Chapter 8
  1. Freedom from Substance Abuse

209. If You Take Valium, Beware

Diazepam (better known as Valium) was developed as an antianxiety drug for people under stress. And it’s still an effective drug if used properly.  Chronic use, however, can carry serious risks, including addiction. People who stop taking Valium after more than three to four weeks can experience the following withdrawal symptoms.

  1. Increased, uncontrollable anxiety.

  2. Jitteriness, nervousness, and tremors.

  3. Distorted senses of taste and smell.

  4. Difficulty sleeping.

In short, the drug could leave you worse off than you were before you started taking it. At that point, the best way to withdraw from the drug is to wean yourself away gradually, under a doctor’s supervision. He or she will reduce your dosage over a period of several weeks.

For people who suffer disabling anxiety, Valium can be a useful short-term aid. To avoid dependence, though, keep in mind that:

  1. Only the smallest dose necessary should be taken.

  2. Valium shouldn’t be used for more than three or four weeks.

  3. Once the anxiety-producing circumstances are under control, Valium should be discontinued.

  4. If you’re taking Valium for ongoing anxiety, take “drug holidays” away from the drug for two-day intervals every three or four weeks.

Note: Don’t mix Valium–or other similar anti-anxiety drugs–and alcohol. And don’t take Valium if you’re pregnant or think you might be pregnant; it can damage a growing fetus.