Does this test have other names?
Toxic urine screen, urine toxicology screen
What is this test?
This is a urine test to screen for a class of medicines called benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepines
are central nervous system depressants. They are used to sedate patients, help them
sleep, prevent seizures, ease anxiety, and relax muscle spasms. These medicines are
often informally called tranquilizers, sleeping pills, and muscle relaxants.
Variations in the molecules of different benzodiazepines give each medicine specific
chemical properties and medical uses.
Examples of common antianxiety medicines, muscle relaxants, and antiseizure medicines
Examples of common sedative-hypnotic medicines include:
In addition to medical use, benzodiazepines are sometimes used illegally. Chronic
abuse of benzodiazepines can lead to addiction, and combining these medicines with
other depressants like alcohol can be fatal. Street names for these medicines include
"downers," "benzos," "nerve pills," "candy," and "tranks."
Why do I need this test?
Even if you have been prescribed these medicines, you may need this test if you are
showing signs of an overdose. Symptoms of overdose include confusion, slurred speech,
loss of muscular coordination, stupor, and unconsciousness. Benzodiazepines can also
cause low blood pressure, slow or shallow breathing, and cardiac arrest.
You may also have this test if a healthcare provider suspects you are abusing these
medicines or using them illegally.
If you appear confused, cannot be roused, have seizures, or lose muscle control, you
may also have this test as part of an overall urine toxicology screen to check for
other commonly abused drugs. These screens vary at different hospitals, but often
include tests for cocaine, opioids, amphetamines, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, and
If you are conscious, able to talk with healthcare providers, and willing to cooperate,
you can provide information that helps providers figure out the best test for your
case. For example, if you are a victim of sexual assault, you may have this test to
find out whether someone slipped a benzodiazepine date rape drug, such as Rohypnol
("roofie"), into your drink.
You might also be tested if providers think you have taken benzodiazepines accidentally
or in a suicide attempt.
What other tests might I have along with this test?
If you seem to have an altered mental state, healthcare providers will most likely
give you a glucose test to check your blood sugar. If you are brought to a hospital
showing symptoms of central nervous system depression, such as confusion, slurred
speech, seizure, or coma, you may be tested for a variety of drugs, including benzodiazepines.
A benzodiazepine overdose alone is unlikely to cause coma or severe heart or lung
function problems. If you have those symptoms, a healthcare provider may screen for
other drugs and test for causes of central nervous system depression that are not
In addition to ordering a urine test, a healthcare provider may also order a blood
test for benzodiazepines. In some cases, it may be more practical to take a blood
sample than a urine sample. Blood tests are also harder for a patient to alter to
hide drug abuse.
Exactly which lab tests you have depends on your physical exam and information about
your condition that you are willing and able to provide.
What do my test results mean?
Many things may affect your lab test results. These include the method each lab uses
to do the test. Even if your test results are different from the normal value, you
may not have a problem. To learn what the results mean for you, talk with your health
A typical benzodiazepine urine test can detect benzodiazepines or their break-down
products, called metabolites. But this is a very complex test.
A positive test result means that the test found the medicine's metabolite in your
urine at the time the urine sample was taken. The amount found is called the threshold
concentration. This means there was enough metabolite to measure. It does not mean
the amount was enough to show you are actively using the medicine--or "under the influence."
The time it takes for a substance to show up in the urine varies by medicine. It can
show up within minutes of taking the medicine, and it can last for days.
The presence of benzodiazepines varies a lot by each medicine's half-life. Half-life
means the amount of time it takes for half of the medicine to be eliminated from the
body. Diazepam (Valium), for example, can be found for weeks after the last dose.
Although most benzodiazepines show up in standard urine tests, some don't. Alprazolam
(Xanax), clonazepam (Klonopin), temazepam (Restoril), and triazolam (Halcion) may
not be found in many of the common tests. Many benzodiazepine tests can find whether
the medicine is present, but can't give the amount.
Different benzodiazepines have different therapeutic doses, ranging from 0.5 to 50
milligrams (mg). Overdoses of 10 of 20 times the prescribed dose of some benzodiazepines
can result in a mild coma, but usually don't cause slow or shallow breathing. Most
Overdoses of fast-acting benzodiazepines like triazolam (Halcion) are more likely
to cause breathing problems and even death.
A medicine called flumazenil (Romazicon) may be used as an antidote to the sedative
effects of benzodiazepines. it shouldn't be used in people who have been taking benzodiazepines
over a long period to control seizures. In such cases, flumazenil could cause potentially
How is this test done?
This test requires a urine sample. Follow your healthcare provider's instructions
for collecting and storing the sample. In some cases, you may have to provide a sample
in the presence of a lab employee.
Does this test pose any risks?
This test poses no known risks.
What might affect my test results?
Some other medicines can cause a false positive result in benzodiazepine urine tests.
These drugs include:
How do I get ready for this test?
You do not need to prepare for this test. But be sure the lab technician and your
healthcare provider know all medicines, herbs, vitamins, and supplements you are taking.
This includes medicines that don’t need a prescription and any illicit drugs you may