Diazepam is the generic name for Valium, a prescription drug doctors prescribe to treat symptoms of anxiety
Anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, and obsessive-compulsive
Valium may also be prescribed to treat the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal known as "delirium tremens."
Additionally, the drug can treat muscle spasms from injury, inflammation, or nerve disorders.
Doctors sometimes prescribe Valium along with other medications to treat convulsions or seizures.
Valium belongs to a class of drugs called benzodiazepines, which work by increasing the effects of GABA, a neurotransmitter that moderates the activity of nerve signals in the brain.
Abuse of benzodiazepines, especially in combination with opiate painkillers, has become increasingly common in recent years.
The 'Valium High' and Abuse Potential
Valium and other benzodiazepines have a high potential for abuse.
Because these drugs can increase the effects of prescription painkillers such as opioids, some people abuse benzodiazepines along with opioids for the relaxed, euphoric "high" this combination offers.
Cocaine addicts can use benzodiazepines to relieve uncomfortable side effects, like irritability and agitation.
Abuse of benzodiazepines also includes using them to boost the effects of alcohol and ease the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.
People who abuse benzodiazepines often refer to the drugs by their street names, including "benzos," "downers," "nerve pills," and "tranks."
Valium can be habit-forming. If you take it for a long time, your body will build up tolerance (a resistance to the drug's effects).
If you stop taking Valium suddenly after taking it for a long time, you may have withdrawal symptoms including anxiety, irritability, and trouble sleeping.
Valium is intended for short-term use. Because it may be habit-forming, it's not recommended that people take it for longer than four months.
If you have had problems with drug or alcohol abuse in the past, you may be at higher risk for Valium becoming habit-forming.
Drinking alcohol may make some side effects of Valium more severe.
Pregnancy and Valium
Valium is not safe to use if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Taking Valium during pregnancy may lead to birth defects and withdrawal symptoms in newborns.
Because Valium passes into breast milk, you should not breastfeed while on Valium.
Before taking Valium, tell your doctor if you are pregnant, may be pregnant, or are breastfeeding. If you become pregnant while taking Valium, tell your doctor right away.
Children younger than 6 months should not take Valium.
Diazepam (Valium) Interactions
Many drugs may affect the way Valium works, and Valium may affect other drugs you are taking.
It's very important to let your doctor know about all drugs you are taking, including illegal or recreational drugs, any over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, and any herbs or supplements.
Types of drugs that are known to interact with Valium and may cause problems include:
- Monoamine oxidase inhibitors, or MAOIs (drugs used for depression)
- Phenothiazines (drugs used for severe mental illness)
- Drugs used for anxiety, including fluoxetine (Prozac)
- Sedatives, muscle relaxants, and drugs used for sleep
- Cough and cold drugs that contain antihistamines
- Narcotic pain medications and barbiturates
- Drugs used to treat heartburn, including cimetidine (Tagamet) and ranitidine (Zantac)
- Drugs used to treat fungal infections, including ketoconazole (Nizoral)
- Drugs used to treat Parkinson’s disease, including levodopa (Larodopa, Sinemet),
- Anti-seizure drugs, including valproic acid (Depakene) and phenytoin (Dilantin)
- Some heart medications, such as digoxin (Lanoxin) and metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol XL)
Diazepam (Valium) Dosage
Valium comes in tablets, extended-release capsules, and liquid form.
You can take Valium with or without food.
In tablet form, Valium comes in 2-, 5-, and 10-milligram (mg) pills.
Your dose will depend on the condition you have and your own response to Valium:
- A typical adult dose of Valium to treat anxiety may range from 2 to 10 mg two to four times a day.
- A typical adult dose of Valium to treat alcohol withdrawal may be 10 mg three to four times a day for 24 hours followed by 5 mg taken three to four times a day as needed.
- A typical adult dose of Valium to treat muscle spasms may range from 2 to 10 mg three to four times a day.
- A typical adult dose of Valium to treat seizures may range from 2 to 10 mg two to four times a day.
- Older people or people with a chronic illness may take 2 to 2.5 mg once or twice a day.