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Dangers of Shooting Up Benzodiazepines

December 6, 2020 , Agape Treatment Center

Dangers of Shooting Up Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines, commonly referred to as benzos, are a type of prescription medication in the sedative-anxiolytic family. As the name suggests, benzos treat anxiety, panic disorders, and insomnia. They’re highly effective medications but can produce physical and psychological dependence when taken for too long or in too high a dosage. [1][2]

Benzos are classed by their speed of action and potency. Some benzos take effect rapidly and leave the body quickly. Others take longer to work but stay in a person’s system for longer. They’re available as capsules, tablets, syrups, and specially-prepared solutions for IV injections. IV benzodiazepine injections are only given by medical professionals at healthcare facilities.

Benzodiazepines are considered effective and safe when given over the short-term—a month or less. Long-term treatment with benzos is often a major contributor to benzo abuse and addiction. [3]

As of 2017, the most commonly prescribed benzodiazepines include:

  • Xanax (alprazolam)
  • Ativan (lorazepam)
  • Klonopin (clonazepam)
  • Valium (diazepam) 
  • Restoril (temazepam) 
  • Halcion (triazolam)
  • Librium (chlordiazepoxide)
  • Serax (oxazepam)

Even when taken exactly as prescribed, these medications are still addictive. Individuals who become addicted to benzos may take them orally, crush and inhale the powder, or boil the pills into a liquid and inject it into a vein. 

What Happens When You Inject Benzodiazepines?

People inject benzos for the intense euphoria that results from the drug hitting the system all at once. It allows a large dose of the benzodiazepine to flood the brain instantaneously, which is dangerous and can easily result in an overdose. Using benzodiazepines intravenously can result in a wide range of serious side effects, including:

  • Benzodiazepine overdose
  • Death from benzodiazepine overdose
  • Rapid onset of benzodiazepine dependence and addiction
  • Bacterial infections and abscesses at the injection site
  • Permanent damage to the veins/scarring
  • Transmission of bloodborne diseases (HIV & hepatitis) from sharing needles
  • Stroke
  • Collapsed veins
  • Endocarditis (inflammation of the heart lining)
  • Thrombosis (blood clots that form in the veins, causing dangerous blockages)
  • Chronic venous insufficiency (obstructed blood flow from the heart to the legs)

The Dangers of Shooting Up Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines work by enhancing the effects of a chemical called GABA, which acts as a brake in the central nervous system, including the brain. GABA slows down the rate at which brain cells work, causing over-reactive nerves to relax. This also causes a person’s heart rate and respiration to slow down. 

When taken as they are prescribed, benzos can stop a panic attack in its tracks and restore a person’s sense of calmness, help people get to sleep, and as potent sedatives.

Benzodiazepine overdoses cause the nervous system to slow down too much, reducing vital functions to the point where they stop. Shooting up benzos floods the brain with inhibitory chemicals that essentially shut down the areas that control breathing and heart rate. 

Symptoms of a Benzodiazepine Overdose

An overdose on benzodiazepines is most likely when a person has combined benzos with other drugs, particularly opioids or alcohol. Mixing these drugs with benzos can cause an overdose with relatively small doses of benzos.

Confusion Agitation
Rebound Anxiety Shallow or labored breathing
Drowsiness Dizziness
Intoxication Slurred speech
Amnesia Hallucinations
Poor muscle tone Clumsiness, poor coordination
Lowered heart rate Lowered blood pressure
Coma Death

AGAPE TREATMENT CENTER AND BENZODIAZEPINE ADDICTION RECOVERY

Overcoming benzodiazepine addiction is no small feat, but it’s possible. When it comes to benzo addiction recovery, medically monitored detox is a necessary first step. This is because associated withdrawal symptoms are severe, and they can prove to be life-threatening when left untreated. 

The psychological cravings that tend to go hand-in-hand with post-acute benzo withdrawal can also be severe and can hinder progress in recovery when not addressed and treated accordingly. This is especially true when the individual was abusing a prescription sedative intravenously.

At Agape Treatment Center, we believe in treating benzo addiction at its root by addressing all underlying causes and contributing factors that created and sustained the addiction. We utilize a fact-based combination of proven medical and clinical treatments to help clients build the foundation they need to maintain sobriety long-term. 

For more information on our integrated drug treatment program, reach out to us today on the web or call us. We’re waiting 24 hours a day every day to help you get your life back.

References

  1. https://www.sahealth.sa.gov.au/
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15762817/
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25613443/
  4. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/262809