A technique for withdrawal of patients physically dependent upon barbiturates is applicable to either a medical or psychiatric inpatient service. The technique involves substituting phenobarbital, a long-acting barbiturate, for the addicting agent, and subsequent withdrawal of the phenobarbital. Phenobarbital provides a more constant barbiturate blood level than the shorter-acting barbiturates, which are the usual withdrawal agents. The more constant blood level allows for the safe utilization of smaller daily doses of barbiturates during withdrawal. The method is also suggested treatment for dependence upon many of the newer sedative-hypnotics.