People may think amphetamines and benzodiazepines cancel each other out but mixing them can be extremely dangerous and potentially lead to an overdose.

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.

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.

Related Topic: Adderall 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.

More Information on 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?
  • More energy
  • Reduced appetite
  • Excessive sweating
  • Increased sex drive
  • Large pupils
  • Dry mouth
  • Increased heartbeat
  • Rapid breathing
What are the signs of benzo use?
  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Trembling
  • Lack of coordination
  • Vision problems
  • Depression
  • Headaches
Is benzo withdrawal deadly?

When withdrawing from benzodiazepines, a user may experience:

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Feelings of depression
  • Sweating

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.

Rob Alston
Editor – Rob Alston
Rob Alston has traveled around Australia, Japan, Europe, and America as a writer and editor for industries including personal wellness and recovery. Read more
Kevin Wandler
Medically Reviewed By – Dr. Kevin Wandler, MD
Kevin Wandler holds multiple positions at Advanced Recovery Systems. In addition to being the founding and chief medical director at Advanced Recovery Systems, he is also the medical director at The Recovery Village Ridgefield and at The Recovery Village Palmer Lake. Read more
Sources

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.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.