Amphetamines and benzodiazepines are both addictive on their own, but what happens when the two types of drugs are used at the same time? It is common for users to mix amphetamines and benzodiazepines, thinking that the two drugs cancel each other out.
To understand why this isn’t the case, this overview covers what each drug is separately and how they interact.
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Key Differences Between Benzos and Amphetamines
Amphetamines, also known as stimulants or “uppers,” refer to a type of drug known to increase wakefulness and focus. When used, uppers cause the brain to flood with dopamine and norepinephrine, which are two neurotransmitters known to produce feelings of euphoria.
Benzodiazepines, a class of depressants sometimes referred to as downers, have sedative, anti-anxiety and muscle relaxant properties. They give users a calming effect, which is the opposite of the effect felt by taking amphetamines.
Why Do People Mix Amphetamines and Benzodiazepines?
In short, people may think that mixing the two types of drugs is a way of leveling out the effects of each drug individually. If a person has too much of a stimulant in their system, they may think it makes sense to take a depressant to bring down the effects of the stimulant. Or, if they are experiencing withdrawal symptoms from a stimulant, it may seem to make sense to take a depressant to cancel out those symptoms.
However, mixing amphetamines and benzodiazepines can be a very dangerous practice.
Dangerous Amphetamines and Benzo Interactions
Combining uppers and downers can lead to taking too much of one type of drug. Because stimulants overshadow the effects of depressants, a person may not feel the depressant’s effects and think they need to take more. This can lead to overdose.
Mixing amphetamines with depressants may give users a sense of euphoria before an overdose. Taking both types of drugs at once is also potentially hard on the heart, as stimulants speed up the heart rate, while depressants work to slow it. This sends mixed messages to the heart and may result in dysrhythmias or heart failure.
If you find yourself in the cycle of taking amphetamines and benzodiazepines, seek professional medical assistance, as trying to break the cycle on your own can be dangerous due to potential withdrawals.
Other FAQs about Benzos and Amphetamines
- What are amphetamines prescribed for?
Amphetamines tend to be prescribed for ADHD, narcolepsy and depression. Often, they are abused because they give people energy, and are rumored to result in weight loss.
- What are the signs of amphetamine use?
Signs of amphetamine use include:
- More energy
- Reduced appetite
- Excessive sweating
- Increased sex drive
- Large pupils
- Dry mouth
- Increased heartbeat
- Rapid breathing
- What are the signs of benzo use?
Signs of benzodiazepine use may include:
- Lack of coordination
- Vision problems
- Is benzo withdrawal deadly?
When withdrawing from benzodiazepines, a user may experience:
- Trouble sleeping
- Feelings of depression
Stopping benzodiazepine use abruptly may lead to life-threatening situations, such as severe seizure activity. For this reason, depressants should be detoxed from safely and with the aid of a medical professional.
Joseph Nordqvist. The benefits and risks of benzodiazepines. Medical News Today. March 7, 2019. Accessed June 26, 2020.
Alcohol and Drug Foundation. Amphetamine Facts. February 26, 2020. Accessed June 26, 2020.
Starcevic, B., & Sicaja, M. (2007). Dual intoxication with diazepam and amphetamine: this drug interaction probably potentiates myocardial ischemia. Medical Hypotheses, 69(2), 377-380. Accessed June 26, 2020.
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