What is Seconal?


Seconal is a brand name for a drug with an active ingredient called secobarbital. It is a barbiturate that is classified as a sedative-hypnotic, meaning it acts as a depressant and makes you feel sleepy. Seconal is used to treat insomnia, and may also be prescribed to reduce anxiety or to help calm patients before surgery.


This drug isn't usually prescribed for daytime use to reduce anxiety or tension because of its physical effects. Other drugs like Paxil or Prozac are typically recommended since patients will feel less tired from them.

Physical Assisted Suicide

Doctors in Oregon frequently used this drug as a form of lethal injection to help patients commit suicide until the company that made it, Eli Lilly and Company, stopped producing it.


Because seconal depresses the nervous system, an overdose of the drug can be fatal. Signs of a seconal overdose include grogginess, headache, having trouble breathing and low blood pressure.


Seconal can damage a fetus it it's ingested by the mother during pregnancy. The drug can also weaken the effectiveness of birth control pills, and it's recommended that a second form of contraceptive, like condoms, by used while taking it.

Fun Fact

Seconal was one of the drugs that was abused by the characters of Jacqueline Susan's 1966 hit novel "The Valley of the Dolls." The term "doll" was an affectionate name that the characters Anne Welles, Neely O'Hara and Jennifer North called this drug, as well as nembutal and amytal.

Celebrity Deaths

Celebrities who had seconal in their system at the time of their deaths include actress Judy Garland and guitarist Jimi Hendrix. Garland's overdose was accidental, and the circumstances of Hendrix's death remain unclear.

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