What is Valium?
Valium is a brand name for the generic drug diazepam that belongs to a group of anti-anxiety medications known as benzodiazepines. Other members of this medication class include alprazolam (Xanax), clonazepam (Klonopin), flurazepam (Dalmane), lorazepam (Ativan), and others.
Originally approved by the FDA in 1960, it was only in 1963 when diazepam was first released to the market. It was touted as an improved version of Librium, which is the first benzodiazepine to be invented by the pharmaceutical company, Hoffman-Roche. Because of its potential for abuse and addiction, diazepam is classified as Schedule IV Controlled Substances
Diazepam is available only with your healthcare provider’s prescription. It is sold both as a trade name drug and as a generic drug. Valium is manufactured by many different pharmaceutical companies under different brands. It is supplied in various drug preparations and strengths that include tablets (2, 5 and 10 mg), solution (5 mg/ml), rectal gel (2.5, 10 and 20 mg), and injection (5 mg/ml). Typical Valium dosage is between 2 and 10 mg, from two to four times per day. Your doctor’s prescribed dosage should be followed exactly to avoid as many side effects as possible.
Valium (diazepam) is used to treat several different conditions. Valium is often used to assist with the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal which may include nausea, vomiting, seizures, tachycardia and DTs. Valium can also be used for muscle spasms and short-term treatment of anxiety. In conjunction with other medications, valium may be used to treat seizures that are difficult to control. Valium is not approved to treat seizures by itself, however, and must be used in conjunction with other drugs for this purpose.
It may also be prescribed for other medical purposes not discussed in this medication guide. For instance, some healthcare provider prescribes this medication “off-label” to prevent recurrent night terrors or extremely bad nightmares.
How Valium Works
Valium works by affect certain brain chemicals or neurotransmitters that may have become unbalanced, causing anxiety. Basically, all medications belonging to benzodiazepine group enhance the effects of the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. GABA is used by the nerve cells to communicate with each other and produces an inhibitory effect in the brain. It is thought that excessive brain activity can lead to anxiety, seizures and other neurologic conditions. By enhancing the effects of GABA, it can help calm the brain and relieve anxiety symptoms.
How to Take Valium
- Read your prescription label carefully. Take Valium exactly as instructed by your healthcare provider. Do not take more than the recommended amount or longer than the prescribed duration for you.
- Oral Valium is usually taken three to four times a day. It may be taken with or without food. If it upsets your stomach, try taking it with food.
- Your healthcare provider may occasionally adjust your dose. Be sure to follow scheduled appointment and treatment regimen.
- If using the oral solution, use the specific measuring device (spoon or medicine cup) that comes with the product package. If it does not include one, request from your pharmacist. Do not use regular tablespoon.
- Valium is intended for short time use only (usually 12 weeks). Do not use for longer than recommended duration unless specifically instructed by your healthcare provider.
- Do not discontinue taking Valium without consulting your healthcare provider. Abruptly stopping the drug can lead to increased seizures or possible withdrawal symptoms. Your healthcare provider may gradually wean you off the drug before discontinuing it.
Important Things To Remember When Using Valium
- Never take more than the prescribed amount. Valium overdose can be fatal. Report any signs of drug overdose that include insomnia, stomach and muscle cramps, shaking, sweating, vomiting, and seizures.
- Do not take Valium if you have known allergy to diazepam or other benzodiazepines, or if you underlying medical conditions particularly severe kidney or liver impairment, myasthenia gravis, severe breathing problem, narrow-angle glaucoma, or sleep apnea.
- Pregnant women should not use Valium as it could harm the unborn child.
- Discuss with your healthcare provider if you have history of alcohol problems, drug addiction, depression, mental illness, or suicidal thoughts.
- Do not drink any alcoholic beverage while taking Valium. This medication can potentiate the effects of alcohol.
- Valium has increased potential for abuse. Keep your medication in a secure place where others cannot have access to it. Be aware if anyone is taking your medication improperly.