Drug and Alcohol

What Should I Do if Someone Around Me Overdoses on Benzos?

What Should I Do if Someone Around Me Overdoses on Benzos?

Benzodiazepine abuse and addiction is dangerous, with a very real risk of overdose. Professional drug rehab helps treat benzo addiction.

Written by

brian-mooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

jeremy-arztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

Drug and Alcohol

June 3, 2022

Benzodiazepines, also known as “benzos,” are commonly prescribed by physicians to treat people who suffer from severe anxiety, stress, insomnia, and epilepsy. They are mild tranquilizers, which is why physicians prescribe them to people who suffer from extreme anxiety; however, they can be highly dangerous when used in an excess amount. Benzos, like alcohol and cannabis, are also depressants. 

Other common names for benzodiazepines include: 

  • "Xannies"

  • “Downers” 

  • “Sleepers”

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of an Overdose From Benzos? 

While an individual can overdose on just benzos, it is easier and more dangerous if also taken with alcohol or other substances. Between 2004 and 2008, the CDC explained that emergency room visits relating to non-medical use of benzos increased by 89%. 

The signs and symptoms of an overdose from benzos include:

  • Weakness and lack of coordination 

  • Slurred speech or acting drunk 

  • Hallucinations 

  • Difficulty breathing 

  • Unresponsiveness 

  • Amnesia 

  • Drowsiness or fatigue 

  • Confusion or sudden mood changes 

Opioids and Benzos 

In recent years, the use of opioids has grown exponentially. The combination of opioids and benzos has also increased. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, in 2020, 16% of opioid overdose deaths also included the consumption of benzos. In response to this development, the CDC recommends physicians not prescribe both of these medications to patients simultaneously.

This is because of the fact that people can also accidentally overdose on benzos if they are mixing prescriptions without realizing it. 

The combination of these two drugs is dangerous because they both work to slow down the central nervous system, which is in charge of the brain and spinal cord. The symptoms of an overdose of both benzos and opioids could cause someone to experience extreme sleepiness, slow or difficulty breathing, or a coma. 

If Someone Overdoses on Benzos

The first step if someone around you overdoses on benzos is to call 911. While you're waiting on 911 to arrive, you can proceed to check if they are conscious. If they are, it's critical to keep them talking. This will ensure that they stay awake until the ambulance arrives. You can also stay with the person and make sure to keep them warm. 

However, if they are unconscious, it is best to keep them lying on their side, so they don't choke on saliva or vomit. Your first instinct may be to try and rid the body of the drug by inducing them to vomit, but this can do more harm than good. 

The reason experts explain not to induce someone to vomit is because of the fact that they can potentially breathe that in or choke, which could cause several problems. This is the same reason why emergency rooms no longer pump individuals' stomachs. 

Treatments for Benzo Addiction 

One of the best ways to work on being free from benzo addiction is professional detox. A massive help with the withdrawal process, medical detox makes it safer, more comfortable, and more likely to succeed.

One of the other benefits of drug and alcohol addiction rehab is the sense of community; everyone is there to work on themselves. 

What Supervised Detox Looks Like 

Medically supervised detox is vital because this will help reduce the effects of the withdrawal process, and it reduces the likelihood of relapse. This form of detox involves reducing the number of benzos given to the individual because quitting cold turkey can have adverse effects. Some forms of detox can also include prescribing the individual certain medications to help reduce the effects of withdrawal. 

These medications include: 

  • Buspirone:

     This is usually prescribed when someone suffers from anxiety and substance abuse because it does not cause dependency. This medication also helps relieve the symptoms of withdrawal. 

  • Flumazenil: 

    This is used to treat benzo overdoses, but there are also studies that show the positive effects it has against symptoms of withdrawal. 

The Process of Withdrawal 

When someone is dependent on benzos, their body will no longer produce GABA molecules, which are what provide the body with a sense of calmness and relaxation. From this, they can start experiencing extreme anxiety while trying to free their body from this drug. This is why it is tricky when participating in detox for benzos. 

Withdrawal symptoms from benzos include: 

  • Sleep disturbances 

  • Nausea and sickness 

  • Irritability 

  • Anxiety 

  • Shaking 

  • Excessive sucking 

  • Aggression and panic 

  • Hallucinations and psychosis 

  • Cravings 

  • Hand tremors 

What Happens After Treatment?

Community is key when working to be free of addiction. Nothing compares to having like-minded individuals to connect with and hold each other accountable. Here at the Edge Treatment Center, we have many different community-based options. We offer weekly group activities, an LGBTQIA+ community, and more. The Edge encourages our clients to enjoy themselves during this process with activities such as yoga, hiking, and paintballing! All of these options are available after treatment as a way to ensure everyone can continue to have a successful recovery. 

Witnessing an overdose around you can be a scary and isolating event for anyone. Knowing there is hope for both parties can be the best feeling. Addiction to benzodiazepines is very tricky and unique to each person. At The Edge Treatment Center, there is a program for every individual and a wonderful community to recover and grow within. Our goal is to provide the best care and affect real change in the people and communities we serve.

If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse, reach out to The Edge Treatment Center.

CTA background

We’re Here to Help You Find Your Way

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, there is hope. Our team can guide you on your journey to recovery. Call us today.