Valium, also marketed under the name Diazepam, is a medication that is prescribed to calm down psychic tension in patients suffering from anxiety, alcohol withdrawal, and seizures. This medicine was developed by F. Hoffmann-La Roche’s drug and was approved by the FDA in 1963. The medication became a cultural icon and the sales skyrocketed up to 2 billion prescriptions in 1 year. With more people consuming it there were alarming rates of patients coming in with addiction issues due to the usage of the drug. That year the FDA declared that Valium is a controlled substance that goes under the Schedule IV class. Though the medication treats the conditions one needs relief from effectively, excessive usage can cause adverse effects that are very dangerous and life-threatening.
How Does Valium Affect the Brain?
Valium is a centrally acting drug with rapid action properties. The components of the drug work by facilitating the GABA neurotransmitters in the brain to induce a feeling of calm and relaxation in the person. This reduces anxiety, thus reducing panic attacks, epilepsy, or muscle spasms. Once the brain, mind, and body are calmed, the sedative effect of the medication is achieved which helps them fall asleep. There are various ways and means by which Valium can be administered. As the saying goes, ‘too much of anything is good for nothing’ the same applies to valium too. Taking more than the prescribed doses can cause serious side effects including drowsiness, uncoordinated motor movements, breathing difficulties, confusion, and impaired memory. It can also be habit-forming which develops tolerance and leads to addiction. Combining Valium with alcohol or other illicit substances can cause side effects that can be life-threatening.
Since the medication works on the electrical activity of the brain, long-term usage of the medication can alter the brain chemicals to a level where they cannot function efficiently without Valium. To achieve the initial effectiveness of the drug, increased doses are required. This habit is what paves the way for addiction. Surveys were taken by the Center For Substance Abuse Research and the results showed that though patients experienced serious adverse effects on their health, they were not able to stop the usage of the medication. The dependence on the drug was psychological. Their thoughts were entirely on how to get their hands on the drug, how to stock up in case they run out of medications, stealing money to buy pills, neglecting any kind of social interaction. They are constantly agitated, restless, or anxious.
What Precautions Should Be Taken Before Taking Valium:
Regular appointments should be made with the doctor to monitor the progress of the patient. Since it is a highly addictive drug it is necessary that one should exercise utmost caution when taking the medication. Do not take Valium if you are pregnant or breastfeeding as the components may affect the child causing sedation and withdrawal symptoms at such an early age.
The use of the drug in elderly patients should be monitored closely to look for signs of even slight adverse effects, in which case the use of the medication should be stopped immediately.
Do not consume alcohol as it may increase the effect of the drug causing severe nervous depression and if timely help is not administered can lead to coma or even death.
Consult with your primary care physician in the event that you experience any adverse after-effects or if you experience deteriorating of any of the side effects.
Even if you take Valium exactly as per the recommendation of your doctor, you may still experience withdrawal symptoms although the effects can be treated efficiently, however, the same cannot be said for those taking the medication for a long time. If you feel the medication is not working effectively, talk to a doctor about that rather than increasing the dosage amounts yourself.
Do not take Valium with any other prescription or nonprescription medicines, vitamins, minerals, or supplements to avoid dangerous and unnecessary interactions.