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Valium Patient Tips

Written by C. Fookes, BPharm on May 30, 2016

How it works

Valium is a brand (trade) name for diazepam. Diazepam is a benzodiazepine (type of medicine used to calm and sedate) used for the short-term treatment of anxiety and seizure disorders. Diazepam is thought to work by enhancing the effects of GABA - an inhibitory neurotransmitter.

Upsides

  • May be used for the short-term relief of anxiety, to relieve symptoms associated with alcohol withdrawal, and to relieve muscle spasm.
  • Can also be used in the treatment of prolonged seizures in conjunction with other anti-seizure medications.

Downsides

If you are between the ages of 18 and 60, take no other medication or have no other medical conditions, side effects you are more likely to experience include:

  • Drowsiness, muscle weakness and unsteadiness when standing; all of which contribute to an increased risk of falls.
  • May also cause confusion, depression, headache, gastrointestinal disturbances, blurred vision and low blood pressure.
  • Amnesia (loss of short-term memory) is more likely to occur at higher dosages and has been associated with antisocial behavior.
  • May impair reaction skills and affect a person's ability to drive or operate machinery. Avoid alcohol (can enhance the sedative effect).
  • Emotional and physical dependence. Potential for abuse.
  • Withdrawal symptoms (including convulsions, tremor, cramps, vomiting, sweating, or insomnia) may occur with abrupt discontinuation after extended therapy; taper off slowly under a doctor's supervision.

Notes: In general, seniors or children, people with certain medical conditions (such as liver or kidney problems, heart disease, diabetes, seizures) or people who take other medications are more at risk of developing a wider range of side effects. For a complete list of all side effects, click here.

Bottom Line

Valium may be used occasionally to relieve anxiety and some other conditions; however, it is addictive and withdrawal symptoms can be severe.

Tips

  • Avoid operating machinery, driving, or performing tasks that require mental alertness while taking this medicine.
  • Grapefruit juice or grapefruit products may increase blood levels of Valium; avoid concurrent use.
  • Caution when going from a sitting or lying down to standing position.
  • Avoid alcohol while taking this medicine.
  • Lowest effective dose should be used, and do not increase or decrease dose without your doctor's advice.
  • May be given as split doses, with the largest dose just before bedtime.
  • Withdrawal symptoms (blurred vision, insomnia, sweating, rarely seizures) may occur if long-term Valium is stopped abruptly; discontinue slowly on a doctor's advice.
  • Paradoxical reactions (the opposite of what is expected), such as over-excitation, anxiety, hallucinations, insomnia, and rage have been reported; seek medical advice if these occur.

Response and Effectiveness

Peak effect seen within 1 to 1.5 hours in most people. Metabolized into active metabolites so effects may last for more than 24 hours and extend with repeated dosing as the drug accumulates in the body.

References

Valium (diazepam) [package insert] Revised 08/2015 Genentech, Inc. https://www.drugs.com/pro/valium.html

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

  • Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that this information is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. This drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. It is an informational resource designed as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Drugs.com does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of this information. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

Copyright 1996-2017 Drugs.com. Revision Date: 2016-05-30 00:00:00

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