Butalbital, or 5-allyl-5-isobutylbarbituric acid, is a derivative of barbituric acid which the hydrogens at position 5 are substituted by an allyl group and an isobutyl group.
It is a short-to-intermediate acting member of barbiturates that exhibit muscle-relaxing and anti-anxiety properties that produce central nervous system (CNS) depression that ranges from mild sedation to general anesthesia 1. Butalbital has a low degree of selectivity and a narrow therapeutic index.
Typically indicated to manage tension (or muscle contraction) headaches, butalbital is often combined with one or more therapeutic agents, such as acetylsalicylic acid, acetaminophen, aspirin, and caffeine. There have not been clinical trials that evaluate the clinical efficacy of butalbital in migraines thus it is not indicated for such condition.
As with other barbiturates, butalbital carries a risk of abuse or misuse potential, intoxication, hangover, tolerance, dependence, and over-dosage possibly leading to death Label.
Butalbital‐containing analgesics can also produce a drug‐induced headache in addition to tolerance and dependence. Due to these risks, the use of butalbital-containing combination products is typically limited for use only in cases where other medications are deemed ineffective and such usage is advised to be carefully monitored.
Butalbital, acetaminophen, and caffeine combination is used to relieve symptoms of tension (or muscle contraction) headaches.
Butalbital belongs to the group of medicines called barbiturates. Barbiturates act in the central nervous system (CNS) to produce their effects.
Fioricet is a prescription medication typically prescribed as a treatment for tension headaches. The medication is also available as an opiate painkiller, and experiencing a Fioricet withdrawal is a definite possibility when someone has taken the substance regularly for a long period of time.
When a person goes through the process of withdrawing from a substance, including prescription painkillers, it’s essentially the body going into shock. The individual may have been taking the substance for such a long period of time that their body and brain became used to the substance’s presence. When someone with Fioricet use disorder suddenly stops taking the substance, their body feels like it’s lost a sense of normalcy and balance.
The medical definition of withdrawal symptoms include anything that’s psychological or physically abnormal that occurs after an individual stops taking a substance to which they had a physical dependence on. Similar to opioid withdrawal, some of the common Fioricet withdrawal symptoms include sweating, vomiting, and insomnia.
The withdrawal symptoms of any substance can range from being mildly uncomfortable to nearly debilitating, but the key to stopping substance misuse is going through withdrawal without too many complications. One of the best ways to do this for Fioricet, or any substance, is in a medically supervised detoxification program.
During a medically supervised detox, medical professionals and addiction specialists can help clients remain comfortable and then give them the tools and resources they need to begin on the path to recovery.
Acetaminophen is used to relieve pain and reduce fever in patients. It does not become habit-forming when taken for a long time. But acetaminophen may cause other unwanted effects when taken in large doses, including liver damage.
When butalbital is used for a long time, it may become habit-forming, causing mental or physical dependence. However, people who have continuing pain should not let the fear of dependence keep them from using narcotics to relieve their pain. Physical dependence may lead to withdrawal side effects if treatment is stopped suddenly. However, severe withdrawal side effects can usually be prevented by gradually reducing the dose over a period of time before treatment is stopped completely.
Caffeine is a CNS stimulant that is used with pain relievers to increase their effect. It has also been used for migraine headaches. However, caffeine can also cause physical dependence when it is used for a long time. This may lead to withdrawal (rebound) headaches when you stop taking it.
This medicine is available only with your doctor’s prescription.
Before taking this medicine
Do not use Fioricet if you have taken an MAO inhibitor in the past 14 days. A dangerous drug interaction could occur. MAO inhibitors include isocarboxazid, linezolid, phenelzine, rasagiline, selegiline, and tranylcypromine.
You should not use Fioricet if you are allergic to acetaminophen, butalbital, or caffeine, if you have porphyria, or if you have recently used alcohol, sedatives, tranquilizers, or other narcotic medications.
To make sure Fioricet is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:
- liver disease, cirrhosis, a history of alcoholism or drug addiction, or if you drink more than 3 alcoholic beverages per day;
- kidney disease;
- asthma, sleep apnea, or other breathing disorder;
- stomach ulcer or bleeding;
- a history of skin rash caused by any medication;
- a history of mental illness or suicidal thoughts; or
- if you use medicine to prevent blood clots.
It is not known whether Fioricet will harm an unborn baby. If you use butalbital while you are pregnant, your baby could become dependent on the drug. This can cause life-threatening withdrawal symptoms in the baby after it is born. Babies born dependent on habit-forming medicine may need medical treatment for several weeks. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.
This medicine can pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby. Tell your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.
What other drugs will affect Fioricet?
Taking this medicine with other drugs that make you sleepy or slow your breathing can cause dangerous or life-threatening side effects. Ask your doctor before taking Fioricet with a sleeping pill, narcotic pain medicine, muscle relaxer, or medicine for anxiety, depression, or seizures.
Other drugs may interact with acetaminophen, butalbital, and caffeine, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Tell each of your health care providers about all medicines you use now and any medicine you start or stop using.
What is Fioricet Used For?
If you have ever experienced a migraine, you know the level of misery it can bring. Migraines go well beyond the pain or pressure of a typical headache, and they’re often accompanied by symptoms that can range to uncomfortable to scary. When you have a migraine doctors believe it’s something different from just a bad headache. Instead of being related to blood vessels, doctors believe that a lot of what causes migraines has to do with neurological things like brain chemicals.
With that being said, people who suffer from migraines often search for treatments that will work for them, and they also tend to have to go through several different medications before they get to one that will work for them.
One medication people sometimes consider is Fioricet, but doctors warn this should be a last resort for migraines, and there’s some debate over whether or not it works at all for migraine sufferers.
Is Fioricet Used As A Migraine Treatment?
In some cases, Fioricet may be used as a migraine treatment, but it’s not a first or even second choice among physicians. There are a few reasons. First, as was touched on above, Fioricet is primarily used for the treatment of tension headaches, which are very different from migraines. A lot of doctors feel that Fioricet doesn’t even necessarily work on migraine pain. There are a lot of other treatment options that are more specifically for the treatment of migraines, and they work in ways that are different from Fioricet.According to the FDA, Fioricet isn’t approved for the treatment of migraines at all. It may have some benefits for migraine sufferers in that it can provide them with a sense of physiological calmness because of how it works on the central nervous system, but there again are better ways to treat migraines.
Another reason Fioricet isn’t necessarily an ideal migraine treatment is because of the risks that come with it.
Butalbital is a substance that can be habit-forming, and the use of Fioricet has actually led to addiction problems and physical dependence for some of the people who use it. It may be a prescription medicine, but that certainly doesn’t mean it’s risk-free.
Another risk associated with the use of Fioricet is the potential for liver toxicity from acetaminophen. Acetaminophen taken in large doses can result in liver injury and failure, and it has to be taken carefully and only as prescribed.
So, to sum up, what is Fioricet used for? The FDA approves the use of this prescription medication for the treatment of tension headaches primarily, as well as something called a post-dural puncture headache, which can occur following something like anesthesia administered in the spine.
The FDA doesn’t approve Fioricet for the treatment of migraine headaches, both because it’s not the most effective available treatment option, and also because there are risks that come with the use of Fioricet including addiction, dependence and side effects like potential liver toxicity.