What is benzodiazepine overdose?

Benzodiazepine Overdose
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Poisoning (benzodiazepine): Overview

You have had treatment to help your body get rid of a large amount of a benzodiazepine medicine. You are recovering, but you may not feel well for a while. This is because it takes time for the medicine to leave your body.

Doctors prescribe benzodiazepine medicines to treat anxiety, muscle spasms, sleep disorders, and seizures. You may know them by their generic and brand names. These include alprazolam (Xanax), diazepam (Valium), and lorazepam (Ativan).

While you were with the doctor, the doctor may have:

  • Found out what kind of medicine you took. The doctor may have tested your urine and blood to identify the medicine. You may have had other tests too.
  • Given you an antidote for benzodiazepine through a tube in your vein, called an I.V. This prevents or undoes some of the effects of the medicine.
  • Helped you breathe by giving you oxygen. This is given through a mask or nasal cannula (say "KAN-yuh-luh"). A cannula is a thin tube with two openings that fit just inside your nose. Or your doctor may have put an oxygen tube down your throat.
  • Given you activated charcoal by mouth. This is to help remove the benzodiazepine from your digestive system. This may give you diarrhea. And it may turn your stool black for a few days.
  • Given you fluids.

The doctor also watched you closely to make sure you were recovering safely.

How can you care for yourself after benzodiazepine poisoning?

  • Get plenty of rest. The medicine that made you sick may take a long time to get out of your body completely.
  • If you had a tube in your throat to help you breathe, you may have a sore throat or feel hoarse for a few days. Drink plenty of fluids. Fluids may help soothe your throat. Hot fluids, such as tea or soup, may help ease throat pain.
  • Benzodiazepines can be addictive. If you think you have an addiction problem, contact your doctor.
  • If you are going to keep taking benzodiazepine medicine, make sure you take it exactly as directed by your doctor.
  • If you took too much medicine on purpose, or if you feel like you want to do it again, talk with your doctor or a counselor.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol. Alcohol increases the effect of these medicines. This can make you very ill.

Poisoning (benzodiazepine): When to call

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You have a seizure.
  • You are thinking about killing yourself or hurting others.

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have serious withdrawal symptoms such as confusion, hallucinations, or severe trembling.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You do not get better as expected.
  • You have been feeling sad, depressed, or hopeless or have lost interest in things that you usually enjoy.
  • You think you may have a problem with benzodiazepines or another substance.

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The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.

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