Valium (or diazepam) is an anti-anxiety drug found in the family of drugs called benzodiazepines, home to Xanaz (alprazolam), Ativan (lorazepam), and Klonopin (clonazepam) among others. Valium is used to help treat and manage anxiety disorders as well as agitation, alcohol withdrawal, and seizures. The drug works by enhancing the effects of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)—a neurotransmitter—in the brain in order to produce a calming effect.

Valium (diazepam) was developed by the Swiss pharmaceutical company Hoffmann-La Roche in the early 1960s and was approved for use in 1963. It was the second benzodiazepine to be invented by Dr. Leo Sternbach and was two and a half times more effective then its predecessor Librium. Sales of valium quickly skyrocketed and it became the top-selling drug in the United States from 1969 to 1982, reaching its peak in 1978 when 2.3 billion tablets were sold.

Before taking Valium, it is important to share your complete medical history with your doctor. Certain medications can negatively interact with Valium, so it is imperative that your physician is aware of all the drugs you currently take before prescribing valium. You should not use Valium if you are allergic to diazepam or if you have liver disease, a breathing problem, sleep apnea, or if you are pregnant as it can cause birth defects to an unborn baby. Do not drink alcohol while taking valium. Valium may be habit forming and should only used as your doctor has prescribed. Do not share the medication with others and keep it in a secure location, especially away from children and individuals with a history of drug abuse.

Since Valium is habit forming, the medication should only be used for short-term therapy. Individuals who are prescribed the drug for long periods of time have a higher chance of experiencing withdrawal symptoms once they discontinue taking the drug. Withdrawal symptoms include sweating, trouble sleeping, stomach pain, and muscle cramps.

Valium has a range of side effects. Some of the most common ones include: drowsiness, insomnia, impaired motor function, and memory problems. Some serious side effects that require immediate medical attention are: thoughts of suicide, hallucinations, muscle tremors, and flu-like symptoms. If you experience any of the serious symptoms listed above, call your doctor at once.

Valium has the potential for abuse and for many long-term users it can lead to dependence. It is usually taken as a secondary drug of abuse, mainly used to increase the effectiveness of the “high” caused by the primary drug. Overdosing on valium, especially if taken with alcohol, can lead to coma, respiratory failure, and in the most severe instances death.

For more information on valium, consult with your doctor or pharmacist.

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