Benzodiazepines are sedative drugs that are commonly used to treat anxiety, panic attacks, sleep disorders, depression, epilepsy, and other mental health conditions. Benzodiazepines produce feelings of calmness and euphoria, but their use can also cause vivid or disturbing dreams, amnesia, hostility, and irritability.
Benzodiazepine abuse has reached epidemic levels and most commonly occurs in conjunction with other drugs. Opioid painkillers and benzodiazepines are two of the most frequently abused prescription drugs in the world, although they are frequently prescribed together. Medical researchers have been concerned about this combination since the 1970s, when the trend began to surface. A report from the Drug Abuse Warning Network shows that combining opioid medications and benzodiazepines increases the risk of overdose leading to emergency medical care. Another report published in the British Medical Journal suggests that, while some of these emergency room visits involve prescribing practices that accidentally mix benzodiazepines and opioids in dangerous quantities, some patients take more of these drugs than prescribed, or they get a “high” off taking higher doses than prescribed of both medications. They noted that benzodiazepines enhanced the effects of opioid painkillers, which means this drug combination has a high potential for abuse.
An overdose occurs when excessive amounts of benzodiazepines are taken, and it may be intentional (such as in suicidal patients) or accidental. Most overdoses occur when benzodiazepines are combined with other central nervous system depressant drugs, such as alcohol and opioids.
An overdose of benzodiazepine drugs is usually not fatal, and but a combination of drugs and benzodiazepine are; overdose deaths are caused by respiratory depression resulting from mixed overdoses with other drugs that have sedating properties.