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October 13, 1956


JAMA. 1956;162(7):660-661. doi:10.1001/jama.1956.02970240042012

Like other drugs that have powerful depressant effects on the central nervous system, the barbiturates are subject to uncontrolled and improper use by maladjusted persons. Such misuse takes many forms. The barbiturates may be used in suicidal attempts, they may be taken to reinforce the effects of alcohol, or they may be used as antidotes for central nervous system stimulants, such as the amphetamines. Finally, long-continued ingestion of large amounts of these drugs leads to the development of "true addiction" manifested by convulsions and a delirium after sudden withdrawal of barbiturates.

The clinical symptomatology of barbiturate intoxication is strikingly similar to that of intoxication with alchol.1 Persons who have ingested large doses of barbiturates show difficulty in thinking, impairment of ego controls, poor judgment, emotional instability, and, at times, a toxic psychosis. The neurological signs in both acute and chronic barbiturate intoxication include nystagmus, dysarthria, and ataxia in gait

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