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Dangers of Mixing Methadone and Benzodiazepines

Dangers of Mixing Methadone and Benzodiazepines

Legal, prescription medications like methadone often serve as a replacement for other opioids in opioid addiction treatment programs. However, doctors generally won’t prescribe methadone and benzodiazepines together due to their dangers. Both medications work similarly in the central nervous system (CNS) to produce sedation and relaxation, inhibiting important functions like thinking, breathing, and heart rate. Today we’re going to take a look at this combination and its dangers.  

Is Methadone a Benzo? 

Methadone is not a benzo but rather a synthetic analgesic drug (opioid) that produces similar side effects to the opioid morphine but is longer-lasting. It’s normally used as a substitute for opioids in medically assisted detox to help patients cope with painful withdrawal symptoms.   

When used for opioid treatment, methadone blocks the high from drugs like codeine, heroin, hydrocodone, morphine, and oxycodone. It can even provide a similar feeling as these drugs to prevent opiate withdrawal symptoms and cravings.   

However, methadone is not a replacement for professional substance abuse treatment. As a narcotic, methadone can also be prescribed specifically to treat moderate to severe pain.  

As with other opioids, methadone works to treat pain by changing the way the CNS responds to it or receives pain signals. The opioid attaches to opioid receptors in the CNS and other areas of the body, blocking pain signals and providing relief for the individual.  

At the same time, methadone also stimulates the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that’s linked to euphoria, pleasure, and motivation. For this reason, it can also be abused, just as heroin and prescription opioids can also be misused.  

 Side effects of methadone may include: 

  • Dark stool 
  • Bleeding gums 
  • Blurred vision 
  • Chest pain or discomfort 
  • Darkening of the skin 
  • Confusion  
  • Cough  
  • Headache 
  • Hives 
  • Itching and skin rash 
  • Increased sweating and thirst 
  • Irregular heartbeat  
  • Loss of appetite  
  • Muscle pain or cramps 
  • Seizures 
  • Trouble breathing 
  • & More 

Dopamine plays a major role in the pain-relieving effects of methadone, but also its addictive nature. Due to their impact on dopamine, opioids are recognized for their high potential for abuse and addiction.   

It’s important to take prescription drugs as directed by the prescribing physician. Taking medication without a prescription can lead to various adverse problems, including addiction, among other ailments.  

Can You Take Methadone and Benzos Together? 

No, you cannot take methadone and benzos together. However, opioids and benzodiazepines are two of the most commonly abused drugs in the world, so it’s no surprise that many people will take drugs like benzodiazepines and methadone together to increase their side effects.  

While methadone is prescribed as an aid for opioid withdrawal or as a form of pain treatment, benzodiazepines are depressants that are used to treat anxiety and narcolepsy. Common benzos include Xanax, Klonopin, and Valium.  

They’re used to treat anxiety, benzos are similar to opioids in that they produce sedation, drowsiness, and relaxation by depressing the CNS. This is the main reason why you should not take methadone and benzodiazepines together.  

Both types of drugs can lead to severe central nervous system depression, which can make breathing difficult. When someone takes benzos and methadone, they run the risk of shutting down their CNS completely.  

Side Effects of Mixing Methadone and Benzos 

As we mentioned, methadone and benzodiazepines can both have depressing effects on the central nervous system. These symptoms may be more or less severe depending on the amount of each drug that’s taken.  

Common side effects of methadone and benzodiazepines include:  

  • Drowsiness 
  • Sedation 
  • Lethargy 
  • Abnormally shallow breathing 
  • Low blood pressure 
  • Respiratory arrest 
  • Cardiac arrest 
  • Coma 
  • Confusion  
  • Trembling or shaking 
  • Headaches 
  • Dizziness 

Taking large doses of both methadone and benzos can increase the risk not only of a negative reaction or a high but also of intoxication and overdose. A methadone and benzodiazepine overdose can be fatal because of the respiratory depression this combination can cause.  

Respiratory depression is marked by shallow and ineffective breathing, preventing the individual from getting enough oxygen to their brain and organs. This can result in brain damage or death if the individual does not receive medical treatment in time.  

Help for Prescription Drug Abuse   

While medication-assisted treatment is effective for certain individuals, it should only be done under the supervision and care of medical professionals. Furthermore, for those who struggle with opioid and/or benzo abuse, our Texas recovery center can help.  

Our facility offers opioid and benzo detox as well as prescription drug addiction treatment that helps clients regain their physical and mental sobriety with 24/7 support. Our specialists also utilize psychotherapy programs like Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) to help clients change their behaviors and adopt healthy and effective coping mechanisms for sobriety.  


For more information about our Texas drug and alcohol treatment, call Banyan Treatment Centers today at 888-280-4763. 


Related Reading:   

How to Overcome Opiate Withdrawal 

Acute Propofol and Benzodiazepine Intoxication: Is This What Killed Michael Jackson? 

Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.