Benzodiazepines improve the impact of the neurotransmitter GABA, which functions primarily to relax the functioning of the Central Nervous System (CNS) and so create a sleepy or soothing effect useful to people suffering from anxiety or similar diseases. Its main effects include therapeutic benefits, drowsiness, anti-convulsion, muscular relaxation, and so forth. Benzodiazepines are beneficial in treating anxiety, insomnia, agitation, muscular spasms, alcohol withdrawal, and as a premedication for medical or dental procedures because of these qualities.
Leo Sternbach was an Austrian chemist who worked at Hoffmann-La Roche in Nutley, New Jersey, and was recognized for his contributions to the development of various pharmaceuticals, including benzodiazepines.
Sedation is a significant symptom of a benzo overdose. A benzo overdose victim may be difficult to rouse or awaken. They may also have difficulty standing or falling. Although some people experience mental disorientation and slurred speech, vital signs are usually normal.
A person suffering from a benzo overdose may display signs and symptoms contrary to the intended impact of the medication, such as excitation, agitation, and talkativeness. This is known as a “paradoxical” response, and it happens in less than 1% of individuals.
Ataxia, which is marked by a lack of balance and unsteady or uncoordinated movements, is the predominant sign of overdose in children. The children may even seem inebriated.
Other signs and symptoms of a benzodiazepine overdose include:
- Slow or shallow breathing
- Clammy skin
- Low blood pressure
- Enlarged pupils
- Sluggish or depressed reflexes
- A weak or rapid pulse
- Bluish lips
Combining Benzos, Alcohol, and Opioids
When used alone, benzodiazepines are rarely associated with poor consequences; nevertheless, when combined with other agents such as alcohol, opiates, or other sedatives, there is a risk of morbidity and even death. All benzodiazepines can induce apnea, but alprazolam poses the greatest risk.
The combination of benzos and alcohol significantly raises the risk of overdose. When benzos are used with opioid medications, cough medications, and other central nervous system depressants, they can cause extreme sleepiness, breathing difficulties, and death.
The danger of mortality is reduced because flumazenil is available. These medicines are effective sedatives, but they carry the danger of addiction and tolerance.
Treatment of benzodiazepine overdose
Supportive therapy, which may involve endotracheal intubation to enable final airway control, is the predominant treatment for acute benzodiazepine intoxication. Benzodiazepine toxicity is not treated with single-dose or multi-dose activated charcoal, hemodialysis, or whole-bowel irrigation.
While supportive care is the primary treatment for acute benzodiazepine toxicity or overdose, there is an “antidote” that may be used in certain circumstances. Flumazenil can be safely supplied to non-habitual benzodiazepine users.
Antidotes for benzodiazepine poisoning are primarily used to reverse conscious and general sedation. The antidote binds to the benzodiazepine receptor in the central nervous system, reversing the negative effects of benzodiazepines. Because benzodiazepine toxicity antidotes have a similar structure to benzodiazepines, they compete with benzodiazepines for receptor binding. They aid in the reversal of the sedative effect of benzodiazepines, allowing an unconscious individual to restore consciousness or preventing the return of unconsciousness or coma.