"What are benzodiazepines, and how do they work?
Benzodiazepines are a class of drugs primarily used for treating anxiety, but they also are effective in treating several other conditions. The exact mechanism of action of benzodiaz"...
Side effects most commonly reported were drowsiness, fatigue, muscle weakness, and ataxia. The following have also been reported:
Gastrointestinal System: constipation, nausea, gastrointestinal disturbances
Special Senses: blurred vision, diplopia, dizziness
Cardiovascular System: hypotension
Psychiatric and Paradoxical Reactions: stimulation, restlessness, acute hyperexcited states, anxiety, agitation, aggressiveness, irritability, rage, hallucinations, psychoses, delusions, increased muscle spasticity, insomnia, sleep disturbances, and nightmares. Inappropriate behavior and other adverse behavioral effects have been reported when using benzodiazepines. Should these occur, use of the drug should be discontinued. They are more likely to occur in children and in the elderly.
Skin and Appendages: skin reactions
Laboratories: elevated transaminases and alkaline phosphatase
Other: changes in salivation, including dry mouth, hypersalivation
Antegrade amnesia may occur using therapeutic dosages, the risk increasing at higher dosages. Amnestic effects may be associated with inappropriate behavior.
Minor changes in EEG patterns, usually low-voltage fast activity, have been observed in patients during and after Valium therapy and are of no known significance.
Injury, Poisoning and Procedural Complications
There have been reports of falls and fractures in benzodiazepine users. The risk is increased in those taking concomitant sedatives (including alcohol), and in the elderly.
Drug Abuse And Dependence
Diazepam is subject to Schedule IV control under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. Abuse and dependence of benzodiazepines have been reported. Addiction-prone individuals (such as drug addicts or alcoholics) should be under careful surveillance when receiving diazepam or other psychotropic agents because of the predisposition of such patients to habituation and dependence. Once physical dependence to benzodiazepines has developed, termination of treatment will be accompanied by withdrawal symptoms. The risk is more pronounced in patients on long-term therapy.
Withdrawal symptoms, similar in character to those noted with barbiturates and alcohol have occurred following abrupt discontinuance of diazepam. These withdrawal symptoms may consist of tremor, abdominal and muscle cramps, vomiting, sweating, headache, muscle pain, extreme anxiety, tension, restlessness, confusion and irritability. In severe cases, the following symptoms may occur: derealization, depersonalization, hyperacusis, numbness and tingling of the extremities, hypersensitivity to light, noise and physical contact, hallucinations or epileptic seizures. The more severe withdrawal symptoms have usually been limited to those patients who had received excessive doses over an extended period of time. Generally milder withdrawal symptoms (e.g., dysphoria and insomnia) have been reported following abrupt discontinuance of benzodiazepines taken continuously at therapeutic levels for several months. Consequently, after extended therapy, abrupt discontinuation should generally be avoided and a gradual dosage tapering schedule followed.
Chronic use (even at therapeutic doses) may lead to the development of physical dependence: discontinuation of the therapy may result in withdrawal or rebound phenomena.
A transient syndrome whereby the symptoms that led to treatment with Valium recur in an enhanced form. This may occur upon discontinuation of treatment. It may be accompanied by other reactions including mood changes, anxiety, and restlessness.
Since the risk of withdrawal phenomena and rebound phenomena is greater after abrupt discontinuation of treatment, it is recommended that the dosage be decreased gradually.
Read the Valium (diazepam tablets) Side Effects Center for a complete guide to possible side effects
Centrally Acting Agents
If Valium is to be combined with other centrally acting agents, careful consideration should be given to the pharmacology of the agents employed particularly with compounds that may potentiate or be potentiated by the action of Valium, such as phenothiazines, antipsychotics, anxiolytics/sedatives, hypnotics, anticonvulsants, narcotic analgesics, anesthetics, sedative antihistamines, narcotics, barbiturates, MAO inhibitors and other antidepressants.
Concomitant use with alcohol is not recommended due to enhancement of the sedative effect.
Diazepam peak concentrations are 30% lower when antacids are administered concurrently. However, there is no effect on the extent of absorption. The lower peak concentrations appear due to a slower rate of absorption, with the time required to achieve peak concentrations on average 20 -25 minutes greater in the presence of antacids. However, this difference was not statistically significant.
Compounds Which Inhibit Certain Hepatic Enzymes
There is a potentially relevant interaction between diazepam and compounds which inhibit certain hepatic enzymes (particularly cytochrome P450 3A and 2C19). Data indicate that these compounds influence the pharmacokinetics of diazepam and may lead to increased and prolonged sedation. At present, this reaction is known to occur with cimetidine, ketoconazole, fluvoxamine, fluoxetine, and omeprazole.
There have also been reports that the metabolic elimination of phenytoin is decreased by diazepam.
Read the Valium Drug Interactions Center for a complete guide to possible interactions
Last reviewed on RxList: 12/2/2013
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.
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