited behavior. Symptoms of withdrawal can occur 12-20 hours after the last dose and in some applications, can be life-threatening.

Withdrawal symptoms associated with cessation of methohexital can include, but are not limited to:

  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Elevated respiration rate
  • Muscle pain
  • Nausea
  • Tremors
  • Hallucinations
  • Confusion
  • Seizures

The consistent use and abuse of methohexital should be difficult to achieve as it is generally given in a hospital or clinical setting. The drug, however, is still diverted for illicit use and therefore abused. Some users do develop an addition to the drug and the withdrawal process can very difficult. The individual could have both a psychological and physical addiction, making it necessary to seek a comfortable detox method.

A quality center will recommend that users taper off the medication slowly under the care of a board-certified physician and board-certified addiction psychiatrist. Such an approach to treatment will ensure the individual rids their body of the drug completely. A full physical on a patient is generally needed to determine the right medications for this method.

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