Addiction expert are warning that ballooning illicit trade in tranquillizer popularly known as “mother’s little helper” is now a significant factor behind many drug-related deaths. They say diazepam, once prescribed to anxious housewives in the1970’s and better known by its former brand name of Valium, is being used recreationally by a younger generation unaware of its potentially lethal side-effect.
Problem is becoming a major problem for health services therefore, doctors and pharmacists to be better informed about the danger of the drug.
On taking a Valium (diazepam) a person feels relaxed, and somehow happy. Unfortunately the drug depresses mental activities, for example driving skills. In some individuals, especially in children, the elderly, and people with some degree of brain damage a valium (diazepam) can cause an aggressive outburst, or general aggressiveness. On increasing the dose of valium (diazepam), drowsiness or sedation develops. Some people feel the sedative effect even a small dose of a valium (diazepam).
Effects of valium (diazepam) may last for 8 hours or longer.
Usually valium (diazepam) taken alone do not cause death, unless taken together with alcohol, phenobarbitone or other drugs.
Long term effects:
When an individual has been taking valium (diazepam) for six weeks or more, both physical and psychological dependence develops. Due to dependence, withdrawal symptoms will be experienced on abrupt cessation of using valium (diazepam).These withdrawal symptoms are anxiety, nausea, appetite disturbance, sweating, tremors, sweating, restlessness and convulsion. Because of repeated withdrawal symptoms like appetite disturbance, in an individual dependent on valium (diazepam), weight loss is common.
Long term use of valium (diazepam) causes impairment of memory, dizziness and unstable gait.
Medicinal uses of valium (diazepam):
- Antianxiety: With chronic administration relief of anxiety is maintained, but drowsiness wanes off due to development of tolerance.
- Sleep: In general, valium (diazepam), it is hasten onset of sleep, reduce intermittent awakening and increase total sleep time (especially in those who have a short sleep span).
- Muscle relaxant: Valium (diazepam) has more marked muscle relaxant property. Very high doses depress neuromuscular transmission.
- Anticonvulsant: the valium(diazepam) has more prominent anticonvulsant activity than other drugs in the group of Benzodiazepones. The valium (diazepam) is highly effective for short-term use in status-epilepticus, but their utility in long-term treatment of epilepsy is limited by development of tolerance to the anticonvulsant action.
- Given valium (diazepam) injection causes analgesia. In contrast to phenorbabitone, valium (diazepam) does not produce hyperalgesia.
- Other actions: The valium (diazepam) decreases nocturnal gastric secretion and prevents stress ulcers, valium (diazepam) do not significantly affect bowel movement.
- Short-lasting coronary dilatation is produced by I.V(injection), valium(diazepam).
The valium (diazepam) should be avoided in patients with pre-existing central nervous system (CNS) depression or coma, respiratory depression, acute pulmonary insufficiency, myasthenia gravis, or sleep apnoea, and used with care in those with chronic pulmorary insufficiency. Valium (diazepam) should be given with care to elderly or debilitated patients who may be more prone to adverse effects. The sedative effects of the valium (diazepam) are most marked during the first few days of use; affected patients should not drive or operate machinery. The valium(diazepam) is not appropriate for the treatment of chronic psychosis or for phobic or obsessional states. Dependence characterized by a withdrawal syndrome may develop after regular use of valium (diazepam), even in therapeutic doses for short periods because of the risk of dependence, valium(diazepam) should be used with caution in patients with a history of alcohol or drug abuse.
Drowsiness, sedation (sleeping), muscle weakness and ataxia are the most frequent adverse effects. Less frequent effects including vertigo, headache, confusion, mental depression, slurred speech or dysarthria, changes in libido, tremor, visual disturbances, urinary retention or incontinence, gastro-intestinal disturbances, changes in salivation and amnesia. Jaundice, blood disorders and hypersensitivity reactions have been reported rarely. Treatment is generally symptomatic.
Enhanced sedation or respiratory and cardiovascular depression may occur if valium(diazepam) is given with other drugs that have Central Nervous System(CNS) depressant properties; this include alcohol, antidepressants, sedative antihistamines, antipsychotic, general anaesthetics, other hypnotics or sedative. and opiods analgesics. The sedative effect of valium (diazepam) may also be enhanced by cisapride.