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Diazepam

Generic Name: diazepam (oral) (dye AZ e pam)
Brand Name: Valium
Dosage Forms: oral concentrate (5 mg/mL); oral solution (5 mg/5 mL); oral tablet (10 mg; 2 mg; 5 mg)

Medically reviewed by Sanjai Sinha, MD. Last updated on Feb 19, 2021.

What is diazepam?

Diazepam is a benzodiazepine (ben-zoe-dye-AZE-eh-peen)). It is thought that benzodiazepines work by enhancing the activity of certain neurotransmitters in the brain.

Diazepam is used to treat anxiety disorders, alcohol withdrawal symptoms, or muscle spasms and stiffness.

Diazepam is sometimes used with other medications to treat seizures.

Warnings

Diazepam can slow or stop your breathing, especially if you have recently used an opioid medication, alcohol, or other drugs that can slow your breathing.

MISUSE OF diazepam CAN CAUSE ADDICTION, OVERDOSE, OR DEATH. Keep the medication in a place where others cannot get to it.

You should not use this medicine if you are allergic to diazepam or similar medicines (Klonopin>, Xanax, and others), or if you have myasthenia gravis, severe liver disease, narrow-angle glaucoma, a severe breathing problem, or sleep apnea.

MISUSE OF THIS MEDICINE CAN CAUSE ADDICTION, OVERDOSE, OR DEATH, especially in a child or other person using the medicine without a prescription.

Fatal side effects can occur if you use this medicine with opioid medicine, alcohol, or other drugs that cause drowsiness or slow your breathing.

Do not give this medication to a child younger than 6 months old.

Before taking this medicine

You should not use diazepam if you are allergic to it, or if you have:

Diazepam should not be given to a child younger than 6 months old. Do not give this medicine to a child without a doctor's advice.

To make sure this medicine is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have ever had:

  • breathing problems;

  • glaucoma;

  • kidney or liver disease;

  • seizures (unless you are taking this medicine to treat a seizure disorder);

  • a drug or alcohol addiction; or

  • depression, a mood disorder, or suicidal thoughts or behavior.

Some people have thoughts about suicide while taking diazepam. Stay alert to changes in your mood or symptoms. Report any new or worsening symptoms to your doctor.

Do not start or stop taking diazepam to treat seizures during pregnancy without your doctor's advice. Having a seizure during pregnancy could harm both mother and baby. Tell your doctor right away if you become pregnant.

When treating anxiety, alcohol withdrawal, or muscle spasms: If you use diazepam while you are pregnant, your baby could become dependent on the drug. This can cause life-threatening withdrawal symptoms in the baby after it is born. Babies born dependent on habit-forming medicine may need medical treatment for several weeks.

Do not breastfeed while using this medicine.

How should I take diazepam?

Take diazepam exactly as it was prescribed for you. Follow the directions on your prescription label and read all medication guides. Your doctor may occasionally change your dose. Never use this medicine in larger amounts, or for longer than prescribed. Tell your doctor if you feel an increased urge to use more of diazepam.

Never share this medicine with another person, especially someone with a history of drug abuse or addiction. MISUSE CAN CAUSE ADDICTION, OVERDOSE, OR DEATH. Keep the medication in a place where others cannot get to it. Selling or giving away this medicine is against the law.

Measure liquid medicine carefully. Use the dosing syringe provided, or use a medicine dose-measuring device (not a kitchen spoon).

Diazepam should be used for only a short time. Do not take this medicine for longer than 4 months without your doctor's advice.

Do not stop using this medicine suddenly, even if you feel fine. Stopping suddenly may cause increased seizures or unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Follow your doctor's instructions about tapering your dose.

You will need frequent medical tests.

Store at room temperature away from moisture, heat, and light. Keep track of your medicine. You should be aware if anyone is using it improperly or without a prescription.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Take the medicine as soon as you can, but skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next dose. Do not take two doses at one time.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222. An overdose of diazepam can be fatal if you take it with alcohol, opioid medicine, or other drugs that cause drowsiness or slow your breathing.

Overdose symptoms may include extreme drowsiness, loss of balance or coordination, limp or weak muscles, slow breathing, or coma.

What to avoid

Avoid drinking alcohol. Dangerous side effects or death could occur.

Grapefruit may interact with diazepam and lead to unwanted side effects. Avoid the use of grapefruit products.

Avoid driving or hazardous activity until you know how this medicine will affect you. Dizziness or drowsiness can cause falls, accidents, or severe injuries.

Diazepam side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction to diazepam: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Diazepam can slow or stop your breathing, especially if you have recently used an opioid medication, alcohol, or other drugs that can slow your breathing. A person caring for you should seek emergency medical attention if you have weak or shallow breathing, if you are hard to wake up, or if you stop breathing.

Call your doctor at once if you have:

  • severe drowsiness or dizziness;

  • unusual changes in mood or behavior;

  • new or worsening symptoms of depression or anxiety;

  • thoughts of suicide or hurting yourself;

  • confusion, hallucinations, sleep problems; or

  • new or worsening seizures.

The sedative effects of diazepam may last longer in older adults. Accidental falls are common in elderly patients who take benzodiazepines. Use caution to avoid falling or accidental injury while you are taking this medicine.

Common diazepam side effects may include:

  • drowsiness;

  • feeling tired;

  • muscle weakness; or

  • problems with balance or muscle movement.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What other drugs will affect diazepam?

Taking diazepam with other drugs that make you sleepy or slow your breathing can cause dangerous side effects or death. Ask your doctor before using opioid medication, a sleeping pill, a muscle relaxer, prescription cough medicine, or medicine for depression or seizures.

Other drugs may interact with diazepam, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any medicine you start or stop using.

Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use diazepam only for the indication prescribed.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.