Benzodiazepine Overdoses

Versed is a brand-name, prescription medication that is classified as a benzodiazepine. The generic name is midazolam. Versed is most often given in hospital and clinical settings via intravenous or intramuscular injection. Versed can also be given orally or as a nasal spray. Versed is intended to be used before a procedure as a form of anesthesia. In less common instances, it can be used for extreme agitation, insomnia and seizure disorders. Versed is not meant to be a long-term or daily medicine, however. Benzodiazepines, in general, are short-term treatment options because they are potentially habit-forming.

Benzodiazepines cause central nervous system depression, although not typically at the profound level of other CNS depressants like opioids. Benzodiazepine overdoses are possible, and they can be fatal, but they’re rare on their own. What happens more commonly is that people will combine a benzodiazepine with another depressant and that leads to an overdose. General signs of a benzodiazepine overdose can include:

  • Confusion
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Complications of a benzodiazepine overdose can include ataxia, hallucinations, hypotonia and slurred speech.

When someone is prescribed benzodiazepines, whether it’s something commonly used like Xanax or less commonly like Versed, there are steps to reduce the risk of an overdose. First, patients should let their physician know about any other substances they take. This includes alcohol, other prescription and non-prescription medications, vitamins and supplements. Patients should also take Versed and other benzos only as prescribed and never recreationally or to feel high or relaxed.

Versed Overdose

While it’s rare for a single-drug benzodiazepine overdose to occur, this isn’t necessarily always the case with Versed. First, Versed is a very fast-acting benzo. An individual can develop a tolerance to Versed quickly. A tolerance can raise the chances of an overdose occurring since one will need larger doses to get the same effects. It’s possible to develop a Versed tolerance after using it only a few days. Also, Versed can be injected intravenously or used as a nasal spray. These forms of administration can increase the likelihood of a Versed overdose. The risk of a Versed overdose is even higher in people who are older, or in people who have obstructive pulmonary disease. Signs of a Versed overdose can include:

  • Respiratory arrest
  • Ataxia
  • Slurred speech
  • Problems staying awake
  • Confusion
  • Hypotension
  • Impaired reflexes
  • Impaired coordination and balance
  • Dizziness
  • Coma or death

While it is possible to die from a Versed overdose, it’s not very common if that is the only drug involved. If Versed is combined with other substances, the risk of overdose goes up significantly. Around 30% of overdose cases in the U.S. are estimated to involve a benzodiazepine and then another substance, such as opioids. Opioids, alcohol, certain sleep aids, antipsychotics, antidepressants, antiepileptic drugs and antihistamines can all have negative interactions when taken with Versed. These interactions can cause overdoses, and they can be fatal. Even consuming grapefruit juice can be problematic with Versed. Grapefruit juice can reduce the metabolism of Versed and cause higher concentrations in the blood.

Any time there are symptoms of a Versed overdose, it’s a medical emergency. With proper medical care, a benzodiazepine overdose can be treatable. That becomes more difficult if the Versed was used with other CNS depressants, but certain antidotes are available. There are opioid antidotes and a benzodiazepine antidote called flumazenil, although its use is controversial. Regardless of the situation, immediate medical attention is required to prevent coma, brain damage and death.

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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.