Versed (midazolam) is a prescription benzodiazepine. Benzodiazepines are drugs that affect GABA. GABA is a brain neurotransmitter, responsible for calming down overactivity and reducing anxiety. When someone uses a benzodiazepine like Versed, it makes GABA more effective. This has a calming, anti-anxiety and tranquilizing effect on the person using it. Versed is most often used in medical and clinical settings before people have a procedure, or for end of life care. In some cases, it can be used to treat severe agitation or insomnia. As a benzodiazepine, Versed is a central nervous system depressant.
Many of the side effects of Versed are related to the fact that it’s a depressant. For example, people may feel drowsy or fatigued, or appear intoxicated. Versed can also have pretty significant effects on short-term memory. Long-term use of benzodiazepines can contribute to more severe memory and cognitive impairments. With Versed there is also the risk of something called paradoxical reactions. This refers to a scenario where someone experiences the opposite effects that are typical of the drug. For example, a person may feel overly excited and aggressive, or they may display violent behavior.
Versed and other benzodiazepines also cause respiratory depression. When a CNS depressant is taken, it slows breathing and heart rate. Respiratory depression can be fatal, which is why it’s important to follow prescribing instructions carefully. Understanding how long Versed stays in your system is important in terms of overdose potential as well. Certain substances combined with Versed, such as opioids, can increase the chance of a fatal overdose. It’s important for people to ensure they don’t combine these substances, even inadvertently.
With benzodiazepines, there are short-, intermediate- and long-acting variations. A short-acting benzodiazepine tends to start working quickly, and it’s eliminated from the system quickly. This increases the chance of unhealthy use and addiction, as is the case with all fast-acting drugs. Intermediate and longer-acting benzodiazepines take longer to start working and also to leave the system. This can mean it takes longer for withdrawal symptoms to start, and these longer-acting benzos can accumulate in the system.
Midazolam is the active ingredient in the brand-name Versed. Midazolam is characterized as a short-acting benzodiazepine. The half-life, which is how long it takes for half the drug to leave the system, is 1.5 to 2.5 hours. This is actually very short compared to many other benzodiazepines. Midazolam can be given by mouth but also intravenously, or through a nasal or cheek spray. These factors also impact how quickly it starts working. For many people, midazolam can work within five minutes if it’s injected intravenously. Effects last from one to six hours. Midazolam has an amnesia effect, which lasts anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour.
Most of a dose of midazolam is eliminated via urine, although some are eliminated via feces as well. For most adults, an entire dose of midazolam is eliminated within a day. For children and geriatric patients, it can take a little longer than this. While midazolam leaves the system quickly, residual effects can continue for a day or two. For example, people might feel drowsy, weak or uncoordinated. People shouldn’t take any other central nervous system depressants for at least 24 hours after being given Versed. CNS depressants include alcohol, opioids and sleep aids. The detection window of Versed in drug tests is short. Versed has a urine detection window of one-half day to 2 days.
If you’re struggling with unhealthy use or addiction, please reach out to our team at The Recovery Village. We specialize in helping patients overcome addiction and lead, healthy fulfilling lives.
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