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About Valium

Valium is a generic name for a drug called diazepam. Valium belongs to the benzodiazepine family. Benzodiazepines are a group of tranquilizing medications with sedative, anxiety reducing, muscle relaxing and sleep inducing properties.

Valium is most commonly prescribed to treat anxiety disorders, alcohol withdrawal syndrome and chronic sleep disorders. It is also used in the treatment of epilepsy due to its anticonvulsant abilities. Valium is considered a long-acting classical benzodiazepine, meaning it has a longer effect compared to other benzodiazepines. Prolonged use of Valium causes the body to develop a tolerance which means that higher doses are needed to produce the same effect. This is why prolonged use can lead to addiction. Valium is considered one of the most commonly abused legal drugs.

It has a high ability to cause a physical and psychological dependence and is therefore regarded as having a high abuse potential. The United States Controlled Substances Act defines Valium as Schedule IV drug as it is likely to cause dependence when used without proper medical surveillance.

Its effect on the central nervous system is mostly due to stimulation of inhibitory effects of a neurotransmitter called GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid).  It is considered as an anxiolytic, anticonvulsant and muscle relaxant medication.
Most common side effects of Valium use are sleepiness and difficulties with coordination, but some may experience amnesia (loss of memory), emotional and physical dependence and blurred vision.

Valium carries an increased risk of developing congenital malformations when used during pregnancy, and therefore it is contraindicated during pregnancy as well as in children under six months and those suffering from myasthenia gravis, sleep apnea, liver dysfunction or respiratory problems.

Valium should be carefully used in combination with other medications. Special precautions are given to the combination of Valium and medications that affect the brain such as antidepressants or drugs that are employed in the treatment of psychiatric disorders and epilepsy.
Concomitant use of Valium and opioids (pain relievers such as codeine) can cause a higher level of sedation, which can stop breathing and lead to coma and death.
Valium is distributed in 2mg, 5mg and 10 mg strength. Depending on the dose, the pills they come in different shapes and colors. When it comes to Valium, all three doses are round in shape but can be distinct by color. The 2mg dose is white, 5 mg is yellow and the 10 mg dose pill is blue in color.

Valium is known to have multiple drug interactions, so it is important to inform your doctor or physician if you are taking any other medications. Also, it is advised not to use Valium with alcohol as both have a depressant effect on the central nervous system.

Origin if Valium use

Valium was introduced into the market during the 1960’s, and a decade later its popularity grew but with significant repercussions due to an increase of its abuse, leading to dependence and addiction.  It was praised for its anxiolytic and sedative abilities and functionality in treating chronic sleep disorders such as insomnia. Unfortunately, it was later discovered that Valium has a potential for creating psychological and psychical dependence when used for a prolonged period. This dependence was shown to have a significant impact on one’s social and professional life and quality of mental health. Therefore warnings have been issued for physicians to use diazepam (Valium) strictly for a short-term relief of symptoms. Only selected conditions such as epilepsy are considered as an indication for a longer use of Valium, but this must be under strict surveillance of medical professional.

Due to its abuse potential and availability in the early years it became popular among alcohol and drug abusers. Thanks to that Valium got street credibility and multiple street names such as benzos, blue V, candy, downers, sleeping pills and tranks.

How Valium is consumed

Valium is administered orally and the average time to achieve peak plasma concentration is 1-1,5 hours. It can also be administered rectally as a suppository, or by injecting it into a vein or a muscle. Valium addicts tend to crush and snort or try to inject valium pills in an attempt to get more immediate effects. This can have significant implications for health and can lead to an increase in adverse effects and in some cases to overdose.

Effects of Valium Use

Short Term Use Effects:

Valium binds to GABA-A receptors in the brain and stimulates the effect of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) on the central nervous system which can temporarily reduce brain activity. Because of this effect, it is considered as a central nervous system depressant. It affects several brain areas including thalamus and hypothalamus as well as limbic system (part of the brain involved with emotions), causing a reduction in anxiety levels.  It also stimulates inhibitory pathways in the cerebral cortex. Valium can also have anticonvulsant properties and is useful in epilepsy treatment. It also induces muscle relaxation through inhibition of the spinal cord synapses.
Because of all the listed effects, Valium reduces anxiety, relaxes muscles and causes sleepiness. Because of these properties, it has the effect of reducing blood pressure, heart rate and breathing frequency.

Long Term Use Effects:

According to medical guidelines, it is not recommended to use Valium longer than four months. Unfortunately, Valium is often abused due to its ability to cause dependence. It is one of the most common causes of chronic use of Valium. Prescribing Valium for a period longer than four months was prohibited in 1988 by the Committee on Safety of Medicines. Despite all the efforts to reduce chronic consumption of Valium, it appears impossible to avoid addiction in all users. Chronic effects of Valium on a body include:

  • hallucinations
  • memory loss and difficulties memorizing
  • problems with the respiratory system
  • heart attack
  • comatose state
  • heart rate reduction
  • lowered blood pressure