Valium is the brand name for Diazepam, an anxiety medication belonging to the benzodiazepine class of drugs. Valium is also classified as a schedule IV drug and can be used only with a prescription. The drug is highly potent and the efficacy has led to it being prescribed for a number of health conditions. Some of the ailments for which Valium is administered are panic attacks, anxiety disorders, certain symptoms of vertigo, sleep disorders, muscle spasms, seizures, alcohol withdrawal symptoms, and as a sedative.
How does Valium work?
Valium primarily works by modifying the chemicals in the brain that may be imbalanced due to the disorder. The drug enhances the effects of the neurotransmitter GABA (gamma amino-butyric acid). Depending on the route of administration for the condition being treated, Valium produces calming, drowsy, and muscle relaxant effects.
Valium is primarily used as an orally administered tablet that may be of 2mg, 5mg, or 10mg. The tablets are scored on one side and the dose can be split if required. The drug takes at least forty minutes to start working and has a biological half-life of about twenty hours. It is also possible to take Valium as suppository, injected into the muscle or intravenously as the need may be. Valium is typically prescribed for short-term use, except in cases where the long-term use has greater merit on the health condition. The drug has the property of quickly building tolerance in an individual, and also drug dependence. This means that Valium should only be administered by following the doctor’s prescription instruction and the pills should never be shared with anyone not prescribed to take it.
How does one take Valium?
Valium is most effective only when it is taken as advised by the healthcare provider and you can also read the literature that comes with the drug. If you do not find the dose to be effective, avoid changing the dose on your own and always consult with the doctor regarding any dose modifications. The Valium tablet may be taken with a glass of water. Do not crush or chew the pills but swallow it whole.
Avoid taking the anxiety medication for longer than required. Also, do not discontinue the use of Valium abruptly as there can be severe withdrawal symptoms. The drug is habit-forming in nature and should not be abused or taken in any way other than as intended. If Valium is used for long-term treatment of more than a few months then go for regular health checkups.
Store the Valium pills in an airtight bottle that and away from direct heat, sunlight, or moisture. Do not keep the medication in the bathroom cabinet or near the sink. It is recommended to store the drug in a locked cabinet that is out of reach of children and pets. If there are any unused pills after the drug course is over, contact your pharmacist for the safe disposal of Valium.
If you are on a dosing schedule, then the missed dose should be taken as soon as you remember to do so. Skip the missed dose if it is closer to the schedule for the next dose. Doubling the dose or taking more than the recommended limit can increase the risk of side effects and also lead to overdose.
Symptoms of Valium overdose include excessive drowsiness, fainting, muscle weakness or limpness, and lack of coordination to name a few. Get emergency medical attention in case of suspected drug overdose.
Common side effects that can occur from using Valium are:
- Loss of coordination
- Tiredness or feeling weak
- Muscle weakness
Severe side effects:
- New or worsening seizures
- Unusual changes in thoughts and behavior
- Suicidal thoughts
- Hyperactive or aggressive
- Trouble breathing
- Muscle twitching
- Trouble with urination
- Loss of bladder control
In case of an allergic reaction to Diazepam, severe or persistent side effects, do not waste any time in getting emergency medical help.
Precautions of use
- Avoid drinking alcohol or consuming any grapefruit products. They can cause dangerous side effects when used with Valium.
- The drug should never be used in someone less than six months old.
- Valium is not recommended for use in pregnant women as it can cause life-threatening withdrawal symptoms in the newborn. Consult the doctor right away if you become pregnant while on Valium.
- Breast-feeding is not recommended as the drug can be passed through breast milk to the nursing baby.
- While getting the medication prescribed, inform the doctor if you have conditions like severe liver disease, any major breathing disorder, history of drug or alcohol addiction, glaucoma, seizures, any kind psychosis, and if you use any opioids.
To prevent any harmful effects with the interaction between Valium and other drugs, inform to the healthcare provider any drugs currently being taken like vitamins, herbal supplements, over the counter, and prescription medications. Since Valium is used for a number of conditions, be wary of using other drugs that have similar effects like sleeping pills, antidepressants, narcotics, antiepileptic drugs, cough drugs, muscle relaxants or other anti-anxiety pills. Some drugs that can easily interact with Valium are:
- Blood pressure pills
- Antiretroviral medications used for managing HIV/AIDS
- Antifungal formulations