Valium (diazepam), falls within a class of drugs called benzodiazepines, used in the short-term to treat anxiety, and is helpful during alcohol withdrawal, as well as for the prevention of seizures. It also is used to relieve secondary injury-related muscle spasms, and for pre-surgical sedation. Valium has a calming effect but comes with a risk for dependence.
Benzodiazepine drugs are some of the most commonly prescribed drugs in the US and worldwide. Knowing as much as possible about drugs before starting or stopping them can be life-saving, and can help you navigate through health challenges more safely.
According to recent studies, published in 2017, benzodiazepine prescriptions increased by more than threefold between 1996 and 2013, and in that same time frame, benzodiazepine-related overdoses quadrupled. Valium and other similar tranquilizers have a growing street presence as a drug of abuse, in addition to their clinical or medical use.
Learning drug information about the effects of Valium and other types of benzodiazepines will prove to be invaluable by knowing how to use them in the safest ways possible.
Valium is a sedative that is used for:
Valium is intended for short-term use only. After as little as a week or two, a person may develop dependence and could experience withdrawals when stopping the drug. Combining benzodiazepines with other central nervous system depressants can be fatal. Always seek medical guidance before combining medications.
A gentle taper off the drug is recommended to avoid problems with cessation.
Diazepam is the generic name for the active drug in Valium. Other trade names exist, including Diastat Acudial, Diastat, and Diazepam Intensol.
Valium has developed a significant street presence, possibly due to, at least in part, Valium’s cheap cost, profound calming effects, and its use in easing withdrawals from other addictive drugs such as opiates.
Slang names for drugs are useful when people want to hide what they are actually talking about for social, legal, or other reasons.
Some slang or substitute names that refer to Valium sold illicitly are:
Valium is used to treat anxiety and as a muscle-relaxant, sleep-aid, and can be used in various settings, for example, during alcohol withdrawal to prevent seizures or pre-surgery to relax the patient. Valium is a fast-acting tranquilizer that produces a calming sensation, slows the heart beat and breathing, and allows the muscles to relax.
Other Valium side effects include:
These are not all the side effects. If any symptoms arise that seem unusual or are of concern, contact your prescribing physician without delay to report the side effects.
Withdrawals from benzodiazepines can occur within one to four days after stopping. Dependence can develop after short-term use; hence, the minimum dose and minimum duration of use is recommended.
Some signs of withdrawal may include:
These symptoms may appear as soon as within a day of the last dose. However, they may not appear for some days after stopping, and can quickly develop into harsh symptoms requiring medical attention or hospitalization.
Abrupt cessation of benzodiazepines is not recommended but a gentle taper off can ease the withdrawals significantly.
Do not attempt a “cold turkey” approach to coming off Valium.
Medical assistance should be arranged to monitor symptoms while gradually reducing the dosage. Sometimes, a bridge medication might be added if the withdrawals become too severe to be tolerated.
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about diazepam and benzodiazepines in general. The information provided includes the mechanics of action, overdose symptoms, and other relevant topics.
Benzodiazepines have been linked to thousands of overdose deaths, and yet remain one of the most common and frequently prescribed drugs to alleviate anxiety.
At the Alternative to Meds Center, this gives us two major areas of concern:
We specialize in both of these areas. It is not enough to simply help someone safely stop taking a drug on which they have become physically dependent. This is extremely important, to be sure, yet it is only part of the journey.
The symptoms that one thought Valium would solve, and did not, can be addressed in holistic ways to attain sustainable, non-harmful therapeutic relief. Such holistic therapy does not create more chaos or cause addiction.
You can find relief. We can help. Contact us for more information about our holistic programs that can help in achieving sustainable and natural mental health.
Dr. Michael Loes is board-certified in Internal Medicine, Pain Management and Addiction Medicine. He holds a dual license in Homeopathic and Integrative Medicine. He obtained his medical doctorate at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, 1978. Dr. Loes performed an externship at the National Institute of Health for Psychopharmacology. Additionally, he is a well-published author including Arthritis: The Doctor’s Cure, The Aspirin Alternative, The Healing Response, and Spirit Driven Health: The Psalmist’s Guide for Recovery. He has been awarded the Minnesota Medical Foundation’s “Excellence in Research” Award.