What should I know before taking benzodiazepines?

Dr. Darria Long Gillespie, MD
Emergency Medicine
If you have thoughts of suicide, a benzodiazepine may not be a good option for you.

If you take a benzodiazepine, you should be cautious about drinking alcohol. You should avoid kava kava and grapefruit juice.

Because of their potential for abuse, benzodiazepine sedatives may not be a good option for people who have had a substance use problem.

Older adults can have more severe side effects from benzodiazepines. The effects of these drugs may last much longer in older adults. Lowest possible doses and shorter-acting benzodiazepines, such as triazolam, should be used.

Some benzodiazepines may not be safe or effective for children and teens. Check individual drug labels.

If you have asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a depressive disorder, angle-closure glaucoma, chronic pulmonary insufficiency, or sleep apnea, a benzodiazepine may not be a good option for you.

If you are pregnant, may be pregnant, or are planning to become pregnant, the health of your baby may be at risk if you take a benzodiazepine.

You should not take a benzodiazepine if you are breastfeeding. 

This answer was adapted from Sharecare's award-winning AskMD app. Start a consultation now to find out what's causing your symptoms, learn how to manage a condition, or find a doctor. 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.