Reasons, Procedure & Preparation For Barbiturates Serum Test

Submitted on March 27, 2012

Barbiturates are a class of drugs that were the precursor to the more often used benzodiazepines. These drugs are used for their ability to lull the system into a state of relaxation and are therefore sedative in nature. Barbiturates are in fact quite famous for their use in anesthetics. They are also widely used in rehab programs especially for alcohol abuse. Barbiturates have the ability to mimic the action of alcohol on the nervous system and thereby are used when facing the withdrawal symptoms from alcoholism. The drug itself is quite prone to abuse in this regard and even gives a feeling of euphoria if taken in an overdose. The test for barbiturates is a blood test.

Reasons for Barbiturates Serum Test

The first obvious reason for the test of barbiturates plasma or a barbiturates serum test is to judge how much of the drug is in the system. This would be required when there is a case of suspected barbiturate abuse. This is quite a common occurrence if the patient is a known alcoholic in rehab for addiction. Barbiturates are sometimes still administered for treating the withdrawal symptoms that come with quitting alcohol.


The test is done by taking a blood sample and then sending it for testing to a lab. There are some immediate testing mechanisms that are also available that resemble a blood sugar quick test using a glucometer. The amount of barbiturate that is in the blood can be questionable since it varies greatly with the age of the patient. Most old patients cannot rid their body of barbiturates in time and this can end up causing some confusion during testing. It is for this reason that the more amenable option of benzodiazepines is used.


There is no specific preparation that you need to do for this test. The chances are that if this test is being administered, it is usually in a condition where the patient is near a comatose situation; thereby, negating any preparation at all. It is however a good idea to bring along the medication that the patient is on and inform the doctor of the dosage being taken. The most likely course of action would be to induce vomiting or some other form of removal of the pills from the stomach to reduce the toxicity levels in the blood. This action will actually save the patient’s life.