Barbiturate medicines are used to relieve anxiety, control seizures, or produce a state that is like sleep. Barbiturates slow breathing, lower blood pressure and body temperature, and slow thought processes and reaction times.
Frequent or long-term use of barbiturates may make a person dependent on them. In the past, barbiturates were used to treat insomnia. But barbiturates are no longer recommended as sleeping aids because of the potential for dependence.
Common barbiturates include phenobarbital, pentobarbital, and secobarbital (Seconal).