Do Benzodiazepines Potentiate Opiates?

Benzodiazepines or simply benzos are a class of drugs used for treating psychological disorders, chiefly anxiety. Medical scientists believe the excess activity of nerves is the reason for anxiety and many other mental health issues. During signal transmission, surrounding nerves communicate with each other through the release of certain chemicals called neurotransmitters. However, a specific neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) suppresses nerve activity. Therefore, benzodiazepines soothe anxiety and other psychological conditions by enhancing the effects of GABA in the central nervous system.

Aside from anxiety, psychological disorders like insomnia, panic attacks, and chemical dependence are also treated using benzos. Several brands of benzos exist in the pharmacy, such as Diazepam (Valium) and Alprazolam (Xanax). It is advised that benzos be taken according to the prescribed dosage and recommendation of a physician to avoid possible side effects that may manifest, as benzos could induce dependence.

Opiates, on the other hand, are the substances produced from the opium poppy plant. They are called analgesics because nearly all of them bring relief from pain as a primary function. They include prescription drugs like codeine and tramadol and illegal ones like heroin. Opioids are highly addictive with the potential for chemical dependence.

Do Benzos Potentiate Opiates?

What are the Results of Taking Benzos and Opiates Together?

It is quite common for individuals to combine Valium or Xanax with opioids, particularly the over-the-counter pain relievers. Sometimes, they combine these drugs as benzos enhance the painkilling effect of opiates. Other times, they do so to boost the euphoria or sedative feelings elicited by these drugs. However, this combination comes with many harmful consequences. Some prominent effects of using benzos with opiates are respiration problems and impairment of cognitive functions. Both drugs alter breathing patterns, especially by depressing breathing. Consequently, insufficient oxygen is supplied to the brain, which may induce brain damage and the shutting down of vital organ systems.

Addiction to Benzodiazepines and Opioids

Overdose is yet another hazard with combining both opiates and benzos. Research has revealed that benzos obscure the dosage of opioids taken by an individual. This increases the chance of overdose by at least ten times. Because each drug supplements the actions of the other, determining the exact dosage becomes confusing. Thus, it common for individuals who use both drugs to be admitted for opioid overdose. There is also the issue of over-sedation in concurrently taking opiates and benzos. Over-sedation is the incapacity to respond to stimuli. This is particularly dangerous as individuals lose motor skills at this point. In severe cases of mixing both drugs, an individual may even slip into a coma.

Find Help if You Combine Benzos and Opiates

Immediate help is required if an individual uses both benzos and opiates. In the event of an overdose, specific medications that offset the high dosage must be administered. Also, dependence on either benzos, opiates, or both is a severe condition that must be handled delicately. At NJ Addiction Resources, we engage every necessary measure to help individuals and their loved ones break free from dependence. Through personalized and comprehensive recovery programs, you can reclaim your life again and have a sober future. Do contact any of our recovery advocates today for inquiries.

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