Diazepam: Uses, Side Effects, Dosage & more

Diazepam for anxiety & Seizures

Overview

Diazepam is a benzodiazepine class drug that is available in the tablet form, and it helps treat the symptoms of anxiety, alcohol withdrawal, and seizures. This drug is also available under the brand name Valium. There is no difference in the generic and brand version of this medicine, apart from the variety of doses. Brand name drugs usually have more options when it comes to strength, but the generic version is generally cheaper.

Uses

The primary use of diazepam is to treat the symptoms of anxiety, alcohol withdrawal, and seizures. Doctors often also prescribe this drug to relieve muscle spasm, and another use of this medicine is to provide sedation before medical procedures.

A doctor might recommend this drug as a combination therapy, meaning a person may have to consume this medicine with other drugs.

This drug belongs to the family of medicines called benzodiazepines that works by inducing calming effects in the nerves and the brain. It increases gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a brain chemical responsible for sending signals throughout the nervous system. Lower levels of GABA can cause a person a feel excited and amplify anxiety.

This medicine makes the body produce more GABA, reducing the symptoms of anxiety, seizures, and muscle spasm.

Side effects

Diazepam is safe for use if a doctor prescribes it. But that doesn’t mean that there are no side effects of this drug. Because this medication works by altering the brain’s chemical composition, the user might experience the following side effects:,

  • Dizziness
  • Constipation
  • Headache
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea
  • Excessive saliva
  • Drowsiness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Tremor
  • Inability to control muscle movement
  • Fatigue or tiredness

These are some of the common side effects of this medicine, but a person can experience more severe side effects, which might require medical attention.

Severe side effects include:

  • Worsening of seizures
  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts 
  • Slurred speech
  • Memory loss
  • Confusion
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Vertigo (feeling of the room spinning)
  • Hallucinations
  • Agitation
  • Increased muscle spasm
  • Anxiety
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Jaundice
  • Inability to urinate
  • Increase or decrease in sex drive
  • Sweating
  • Convulsions
  • Muscle or abdominal cramps

If you get any severe side effects, get in touch with a doctor or call the emergency services like 911.

Diazepam Addiction

It is possible to build a dependence on this drug if you use it for prolonged periods. The reliance can soon turn into an addiction. Taking more than the prescribed dose can also result in the development of a diazepam addiction.

People who take this medicine for more than a period of 4 to 6 weeks have a higher risk of getting addicted. If you are using this drug, then look out for the initial signs of addiction. 

It is better to deal with the addiction at the earlier stage than waiting for it to subside naturally. Following are the indications a diazepam addiction:

  • Intense cravings for the medicine
  • Loss of interest in hobbies and pleasure activities
  • Isolation from friends and family
  • Ignoring obligations
  • Using medicine despite the problems it causes

Apart from these signs, you should also check if you are developing a tolerance for this medication. If you feel that you require a higher dose to achieve the same effects, consult with a doctor to either adjust the dosage or using some other medicine.

Treatment for Diazepam addiction

Like with any other addiction, medical detox is required to treat diazepam addiction. It is essential to go through the detoxification process under the supervision of a medical professional; doing it yourself can lead to more complications, which might increase the risk of exposure to severe side effects.

At a treatment facility, the healthcare professionals evaluate the patients by conducting a thorough physical and mental assessment. Doctors carefully prepare a treatment plan to avoid triggering the worst of the withdrawal symptoms. To achieve their goal, they might give anticonvulsant, anti-anxiety, or anti-seizure medication to assist in the recovery process. 

Along with medical treatment, the patient also has to go through psychological treatment (therapy). It helps the doctors understand the reasons behind the addiction, which can prevent the patient from relapsing.

Diazepam pills

Dosage

Along with medical treatment, the patient also has to go through psychological treatment (therapy). It helps the doctors understand the reasons behind the addiction, which can prevent the patient from relapsing.

Adults – 18-64 years

  • 2 to 10 mg 
  • 2-4 times per day

Children – 6 months-17 years

  • 1 to 2.5 mg
  • 3-4 times per day

Senior – 65 years and older

  • 2 to 2.5 mg
  • 1-2 times per day

The doctor might increase or decrease the dose as per the patient’s response to the medication.

Precaution

Before starting the treatment with diazepam, you should be aware of the following precaution that might help you avoid any severe side effects of this drug.

  • Inform your doctor or pharmacist if you have any allergic reaction to benzodiazepines.
  • Talk to the doctor about any allergies that you might have before taking this medicine.
  • Tell the doctor about all the prescription and non-prescription medication that you are taking.
  • Avoid using intoxicating substances while on this medication. Alcohol, marijuana, or other drugs can worsen the side effects of this medicine.
  • This drug can make you feel drowsy, so avoid any task that requires attention like driving or operating a heavy machine after taking it. 
  • Inform the doctor about the use of this drug before going through surgery.
  • This drug can have an opposite effect on children. That means, instead of calming them, it can increase the excitement.
  • Older adults can be at a higher risk of experiencing the severe side effects of this medication, such as loss of coordination and drowsiness. It is crucial to control the dosage of this medication in older adults to avoid chances of severe side effects.
  • Doctors might advise you to avoid this medication during pregnancy, as it might harm the unborn child. If you need to use this drug during pregnancy, consult with your doctor to avoid any complications.
  • This drug can pass into breastmilk and have undesirable effects on the health of the infant. Talk to a doctor before using this drug if you are breastfeeding. 

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