Antidote For Benzodiazepine Overdose

Medically Reviewed by Johnelle Smith, M.D. on December 29, 2021

Flumazenil is a medication used by medical professionals when a person is experiencing a benzodiazepine overdose. However, this medication can be dangerous.

How To Reverse The Effects Of Benzodiazepines

In 1991, it was discovered that flumazenil was an antagonist of the effects that benzodiazepines have on the central nervous system (CNS).

This means it will reverse the effects of an overdose.

Flumazenil (brand name Romazicon) can reverse the sedation (coma) associated with benzo overdose.

Read more about the dangers of benzodiazepine overdose

How Flumazenil Works To Reverse Benzodiazepine Overdose

The common symptoms of a benzo overdose include unconsciousness and respiratory depression.

While flumazenil will reverse these symptoms, they will only be reversed for a short amount of time.

Some benzo overdoses can last several days, requiring repeated dosing of Romazicon.

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Using The Benzodiazepine Antidote Can Be Dangerous

Flumazenil should never be used when the person has additional drugs besides benzodiazepines or if the person is in withdrawal from benzodiazepines.

There is a significant risk of seizure when flumazenil is administered under those circumstances.

Additionally, the following risks are possible with flumazenil use:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • convulsions
  • tachycardia (increased heart rate)
  • arrhythmias (irregular heart rate)

When a person takes benzos daily, administering flumazenil during an overdose can cause immediate withdrawal symptoms, and the person may experience severe seizures.

Solo Benzodiazepine Overdose Is Rare

Most often, when a person experiences an overdose with benzodiazepines, there are other substances involved, such as alcohol, opioids, or some other narcotic.

Administering flumazenil is not suggested in those circumstances, and therefore is not a good choice for someone in need of a benzodiazepine overdose reversal.

Treatment Options For Benzodiazepine Addiction

Benzodiazepine addiction treatment includes monitoring withdrawal symptoms and a substance abuse treatment program to address the nature of addiction.

A detox program is strongly suggested followed by an inpatient treatment program.

Contact our specialized, trained staff to learn about options for benzodiazepine addiction and how to get help for you or your loved one soon.

This page does not provide medical advice. See more

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Medically Reviewed by
Johnelle Smith, M.D. on December 29, 2021
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