The Dangers of Mixing Methadone and Benzodiazepines
Legal medications like methadone often serve as a replacement for other opioids in drug treatment programs. Generally, doctors won’t prescribe benzodiazepines and methadone together because it can be a dangerous combination.
Both medications inhibit the part of the brain that tells your lungs to keep breathing. It’s common for people who mix methadone and benzodiazepines to fall asleep and never wake up.
The Dangers of Mixing Methadone with Benzodiazepines
While physicians are well aware of the perils of mixing opioids and benzodiazepines, those who abuse drugs may not realize the danger.
The interaction between methadone and benzos may cause the following symptoms:
- lethargic body response
- abnormally shallow breathing
- low blood pressure
- respiratory arrest
- cardiac arrest
- possible death
These symptoms may be more or less severe, depending on the amount of each drug someone consumes. Taking large doses of both methadone and benzos can increase the likelihood of a negative reaction.
Because these medications produce similar effects, they intensify each other and cause the “high” sensation that someone misusing them can easily get hooked on.
Methadone and Benzodiazepines Typical Uses
Opioids and benzodiazepines are two of the most commonly abused drugs in the world. It’s easy to mistakenly–or knowingly–combine the two.
Methadone is an opioid medication used as a pain reliever and is sometimes prescribed by doctors to reduce withdrawal symptoms in those addicted to opioids. As with all legal narcotics, it’s possible to become addicted to methadone even at normal doses.
Benzodiazepines are commonly prescribed to treat anxiety issues and may be used as a muscle relaxant when treating other withdrawal symptoms. Examples of benzodiazepines include:
- clonazepam (Klonopin)
- alprazolam (Xanax)
- chlordiazepoxide (Librium)
- diazepam (Valium)
- lorazepam (Ativan)
- temazepam (Restoril)
- triazolam (Halcion)
Because benzos are used to treat anxiety, they help individuals relax and decrease the activity in the nervous system (brain and spinal cord). This causes a calming effect that slows down thoughts in the brain and relaxes muscles in the body.
When someone combines this with opioids, which are designed to treat pain by slowing down the central nervous system, they run the risk of shutting it down completely.
Once someone’s nervous system shuts down, they may look like they are sleeping or in a coma. If their breathing decreases to dangerous levels, it can also result in death.
Methadone: A Poor Replacement for Opioid Addiction Recovery
Opioid withdrawal symptoms can be severe, and methadone is an opioid many detox programs use to reduce discomfort in recovering addicts. Although methadone is designed to be less dangerous than other opioids, it’s still very addictive.
Methadone is chemically designed to be less potent than other opioids. Methadone, given in a clinical setting, at set doses, can help relieve severe opioid withdrawal symptoms by essentially allowing the individual to ween off their substance of abuse with a substitute opioid.
Replacing one drug with another is not a good solution even if the replacement drug is FDA approved. It doesn’t stop the addiction cycle and creates a substitute that can be equally difficult to recover from as the one it’s meant to replace.
When someone uses methadone for a prolonged period, they have the potential to become addicted. Once this occurs, higher and higher doses are needed to achieve the desired effect.
Natural Detox and Recovery for Opioid and Benzodiazepine Addiction
At Elevate, we offer you a healthy, long-term solution to addiction. Helping you get off illegal opioids like heroin and legal opioids such as methadone–permanently–is our goal.
It is possible to recover from opioids naturally. While you may be on medication temporarily when you begin a detox, the entire focus of our treatment is to get you drug-free for life.
Our highly-customized programs focus on restoring your health so that you can move into a brighter future completely drug-free. We work to empower our clients to make positive choices that build confidence, self-respect, and self-esteem. We know that you can become empowered to the point that you won’t need drugs to feel healthy and happy.
We use alternative drug-free therapies. They go a long way to helping you stay comfortable through your detox process as you transition off drugs. It’s essential also to include exercise and proper nutrition, which are slowly incorporated during your first month.
You are not alone on this journey! We’re here to help. If you or a loved one struggles with an addiction to benzodiazepine, heroin, or opioids, it’s time to learn more about how our holistic treatment program can bring you out of addiction and into a life of wholeness and freedom.
Dr. Anok Krishna M.D.
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This page does not provide medical advice
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