Diazepam or Valium is a prescription medication used to treat anxiety disorders and seizures. In some cases, it is also prescribed to treat acute alcohol withdrawal syndrome, insomnia, and muscle spasms. Diazepam is a level IV controlled substance in the US with a high potential for abuse. You must use your medication in moderation to avoid addiction and overdose.
What is Diazepam, and how does it work?
Diazepam can be prescribed to people with multiple conditions like alcohol withdrawal, anxiety, insomnia, etc. It is prescribed for short-term treatment as it can be habit-forming. Diazepam is a part of a class of drugs called benzodiazepine, which enhances the effect of a naturally occurring chemical in the brain called Gamma-aminobutyric Acid, which decreases the abnormal activity in the brain.
A benzodiazepine functions to promote the activity of GABA, which works as an inhibitory neurotransmitter. It inhibits the initiation, sending, and receiving of chemical signals from one nerve cell to the other. GABA decreases overactivity in the brain and slows it down. Low levels of GABA are known to indicate stress, anxiety, and epilepsy. Diazepam increases GABA levels, producing a feeling of calmness and relaxation in your body and decreasing anxiety symptoms and others.
How does Diazepam make you feel?
Diazepam is a level IV controlled substance and can be abused or misused due to its euphoria-like effects. The other possible side effects of Diazepam can be either common or severe.
The common side effects of Diazepam are-
4- Blurred Vision
5- Unsteady feeling
Most of the common side effects of Diazepam should decrease with time, and you should inform your doctor if they persist or get worse.
The severe side effects include-
1- Unusual mood changes like agitation, aggression, hallucinations, and confusion
2- Memory problems
3- Trouble speaking
4- Trouble walking
5- Weakness or shaking (tremors)
6- Yellowing of the skin or eyes
The severe side effects of Diazepam are unlikely, and it is advised that you inform your doctor and look for immediate medical help.
A severe allergic reaction to Diazepam is rare; however, if you notice symptoms of rashes, itching, and swelling of the face, tongue, and throat, severe dizziness, and difficulty breathing.
Other short-term symptoms include dilated pupils, changes in appetite (loss of appetite), and mood swings. If you have Diazepam with alcohol, cannabis products, or other CNS depressants, you may feel more intoxicated as it can aggravate your side effects of dizziness and drowsiness.
If you use Diazepam for a long time, you may develop dependence and tolerance. You may feel like the dosage prescribed to you isn’t enough and need a higher dose, or you may feel that you cannot function without it. It is advised that you inform your doctor about it instead of increasing your dosage on your own.
Precautions to be taken while using Diazepam
- Diazepam can be addictive and habit-forming, especially if you have previously abused or misused a substance. It is advised that you use your dosage in moderation to avoid addiction and overdose.
- If you have been or are prescribed to use Diazepam for a long time, it is suggested that you taper your dosage before discontinuing. If you decrease your dosage with time instead of going cold turkey, you may avoid withdrawal symptoms like restlessness and insomnia.
- It would be best to inform your doctor about your medical history, especially of liver or kidney disease, breathing problems, muscle disease, or mental or mood disorders like depression or suicide ideation.
- You should abstain from consuming alcohol and other CNS depressants as they can aggravate and worsen your side effects.
- In the case of older adults, you may be more sensitive to the side effects, and it is suggested that you use your dosage in moderation and monitor your side effects regularly.
- If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, your doctor will likely advise you against Diazepam as it can have harmful side effects on the baby.
How should you have Diazepam?
Diazepam is orally administered and can be had with or without food. It would be best if you had Diazepam as directed by your doctor and not have it in larger amounts or for longer than necessary.
1- The usual adult dosage for anxiety is 2mg to 10mg to be had 2 to 4 times a day.
2- The dosage for acute alcohol withdrawal is 10mg to be had 3 to 4 times a day for the first 24 hours and 5mg to be had 3 to 4 times daily as a maintenance dosage.
3- The usual dosage for adults to treat muscle spasms is 2mg to 10mg to be had 3 to 4 times a day.
4- In the case of seizures, the usual dosage for adults is 2mg to 10mg to be had 2 to 4 times daily.
The dosage of Diazepam given to you by your prescribing physician will be based on your medical condition, age, and response to treatment.