Valium, the trade name for diazepam, earned its reputation as an anti-anxiety agent in the 1970s. At that time, the drug was so popular that it became a cultural phenomenon, representing the country’s new faith in psychiatric medication. Today, the medical community has become more aware of the abuse potential of Valium; however, the drug is still frequently prescribed for a number of physical and psychiatric conditions.

For What Is Valium Prescribed?

Relief of anxiety is still the most common reason for prescribing Valium. According to WebMD, nearly 29 percent of Americans struggle with anxiety at some point in their lives, and the country spends $42 billion each year treating anxiety-related disorders. Anxiety is a debilitating condition that can affect your quality of life, detracting from your work, relationships, sleep and overall health.

How It Works

Valium calms the central nervous system by binding with brain receptors that respond to a neurotransmitter called GABA. At therapeutic doses, Valium can make you feel more relaxed, less stressed and more capable of coping with the demands of life.

 

Valium is also prescribed for other disorders that arise from abnormal activity in the brain or nerves, including:
  • Seizure disorders
  •   Insomnia
  •  Muscle spasms
  •  Alcohol withdrawal syndrome

Valium is also used as a sedative before certain surgical procedures. In a hospital setting, it is given intravenously to treat status epilepticus, or a state of continuous seizures.

In the 1970s, Valium was the gold standard of treatment for anxiety disorders. In the 21st century, less addictive medications may be prescribed first for anxiety. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like Prozac, Celexa, Lexapro and Paxil, can also provide effective treatment for anxiety. Buspirone is an anti-anxiety medication that does not have the sedative qualities or addictive potential of benzodiazepines like Valium.

 

Who Should Not Take Valium?

Because diazepam is readily absorbed by your system, it provides efficient relief of anxiety symptoms, sleeplessness or muscle spasms. But this rapid absorption also increases the abuse potential of Valium, according to the American Family Physician.

Diazepam is not generally prescribed, or is prescribed with caution, in the following patients:

Your doctor will review your health history to determine whether diazepam is a safe, effective option for you. Valium should only be taken with a health care provider’s supervision and according to the directions on your prescription. Tolerance to diazepam can develop within a few weeks of therapy, which means that your doctor may need to adjust the dose in order to maintain its effects.

Because the brain quickly becomes tolerant to the effects of Valium, this drug is not recommended for patients who have had problems with addiction in the past. However, Valium may be given in a medically supervised setting to prevent the seizures, tremors and agitation associated with alcohol withdrawal syndrome.

Am I at Risk of Valium Addiction?

If you’ve been taking Valium for nonmedical reasons, you are at risk of chemical dependence and addiction. Valium use must be monitored carefully to keep the user from developing a compulsive need for the drug. If you’re worried that you’ve lost control of your diazepam use, we’re here to offer help, support and answers to your questions.

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