Statistically speaking, a sleeping pill overdose is among the most common ways used by women to attempt or to commit suicide. Sleeping pills act by slowing down the body functions, by relaxing the muscles, and chemically lulling a person to sleep. In theory, a sleeping pill overdose would pretty much shut down the entire body, including the nervous system, respiratory system, and the cardiovascular systems — all of which would eventually lead to death. A sleeping pill overdose, thanks to the tranquilizing and anesthetic qualities of those medications, can kill a person without pain or agony, which is also the reason why it is very common in suicide cases — one of which is the death of Marilyn Monroe. However, as police investigators and those who actually survived a suicide attempt can attest, a sleeping pill overdose does not always work.
The fact is, most of the sleeping pills that are potent enough to be used as a means to commit suicide are no longer being prescribed by doctors. Some relatively high dosage pills might still be available in hospitals but these are only used for anesthetic purposed during major surgery. Sleeping pills that are still sold in the market have milder formulas and are no longer as potentially lethal as the sleep-inducing medications available some years back. In other words, the current generation of pills are now chemically and purposefully designed to be safer. One of the main goals is to make sleeping pills less potent and make sleeping pill overdose lose its ?appeal? as a painless means of committing suicide. However, that doesn’t mean that there won’t be significant damage to the body or mind, as those factors are still present despite the lower risks of modern pills.
One more factor to consider would be the specifics involved in the overdose. Some people might have a tolerance for the components of the sleeping pills, thus increasing the chances of survival. Other factors including blood chemistry and the possibility of intervention during the attempted suicide can reduce the probabilities of death. In many cases, alcohol was used supposedly to speed up the effects of the pills. since a sleeping pill overdose does requires time to fully work and deliver its fatal effects.
Modern sleeping pill overdose situations can still cause considerable damage since present-day drugs almost always produces an effect on the central nervous system. Normal doses only pose very minimal risks but side-effects can still be expected after using large quantities of the drug. The most serious side effect would be the complete shutdown of the neural pathways and receptors that control some of the body’s systems. Someone who survives a sleeping pill overdose might find himself completely paralyzed, with little or no control over his bodily functions — left only to live life as a ?vegetable.?
Sleeping pill overdose is also a very significant issue in the realm of psychology. Most people would assume that a person who chooses to end life via a sleeping pill overdose has a very serious psychological problem. In most cases, physical stress or a mental illness can be associated to suicides. Mentally-ill individuals who survived their own suicide attempt using sleeping pills are in danger of suffering memory loss, which can occur due to the lack of oxygen in the brain. Other suicide survivors have exhibited paranoid delusional tendencies or were found to have psychological disorders prior to the suicide attempt.INERSIAS is completely wrong. Here are the FACTS, not my personal belief of a lethal dose. And just because a person falls asleep from taking Xanax is not the same as a dangerous or near-lethal dose. Xanax (alprazolam) is a benzodiazepine class drug indicated for the management of an anxiety disorder, for the treatment of panic disorder with or without agoraphobia, for the short-term relief of symptoms of anxiety, and for anxiety associated with depression.
The best way to figure it out is by looking at the LD50 of Xanax (alprazolam). The LD50 (median lethal dose) is a measurement of acute toxicity of a substance that shows the dose required to kill half the members of a tested population after a specified test duration.
There is not really any data on the LD50 for humans so typically we come up with an estimation by using the LD50 for an animal. In studies using rates the oral LD50 for alprazolam ranged from 331 to 2171 mg/kg. So now lets extrapolate- say we have a person (Mr. Smith) with a weight of 68 kg (150 lbs). The LD50 for Mr. Smith would be 22,508 mg to 147,628 mg of oral alprazolam. Thus conservatively 50% of people would die from taking a dose of 22,508 mg of oral alprazolam and 50% would live.
Even two year studies studying chronic toxicity at up to 30 mg/kg/day of oral alprazolam did NOT result in death. For Mr. Smith that would mean that even taking 2,040 mg oral alprazolam a day for TWO years would not be lethal. FYI the official maximum dose of Xanax is 4 mg/day except for panic disorder which has a maximum dose of 10 mg/day.
Having said that it is certainly true and important that a person who has overdosed on Xanax receive immediate medical attention due to other potential heath risks. But the vast majority of people who end up in the emergency department after taking a large amount of Xanax (be it accidental, a suicide attempt, or substance abuse) have little or no complications. Typically people sleep, they may have anterograde amnesia (which can be severe), they may have a total loss of inhibitions and do dangerous activities and potentially self harm, suicide attempt, and rarely suicide completion, they and may develop acute sleep apnoea when sleeping after taking a large dose of Xanax.
However contrary to common belief Xanax has only minimal effects on heart rare and respiration except at near lethal doses. The reason Xanax and other benzodiazepines are very popular is that they have almost completely replaced barbiturate use. Unlike benzodiazepines barbiturates are very dangerous and a lethal dose occurs at as little as 1 gram and 4 grams almost always result in death.
Unless Xanax is taken in a large dose in a person severely medically compromised OR if a person has used Xanax with other drugs (known as polypharmacy) especially opioids (morphine, oxycodone, hydromorphone), barbiturates (phenobarbital, secobarbital, butalbital, pentobarbital), Miltown (meprobamate), chloral hydrate, or alcohol then the synergistic effect of the multiple drugs is extremely dangerous. When most people die from drugs they typically have used multiple drugs. In France for example methadone addicts commonly use the benzodiazepine temazepam (brand names include Restoril, Normison, and Euhypnos) and the highest incidence of death comes from that group of addicts abusing BOTH methadone and temazepam.
If you are considering harming your self (or you know a person who is) please get help. Call a doctor, go to the emergency department (ED aka ER), or if you or another person is actively suicidal then don’t hesitate to call for an ambulance.
Xanax and other benzodiazepine are some of the safest drugs in an overdose situation but don’t think they are risk-free.