Does this test have other names?
Benzodiazepine urine toxicology screen
What is this test?
This is a urine test to check for a type of medicine called benzodiazepine. Benzodiazepines
(behn-zoh-di-AZ-uh-peens) are medicines that depress the central nervous system. They
are used to sedate patients, help them sleep, prevent seizures, ease anxiety, and
relax muscle spasms. You may also hear these medicines called tranquilizers, sleeping
pills, and muscle relaxants.
Examples of common medicines for anxiety, muscle tension, and seizures include:
Examples of common medicines for calmness and sleep include:
These medicines are also sometimes used illegally. Street names for these medicines
include "downers," "benzos," "nerve pills," "candy," and "tranks." Chronic abuse of
benzodiazepines can lead to addiction. Using these medicines with other depressants
like alcohol can be fatal.
Why do I need this test?
Even if you have been prescribed one of these medicines, you may need this test if
you have signs or symptoms of an overdose. Signs and symptoms of overdose can include:
You may also have this test if a healthcare provider thinks you are abusing these
medicines or using them illegally.
If you have signs as above, you may also have this test as part of a drug screen to
check for other commonly abused medicines. These screens often include tests for:
If you are conscious and able to talk, you can give information to help your healthcare providers
figure out the right test for you. For example, if you are a victim of sexual assault,
you may have this test to see if someone put a benzodiazepine date rape drug, such
as flunitrazepam (Rohypnol or "roofie"), into your drink.
You might also be tested if providers think you have taken benzodiazepines accidentally
or in a suicide attempt.
Different benzodiazepines have different doses, ranging from 0.5 to 50 milligrams
(mg). Overdoses of 10 to 20 times the prescribed dose of some benzodiazepines can
cause a mild coma but don't cause slow or shallow breathing. Most people recover.
But overdoses of fast-acting benzodiazepines such as triazolam are more likely to
cause breathing problems and even death.
What other tests might I have along with this test?
You may also have a glucose test to check your blood sugar.
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 problems that are not caused
by medicine or drugs.
You may also have 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 person to alter to hide drug abuse.
Which tests you have depends on your exam and information that you are able to provide.
What do my test results mean?
Test results may vary depending on your age, gender, health history, the method used
for the test, and other things. Your test results may not mean you have a problem.
Ask your healthcare provider what your test results mean for you.
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. 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, for example, can be found for weeks after the last dose.
Although most benzodiazepines show up in standard urine tests, some don't. Alprazolam,
clonazepam, temazepam, and triazolam may not be found in many of the common tests.
Many benzodiazepine tests can find whether the medicine is present, but they can't
give the amount.
A medicine called flumazenil 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 these cases, flumazenil could cause withdrawal
that could lead to death.
How is this test done?
This test is done with 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 medicines 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 the medicines, herbs, vitamins, and supplements you are
taking. This includes medicines that don’t need a prescription and any illegal drugs
you may use.