Commonly prescribed barbiturates include amobarbital, pentobarbital, phenobarbital and secobarbital, according to WebMD. Thiamylal, mephobarbital, apropbarbital, butobarbital and sodium thiopental are other common barbiturates, as noted by Drugs.com.
Barbiturates are categorized by the length of their duration, and each type of barbiturate is prescribed for different purposes, according to the Palo Alto Medical Foundation. Barbiturates with very short durations, such as thiamylal or sodium thiopental, are primarily used as part of the pre-surgical anesthesia process. Pentobarbital and other barbiturates with moderately short durations are used most frequently to induce sleep. Long-acting barbiturates, including phenobarbital and mephobarbital, are typically administered to sedate or reduce seizure activity in patients.