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July 1950


Arch NeurPsych. 1950;64(1):1-28. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1950.02310250007001

IN RECENT years abuse of barbiturates has become a problem of increasing concern to physicians, various lay groups, law enforcement officers and legislators. The production of barbiturates has steadily increased and now appears to exceed greatly the amount needed for therapeutic purposes.1 In 1948 the total production of barbiturates in the United States was 672,000 pounds (336,000 Kg.), an amount roughly equivalent to 3,057,730,000 capsules or tablets of 0.1 Gm. each, or approximately 24 doses for each person in the United States. Acute intoxication with barbiturates accounts for about 25 per cent of all patients with acute poisoning admitted to general hospitals2; and more deaths are caused by barbiturates, either accidentally ingested or taken with suicidal intent, than by any other poison.3 Various articles in the lay press4 have attributed automobile accidents and various crimes to barbiturate intoxication and have also stated that illegal trafficking in