Benzo dope is a street drug made from a mixture of opioids and benzodiazepines. The combination of these substances makes it a dangerous drug with higher risk for overdose than either of the two taken separately. Over the last few years, countries such as Canada and Scotland have seen the devastating effects of the drug with extreme increases in deaths from benzo dope overdoses.
Now we are seeing a rise in benzo dope in the USA. If the trend follows that in Canada, we will see many more deaths from overdoses in the coming years. We will talk about what benzo dope is, the dangers of it, and why it is on the rise. If you or a loved one is using benzo dope, contacting a treatment center about benzodiazepine addiction treatment could save your life.
What is Benzo Dope?
Benzo dope is a synthetic drug made from a mix of opioids and benzodiazepines. Typically the opioid used is fentanyl. The benzodiazepine can be one of many but is commonly etizolam, a particularly potent benzodiazepine.
Fentanyl acts by depressing the central nervous system causing euphoric and sedative effects. There is a considerable risk for developing psychological and physical dependency due to this euphoria. This makes it very hard to quit as your body and brain think you need the drug to function normally, causing you to experience withdrawal symptoms once you stop taking it. Fentanyl is one hundred times more potent than morphine and about fifty times more potent than heroin. This means that only a small amount of the drug is needed for you to overdose; as little as 2mg can be fatal. More fatal overdoses are caused by fentanyl than any other drug.
Benzodiazepines also depress the central nervous system. They act by increasing gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) activity in the brain which reduces neuronal excitation. This causes a calming and sedative effect. While they can be used relatively safely for the treatment of anxiety disorders, when used frequently and in higher doses than prescribed, benzodiazepines can quickly lead to dependence. As with fentanyl, this makes it difficult to quit.
Dangers of Benzo Dope
Benzo dope has started a drug death epidemic across the US and Canada. It is used because of the extended effects that it has. While the statistics from the US are not as well mapped due to it being a newer drug to this country, in Canada there has been a significant increase in fentanyl cut with benzodiazepines. In 2019, there was no fentanyl cut with benzodiazepines. This increased to five percent by 2020, and sixteen percent in 2021. If trends in the US follow those of Canada, we can expect to see a worrying increase in overdoses by benzo dope.
The mix of opioids and benzodiazepines is very dangerous as both of them cause depression of the central nervous system. This increases the risk of overdose and can lead to loss of consciousness, respiratory depression, and amnesia. While a fentanyl overdose lasts between ten and twenty minutes, a benzodiazepine overdose can last hours, even six to eight hours in complex cases.
When you have an opioid overdose, you can reverse the effects of the drug by administering naloxone, which acts rapidly so that respiration is resumed. However, naloxone is not effective against benzodiazepines. If someone overdosing on benzo dope is administered naloxone, they may start to experience opioid withdrawal symptoms while still suffering from the effects of the benzodiazepine overdose. It is also possible that the withdrawal symptoms from both drugs can be worse when the two are mixed.
Benzo dope is also dangerous due to the delayed onset of effects. Benzodiazepines such as diazepam take forty minutes to kick in, while it can take up to three hours for the effects of benzo dope to be felt. It is likely that at this time, you take some other drugs or have something to drink while you wait. The more you mix different drugs and alcohol, the higher the risk or interactions which could be dangerous or even fatal.
Because benzo dope is an unregulated substance, it is impossible to know how much benzodiazepines are in the drug. This means that it is difficult to know how much you can take before you overdose. As with any unregulated substance, there is always the chance that what you buy is cut with additional substance that can be dangerous.
Finally, people who take opioids are generally safe on their own if they are rousable. However, when someone has taken benzodiazepines as well as opioids, this is not the case. They may be so sedated that they pass out on the street or walk into traffic.
Why is There a Rise in Benzo Dope in the US?
So why is there such an increase in this drug when it is clearly dangerous and which many drug users have said that they do not enjoy? There are a couple of reasons why dealers might want to continue producing this substance. Benzodiazepines can mimic and even enhance the effects of opioids, meaning that less opioid is needed to experience the same or a more intense high. Opioids are more expensive to produce, so dealers can sell less opioids for the same street value if they mix them with benzodiazepines. Another reason is that benzodiazepines are less strictly monitored than opioids, making them easier to manufacture.
If you are using benzo dope or think that you are being sold benzo dope instead of opioids, you could be at risk. One way to reduce harm is to get your drugs tested. In this way you can understand if your drugs contain fentanyl and benzodiazepines.
You can also contact a treatment center for support. They will provide you with more information about benzo dope and the effects that it has. They can offer you support if you are struggling with your use of the drug. Withdrawal from benzo dope is unpleasant and can even be fatal. At a treatment center, you will be given the highest quality support so that you are as comfortable as possible during withdrawal.