Published on 02 July 2022

Valium For Alcohol Withdrawal: Does It Work?

Valium (Diazepam) valium-(diazepam)-to-treat-alcohol-withdrawal
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Many people worldwide are prone to consuming alcohol, whether it's occasionally or addict. If one gets addicted, that person must lower the drinking pattern. Otherwise, it can affect their body negatively.

According to a study, 20% of the US population exhibits alcohol abuse during their lifespan. More than 50% of those with a history of alcohol abuse can show alcohol withdrawal syndrome on discontinuation or reduction in alcohol intake. 

The key to successful withdrawal is to consult a doctor for treatment of the addiction and detox strategies to taper off alcohol. A few ways to get through this are adequate hydration, proper nutrition, family support, and medication. Benzodiazepines (BZDs) class of medication treats such alcohol withdrawal syndrome. Know about Valium treating Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome.

What Is Valium?

Valium is used to relieve anxiety and control agitation caused by alcohol withdrawal. It is also used with other medications to control muscle spasms and spasticity caused by certain neurological disorders. 

These disorders consist of:

  • Cerebral palsy: A condition that causes difficulty with movement and balance.
  • Paraplegia: Inability to move parts of the body, abnormal muscle contractions.
  • Stiff-man syndrome: A rare disorder with muscle rigidity and stiffness. 

Valium is used along with other medications to control seizures. Valium belongs to a class of drugs called benzodiazepines. 

How Does Valium Work?

Valium works by focussing on calming abnormal overactivity in the brain. Scientifically, Valium binds to benzodiazepine receptors that exhibit allosteric changes. It makes it easier for GABA to attach to its receptor and stimulate activity in the central nervous system neurotransmitter. 

This triggers the opening of chloride channels, facilitating chloride influx and improving postsynaptic neuron inhibition. This process causes hyperpolarization of the postsynaptic membranes, leading to an increased response to GABA and heightened CNS depression. Valium's anticonvulsant effects may be due to its ability to bind to both the GABA receptor and voltage-gated sodium channels.

What Is The Half-Life Of Valium?

Every medication you consume will take a stipulated time to work in the body. It also leaves the body at a particular time, which differs from person to person and the dosage they have been recommended. 

Valium is a long-acting benzodiazepine with a half-life that affects brain chemistry and stays in the body for a considerable time (48 hours). Its metabolites may require a longer duration to undergo metabolism. 

What Is Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome?

Alcohol withdrawal syndrome(AWS) is a symptom that occurs in an individual on abrupt discontinuation or significant reduction in alcohol intake after long-term dependence. The symptoms can range from mild to severe and, if untreated, can lead to death. Psychological, social, and environmental factors strongly impact alcohol-drinking behavior. 

What Causes Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome?

Excessive alcohol alters the normal functioning of the brain associated with experiencing pleasure, making decisions, and behavioral control. Over time, the central nervous system can no longer tolerate the lack of alcohol. 

When such individuals stop drinking or reduce alcohol intake significantly, it causes an alcohol withdrawal syndrome. The withdrawal symptoms are categorized into mild, moderate, and severe symptoms.

  • Mild symptoms occur within 6 to 12 hours, including tremors, headache, nausea, vomiting, anxiety, high blood pressure, increased heart rate, and excessive sweating.
  • Moderate symptoms occur within 12 to 24 hours, including alcohol withdrawal, seizures, and hallucinations.
  • The most severe form of alcohol withdrawal syndrome is delirium tremens within 24 to 48 hours of alcohol withdrawal. The symptoms consist of extreme confusion, hallucinations, and increased excitability. If untreated, it can lead to complications such as cardiac collapse and stroke which could be life-threatening. The mortality for this condition ranges from 1 to 5 %.

Is Valium Safe To Take For Alcohol Withdrawal?

Management of alcohol withdrawal syndrome should be supervised. Several medications are available to manage this condition, but the most widely used class of drugs are Benzodiazepines, such as Valium.  

Valium 5 mg to 20 mg every 2 to 4 hours or oxazepam 15 to 30 mg 3 to 4 times daily with lower doses in the elderly are the most common choices of most doctors. Changing the amount found in the clinical situation may be preferable to a fixed dose as it can reduce the total amount.

Is Valium Addictive?

The medicine Valium has addiction potential. The Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) indicates that Valium and alprazolam are the two Benzodiazepines with significant addiction potential. Hence, it is available only on prescriptions and should not be stopped abruptly.

There is a general timeline to stop the Valium treatment. The duration, intensity, and symptoms of Valium withdrawal will vary from person to person.

Possible Side Effects of Valium

The side effects of Valium would differ from person to person. Some might suffer common symptoms, others might suffer severe side effects, and there are chances of no side effects. 

Common Side Effects Severe Side Effects
Muscle weakness Severe Drowsiness
Drowsiness Severe Dizziness
Tiredness breathlessness
Tremor Paranoia
Headache Confusion
Constipation Seizures

It will fade over time if you suffer from common side effects, but you should consult the doctor as soon as possible regarding severe side effects. This will prevent you from not risking your own life.

Precautions Of Valium

Important guidelines that should be followed are the precautions that should be followed before consuming the drug. It has to be advised by the doctor or any general practitioner who has recommended or prescribed Valium for the Alcohol withdrawal syndrome.

You should not take the drug:

  • If you have a mental illness or depression.  
  • If you have a lung condition or breathing difficulties or suffer from any liver or kidney disorder. 
  • If you take any other medications or pills, always get a prior consultation from your physician.
  • If you take illegal drugs bought "on the str" et." 
  • If you an "e pregnant or breastfeeding 

How Should One Take Valium? 

Valium is a prescription medicine. So, as you all know, it needs to be prescribed by a certified doctor. One cannot buy Valium on their own from the store. If you have further questions after starting the treatment, speak to your doctor or pharmacist. 

Never change the dose yourself. The initial amount will be four times a day, which should be equally spaced every four to six hours every day. Constantly take your medicine with a whole glass of water.

Valium Dosage

During treatment, you will be evaluated every day for the first few days for alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Alterations to the dose of Valium will depend upon assessments. The doctor may even take a blood test to check that your liver works correctly, and you may be breathalyzed. 

  • Starting dose: 10-20mg four times a day. These conditions may vary according to patient assessment. 
  • After a time, the dose will be gradually reduced every one to two days over five to ten days. 
  • A short course of treatment will not usually continue longer than two weeks. 

Drug Interactions

It is essential to know when you should consume the below-mentioned drugs. If you consume Valium for alcohol withdrawal syndrome, it is necessary not to take medicines such as:

  • Anticonvulsants other than benzodiazepines
  • Neuroleptics
  • Beta-blockers and clonidine
  • Magnesium
  • Vitamin B6 
  • Nicotinic acid

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Bottom Line From Practical Anxiety Solutions: 

Alcohol use disorder is a significant health problem around the world. Along with the use of alcohol, there has been an increasing burden of alcohol withdrawal syndrome(AWS). Prompt and early management of AWS is required to prevent severe complications and fatality. 

Medications such as Valium remain the first line of treatment for AWS. Such individuals should receive treatment only under the supervision of a physician to avoid any unwanted side effects and rec"  give appropriate doses "f the medication.