What Conditions Does Valium Treat?
Benzodiazepines are used to treat anxiety disorders and anxiety related to medical conditions, surgical procedures or mental disorders such as depression. It is a Schedule IV controlled substance that is available as an injectable, tablet or gel. Doses typically range from five to 40 milligrams per day.
Valium (diazepam) is prescribed for the treatment of:
- Anxiety disorders
- Acute alcohol withdrawal symptoms
- Chronic sleep disorders
- Muscle spasms
- Seizure disorders
- Anxiety before a medical procedure
Side Effects of Valium
Valium generally begins to take effect in about 30 minutes, and effects can last for 12 to 24 hours. The NIDA reported that low doses of Valium can produce short-term effects such as:
- Muscle spasms and weakness
- Vision problems (e.g., blurred vision)
- Decreased alertness
- Reduced blood pressure
- Poor concentration
- Coordination problems, such as loss of balance (ataxia)
- Problems with memory and movement
Paradoxical effects such as aggression or disinhibition can also occur with benzodiazepines, but these side effects are usually rare. Valium can be particularly dangerous when combined with other drugs such as alcohol and opioids, as this combination can dangerously slow heart rate and breathing, which can be fatal.
Benzodiazepines such as Valium also have a high potential for abuse, physical dependence and addiction. When taken for long periods of time or in larger doses than prescribed, the risk for negative side effects increases as does the risk of dependence and addiction.
Long-term Effects And Health Consequences
Taking Valium longer than three months can cause cognitive problems and can lead to physical dependence and withdrawal; physical dependence can develop after a few days or weeks. Long-term Valium use can also slow breathing and heart rate, which can be dangerous, and increase the risk of infectious disease when the drug is injected due to sharing needles.
Dependence And Withdrawal
People who take diazepam for long time periods or who take the drug in higher doses or longer than prescribed may also experience withdrawal symptoms when they try to suddenly stop taking the medication. Some of the withdrawal symptoms of Valium may include:
- Abdominal and muscle cramps
People who wish to stop taking Valium after taking the medication for a long period of time may need to be tapered off the drug by their prescribing physician. The doctor will slowly reduce the patient’s dosage to minimize withdrawal effects of the drug.
Valium addiction can lead to compulsive drug use, drug cravings and continued use of the drug despite negative consequences that result from its use. Valium addiction is associated with withdrawal symptoms when a person tries to stop taking the drug. While Valium abuse rarely leads to death, it can still lead to physical and psychological dependence and withdrawal symptoms that can be life-threatening.