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Benzodiazepine Overdose | Risks, Symptoms, & Treatment

Published on March 29, 2021
Benzodiazepine Overdose | Risks, Symptoms, & Treatment

Benzodiazepines, commonly known as benzos, prescription drugs used primarily for sedation purposes and as anticonvulsants. 

They also help treat panic disorder, seizures, anxiety, and sleep disorders. Some of the common types of benzodiazepines include:

  • Restoril (temazepam)
  • Librium (chlordiazepoxide)
  • Klonopin (clonazepam)
  • Xanax (alprazolam)
  • Ativan (lorazepam)
  • Valium (diazepam)

Benzodiazepine misuse can cause a number of negative side effects. Because benzodiazepines slow down heart rate and breathing, overdose deaths can happen quickly and unexpectedly.

Benzodiazepine Overdose Symptoms

Those addicted to benzodiazepines will feel the effects of the drug more strongly once ingestion occurs. This is also the case if the substance is snorted or injected. 

Some benzodiazepine overdose symptoms that may occur include:

  • blurred vision
  • slurred speech
  • low blood pressure
  • headache 
  • slowed breathing
  • drowsiness
  • nausea 
  • change in heart rate

If you suspect someone is overdosing, call for medical help immediately. The use of benzodiazepines can result in death if an overdose occurs.

Benzodiazepine Overdose Risks

If you misuse benzodiazepines with other substances, you can increase your risk of overdose. For instance, overdose is more likely to occur if you mix benzodiazepines with:

  • alcohol 
  • depressants
  • opioids 
  • certain sleep aids
  • stimulants 

When dealing with an overdose, it’s important to know about all of the drugs in your system. This will allow doctors and healthcare personnel to have the information they need to successfully help you through an overdose.

Consequences Of Benzodiazepine Overdose

Benzodiazepine abuse can take place when a person starts taking high doses. Once someone overdoses on benzodiazepines, serious ramifications occur. 

Some of the consequences of benzodiazepine overdose include:

  • hospitalization 
  • life-threatening symptoms
  • damage to the central nervous system
  • coma 
  • death
  • supportive care

Treating Benzodiazepine Overdose

Supportive care for an overdose may include endotracheal intubation to counter respiratory depression. This is necessary in order to provide proper airway management and to control the breathing of the person who overdosed. 

Any drug overdose can lead you to the emergency department where doctors will work quickly to remedy the symptoms and prevent a fatal overdose. To help with low blood pressure and low heart rate, you may receive a variety of fluids and medications to help. 

If needed, doctors can administer the medication flumazenil which is often used as a benzo overdose antidote. This medication is fast-acting and blocks the chemical actions of benzodiazepines in the brain. 

Benzodiazepine Addiction Treatment

If you think you might have an addiction to benzodiazepines, know that help is available. Professionals at numerous treatment facilities can work with you, give you medical advice, and assist you on your way to recovery.

At Ark Behavioral Health, we provide a detox as well as inpatient and outpatient care. Our healthcare workers offer behavioral therapy, group therapy, and other forms of care to assist you.

To learn more about our substance abuse treatment programs, please connect with us today.

Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
This page does not provide medical advice.

Drug Enforcement Administration - Benzodiazepines
FDA - Flumazenil
National Center for Biotechnology Information - Benzodiazepine Toxicity
National Institute on Drug Abuse - Benzodiazepines and Opioids
National Institute on Drug Abuse - Tolerance, Dependence, Addiction: What’s the Difference?
National Library of Medicine - The Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Syndrome
National Library of Medicine: National Institutes of Health - Benzodiazepine Pharmacology and Central Nervous System Mediated Effects

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