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Related to Seconal: Seconal sodium


trademark for preparations of secobarbital sodium, a sedative and hypnotic.
Miller-Keane Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health, Seventh Edition. © 2003 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier, Inc. All rights reserved.


(see-koe-bar-bi-tal) ,


(trade name),


(trade name)


Therapeutic: sedative hypnotics
Pharmacologic: barbiturates
Pregnancy Category: D


Short-term treatment of insomnia.Adjunctive agent for anesthesia.


Produces CNS depression through GABA-like effects.

Therapeutic effects

Induction of sleep, sedation, or anesthesia.


Absorption: Well absorbed following oral administration.
Distribution: Widely distributed; highest concentration in brain and liver. Crosses the placenta; small amounts enter breast milk.
Metabolism and Excretion: Metabolized by the liver.
Protein Binding: 55%.
Half-life: 30 hr.

Time/action profile (hypnotic effect)

PO10–15 min2–4 hr6–8 hr


Contraindicated in: Hypersensitivity; Pre-existing CNS depression; Uncontrolled severe pain; Porphyria; Obstetric / Lactation: Pregnancy or lactation.
Use Cautiously in: Hepatic or renal impairment; Geriatric: Appears on Beers list. At ↑ risk for side effects (dose ↓ recommended); Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; Prolonged use (may lead to physical & psychological dependence).

Adverse Reactions/Side Effects

Central nervous system

  • abnormal thinking
  • behavior changes
  • delirium
  • excess sedation (most frequent)
  • excitation
  • hallucinations
  • mental depression (most frequent)
  • vertigo (most frequent)
  • sleep disorders
  • sleep driving


  • respiratory depression


  • nausea
  • vomiting


  • photosensitivity
  • rashs
  • urticaria


  • arthralgia
  • myalgia


  • neuralgia


  • physical dependence
  • psychological dependence


Drug-Drug interaction

Additive CNS depression with alcohol, antihistamines, antidepressants, opioid analgesics, and other sedative/hypnotics.Valproates may ↓ metabolism and ↑ CNS depression.↑ metabolism and ↓ effects of hormonal contraceptives, chloramphenicol, cyclosporine, corticosteroids, dacarbazine, levothyroxine, and quinidine.St. John's wort may ↓ levels and effect.Concomitant use of kava, valerian,, chamomile, or hops can ↑ CNS depression.


Oral (Adults) Preoperative sedation—200–300 mg 1–2 hr before surgery; bedtime hypnotic—100 mg.
Oral (Children) Preoperative sedation—2–6 mg/kg (not to exceed 100 mg).


Capsules: 100 mg

Nursing implications

Nursing assessment

  • Assess sleep patterns prior to and periodically during therapy. Hypnotic doses of secobarbital suppress REM sleep. Patient may experience an increase in dreaming upon discontinuation of medication.
  • Prolonged therapy may lead to psychological or physical dependence.
  • Assess postoperative patients for pain. Secobarbital may increase responsiveness to painful stimuli.

Potential Nursing Diagnoses

Risk for injury (Side Effects)
Deficient knowledge, related to medication regimen (Patient/Family Teaching)


  • Supervise ambulation and transfer of patients following administration. Remove cigarettes. Side rails should be raised and call bell within reach at all times.

Patient/Family Teaching

  • Discuss the importance of preparing environment for sleep (dark room, quiet, avoidance of nicotine and caffeine).
  • May cause daytime drowsiness. Caution patient to avoid driving and other activities requiring alertness for at least 24 hr after administration and until response to medication is known.
  • Caution patient to avoid taking alcohol or other CNS depressants concurrently with this medication.
  • Advise female patients to use a nonhormonal method of contraception during therapy and until next menstrual period. Instruct patient to contact health care professional immediately if pregnancy is planned or suspected, or if breastfeeding.

Evaluation/Desired Outcomes

  • Improvement in sleep pattern without excessive daytime sedation. Therapy is usually limited to a 2-wk period.
  • Sedation.
Drug Guide, © 2015 Farlex and Partners


(sĕk′ə-nôl′, -năl′, -nəl)
A trademark for the drug secobarbital.
The American Heritage® Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2007, 2004 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
"On her last visit to him, he prescribed Seconal tablets and gave her a prescription for 60 of them, which was unusual in quantity especially since he saw her frequently.
Davis was, according to Ben Hecht among others, "the funniest man in America." When Auden and Isherwood first arrived in America he greeted them dockside in New York and appointed himself their tour guide, supplying them with "Benzedrine tablets to get them going in the morning, Seconal at night to help them sleep, and alcohol to enhance their experience all day long." "It was largely due to him" Isherwood remembered, "that we both fell madly in love with America, and decided to return the first moment we could."
The man, 42-year-old David Prueitt, a terminally ill lung cancer patient, ingested a usually lethal dose of barbiturates - 100 capsules of Seconal dissolved in apple sauce - and fell into a coma, then awoke nearly three days later.
Ellison edited the one-hour program from 19 hours of video-taped interviews with his friend, artist Jo Roman, who had breast cancel: Roman took a fatal overdose of Seconal in 1979.
of central-nervous-system depressants like barbiturates (such as Seconal) and benzodiazepines (such as Valium or Halcion).
Be aware that valerian can augment the effects of barbiturates like Seconal and benzodiazepines such as Valium and Halcion.
Paul, who has ventured to New York City that same night to attempt a rendezvous with a particularly stunning classmate, Libbets Casey, is so nervous at the prospect of spending time at her family's fashionable upper-east-side home that when he arrives he encourages both of them (along with a friend who accompanies him) to ingest a combination of beer, pot, and Seconal from the Casey medicine cabinet.
An 'improved version', phenobarbital (Luminal) followed in 1912 and was later joined by the likes of pentobarbital (Nembutal), secobarbital (Seconal) and amobarbital (Amytal).
She calls to him on his way out that they will be needing more Seconal, though it isn't he who takes it, ever.
The boy had apparently eaten some poisonous berries, but the post mortem revealed traces of the drug seconal in the boy's stomach.