Epilepsy is a medical condition that causes painful and even dangerous convulsions that can lead to injuries, accidents, and other complications. According to the World Health Organization, 50 million people around the world have epilepsy, and many of them use medications to control and manage symptoms. There are a variety of medications on the market designed to treat epilepsy and other conditions that can cause seizures. One such medication is a powerful barbiturate called Mysoline.
Barbiturates are central nervous system depressants that can cause chemical dependence and addiction, along with other side effects when used for too long. Barbiturates were once widely used for a number of different treatments throughout the first half of the 20th century. However, their adverse effects caused them to be largely replaced by alternative treatment options.
However, they are still sometimes used to treat conditions that are resistant to other options. Still, it’s generally advised to use barbiturates like Mysoline as a last resort, and there are a variety of options that are available for you to try before using a potentially addictive drug.
If you do use a barbiturate-like Mysoline, it’s important to know the signs of addiction and what you can do if you’ve started to develop a chemical dependency. Learn more about the effects of Mysoline and how barbiturate addiction can be treated.
Mysoline is the trade name for a barbiturate called primidone which is analog of a powerful substance called phenobarbital. In fact, the body will break down primidone to phenobarbital in the body. Barbiturates are a class of central nervous system (CNS) depressants that have been used to treat sleep disorders, anxiety, and disorders that cause seizures. However, when people began to notice its risk of causing adverse effects and its high likelihood for dependence, doctors began to prescribe alternatives like benzodiazepines and Z-drugs. Still, they are potent and may still be used in some cases.
Like other depressants, including benzodiazepines and alcohol, Mysoline achieves its effects by modulating a receptor in the brain that is activated by gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA). However, one thing that’s unique about Mysoline is that it doesn’t interact with the GABA receptors directly. Instead, the phenobarbital that is produced when the drug breaks down alters GABA and increases its efficiency. GABA receptors have a variety of responsibilities in the brain, but the specific receptors that phenobarbital affects primarily work to manage nervous system excitability. When activated, GABA receptors have hypnotic, anticonvulsant, and anti-anxiety producing effects.
Primidone was first discovered to be an effective treatment for epilepsy in 1949, and it began being sold in the United Kingdom and Germany a year later. The adverse effects were minimized and reported to be mild. However, common side effects and links to serious disorders were discovered throughout the 1960s through the 80s. Common side effects include drowsiness, fatigue, ataxia, headaches, dizziness, involuntary eye movement, and visual disturbances.
Addiction is a chronic disease that has very specific characteristics. If you’ve been using a barbiturate-like Mysoline and you are worried that you might be developing an addiction, the clearest sign is your ability to stop using. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), addiction is characterized by continuing to use despite serious consequences. If your dependence on Mysoline is causing problems at work, straining your relationships, or causing medical issues and you continue to use, that is a clear sign of a substance use disorder.
However, there are several signs that occur before you might fall into that definition of addiction. The first sign that you might have a growing substance use disorder is an increased tolerance to the drug you are taking. Tolerance is marked by the feeling that you need higher doses to achieve the same effects. In many cases, tolerance is normal after taking a drug for an extended period. But when a barbiturate is involved, tolerance is a red flag that chemical dependence may be around the corner.
Dependence is when your brain and body become used to the presence of Mysoline in your system. It stops producing some of its own chemicals and starts relying on the foreign ones that you’re introducing. When you cut back on the drug or stop using it all together, you will start to feel withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal can cause a variety of symptoms, including:
Quitting suddenly can cause intense withdrawal symptoms that can ultimately be fatal. If you feel that you’ve become dependent, it’s important to seek medical help before attempting to quit cold turkey.
Because of its potential for euphoric effects, Mysoline can be abused, which can lead to addiction and other adverse reactions. If you are worried that a loved one might be overusing or abusing Mysoline, there are some signs to consider. Abuse may often be accompanied by intoxication symptoms that mimic alcohol like slurred speech, dizziness, and poor coordination. Someone who’s abusing a barbiturate may also exhibit behavioral symptoms like withdrawing from normal activities, strange sleep patterns, and extreme mood swings.
Treating Mysoline addiction will involve a process of varying levels of care called the continuum of care. This continuum is designed to connect you to treatment that’s appropriate for your needs. The most effective addiction treatment is tailored to individuals, rather than fitting individuals to a set treatment plan.
Because barbiturates can cause dangerous symptoms during withdrawal, the safest way to stop using the drug is to go through medical detox, the highest level of care in addiction treatment. Detox involves 24-hours of medically managed care every day for about a week, depending on your specific needs. During detox, you may be treated with medication to help you avoid dangerous complications and to help ease uncomfortable symptoms.
After detox, clinicians can connect you to a treatment program based on your needs. You may be connected to inpatient services for continued 24/7 care, intensive outpatient treatment, or the less intensive outpatient services.
Mysoline comes with a number of adverse effects that are common in barbiturates, but it also causes some unique adverse symptoms in some people. Some of the consequences of Mysoline abuse could lead to long-term consequences. One of the clearest and most common dangerous of CNS depressant addiction is the risk of dangerous withdrawal symptoms like seizures. Abusing Mysoline can also lead to respiratory depression that leads to brain damage and death, especially when mixed with alcohol.
Mysoline has been noted to cause other serious complications including:
Coulter, D. L. (1988, November). Withdrawal of barbiturate anticonvulsant drugs: Prospective controlled study. from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3147687
Mayo Clinic. (2017, March 01). Primidone (Oral Route) Before Using. from https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/primidone-oral-route/before-using/drg-20065638
National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018, July). Drug Misuse and Addiction. from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/drug-misuse-addiction
U.S. National Library of Medicine. (n.d.). Barbiturate intoxication and overdose: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000951.htm
World Health Organization. (2018, February 8). Epilepsy. from http://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/epilepsy