Fiorinal is a medication that is commonly prescribed to treat tension headaches. It contains a combination of different drugs including aspirin, butalbital (a barbiturate or CNS depressant drug), and caffeine. Certain versions of the drug also contain codeine (a natural opiate used to treat pain). The medication is effective when used safely under a doctor’s care.

However, there are two different drugs present in the medication that can cause addiction. According to the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center, “Codeine and butalbital may be habit-forming and should be used only by the person for whom it was prescribed.” When individuals begin to abuse the drug for the euphoria that can be caused by high doses of opioids and depressants, addiction can form quickly.

What Causes Fiorinal Addiction?

Those who abuse the drug over a long period of time begin to crave the feelings it causes, making them unable to stop their abuse. Many individuals will continue to abuse Fiorinal even when it causes problems in their day-to-day lives, a strong sign of addiction. In most cases before putting a patient on this medication, a doctor will ask if they have had issues in the past with drug abuse or addiction in order to avoid that problem.

People who abuse Fiorinal will begin to desire the effects of the drug above all else. Because they often experience the issue of tolerance, they will continue to take more of the drug each time in order to continue feeling the same effects. This action will only cause addiction to set in more quickly.

According to DailyMed, “Butalbital, aspirin, caffeine, and codeine phosphate capsules are controlled by the Drug Enforcement Administration and is classified under Schedule III.” However, even if codeine is not present in a specific prescription of Fiorinal, it does not meant that the individual who abuses it will not become addicted, as butalbital can be habit-forming as well.

What are the Signs of Fiorinal Addiction?


Abusing this drug constantly will cause a person to show signs of

  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Concentration problems

Every one of these intoxication signs can be caused by both butalbital and codeine. The individual will likely exhibit many gastrointestinal issues as well including stomach pain, nausea, and vomiting. With the abuse of Fiorinal with codeine, addicts may also experience constipation, one of the most common and complained of symptoms of any opioid treatment regimen.

Barbiturates can also cause memory problems, which is a sign that someone you care for is abusing these drugs consistently. The individual will likely have trouble remembering events that happened very recently and especially those which occurred during their intoxication.

Those who are addicted to Fiorinal may also experience severe withdrawal symptoms that include “convulsions and delirium” due to the presence of butalbital and painful muscle, joint, and bone aches as well as flu-like symptoms due to the presence of codeine.

The Consequences of Fiorinal Addiction

According to the University of Utah, merely experiencing withdrawal symptoms does not always mean that a person is addicted to Fiorinal. “Addiction is a behavior related to getting and using a drug for a non-medical reason.” Still, when someone begins to abuse a drug by taking more of it than they were prescribed, addiction can also occur with all of its consequences.

Those who become addicted to this drug often experience

  • Dependence
  • Tolerance
  • Overdose
    • Overdosing on this drug can be deadly, not only because of the effects of codeine (which can cause serious respiratory depression) but also butalbital (which may cause tremors, seizures, respiratory depression and shock). In addition, high doses of aspirin may cause kidney damage. The signs of overdose include jaundice (or yellowing of the skin), shallow or no breathing at all, convulsions, pinpoint pupils, and a fast heart rate.
  • Problems in their lives with work, school, friends, and family members
  • A dissatisfaction toward all other aspects of their lives and, eventually, toward the drug itself
    • This, however, does not mean that the individual will stop abusing Fiorinal if they are truly addicted.
  • Legal and financial problems
  • Health issues such as:
    • Insomnia
    • Stomach problems
    • Bloody stool
    • Urination problems
    • Heart problems

Addiction to this drug can become extremely dangerous and cause many individuals to experience either physical health problems, mood disturbances and psychological distress, or deadly overdose. Unfortunately, though, no matter how dangerous abuse of the substance becomes to the individual, they will continue to take it because they will be unable to stop themselves. This is where the need for professional treatment comes in.

Treatment for Fiorinal Addiction

Because the medication contains two drugs that can both cause addiction, treatment should be handled with particular care. Many individuals who become addicted to Fiorinal with codeine need treatment for both the opioid addiction and the barbiturate addiction. Treating addiction to prescription opioids can often be done with the help of certain medications like naltrexone, buprenorphine, or methadone. However, one of these may not be suitable when the individual is also addicted to butalbital so you should absolutely discuss your options with your doctor first.

Your treatment regimen will likely begin with medically-assisted withdrawal, but patients are not able to fight addiction with this type of treatment alone.

The best treatments for Florinal addiction are behavioral and include:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Contingency management
  • 12-step facilitation therapy
  • Family and relationship counseling for drug addicted individuals

According to the NIDA, “Cognitive-behavioral therapy, which focuses on modifying the patient’s thinking, expectations, and behaviors while increasing skills for coping with various life stressors,” may be the best potential treatment for Fiorinal addiction, as it will acknowledge the multiple reasons for the drug’s addictive nature and how patients can fight against this.

Fiorinal addiction is particularly problematic because of the combination of several different medications which can all be dangerous when abused in high doses. If you think you may be addicted to Fiorinal, seek treatment immediately so that you can avoid these issues and get back to the way you feel your life should be.