Barbs, beans, black beauties, blockbusters, blue angels, brain ticklers, downers, goofballs, goofers, green dragons, nembies, nimbies, phennies, pink ladies, purple hearts, sleepers, yellow bullets, yellow jackets
Forms and appearance
Come as tablets or capsules in a variety of sizes and colours.
In the 1950s and 1960s barbiturates were regularly prescribed by doctors to treat anxiety and induce sleep.
Effects of use
Effects start within 1-2 hours, and last 6-24 hours. These can quickly build up in the body producing a ‘hangover’ effect.
Effects start within 15-30 minutes, and last 2-8 hours. They are less likely to produce a ‘hangover’ effect.
Produce complete anaesthesia almost immediately, and are used for IV injection in hospitals.
Effects of use during pregnancy are similar to those of alcohol, as the drug is carried in bloodstream to the foetus. Babies can suffer from withdrawal and impaired development due to brain damage in the womb.
Tolerance and dependence
Prolonged use causes physical and psychological dependence, and today benzodiazepines are often prescribed instead.
Withdrawal symptoms are far worse than those for heroin or morphine, and some effects can last for months. Some of the withdrawal symptoms include: anxiety, inability to sleep or relax, increased temperature, trembling, increased heart rate, faintness, nausea, abdominal cramps, dizziness, hallucinations and convulsions.
The margin of safety is very narrow, especially when combined with alcohol, and the toxic effects of the drug can result in death.
Amytal tablets contain the barbiturate drug amylobarbitone in various strengths. The tablets shown are 30mg
Sodium Amytal capsules contain amylobarbitone sodium. They come in two strengths. Street names include ‘birds’ and ‘blue heavens’
Soneryl tablets, with 100mg of the barbiturate drug butobarbitone
Tunial capsules are distinctive orangey red and blue capsules, with the drugs quinalbarbitone sodium and amylobarbitone in equal parts. Street names include ‘rainbows’ and ‘reds and blues’