Diazepam (Valium)

Other name: Valium

Diazepam is sometimes used in the treatment of spasticity and spasms if other medications haven’t worked. It’s also a treatment for severe anxiety.

Diazepam is also known as Valium – this particular brand is no longer available in the UK.

How do I take diazepam?

Diazepam is taken by mouth (orally) as tablets or a liquid solution.

Treatment usually starts with a small dose that can be increased in steps until it is most effective with minimal side effects.

Diazepam can be used on its own or in combination with other drugs. It can be taken prior to sleep if spasms are particularly troublesome at night.

It’s possible to become dependent on this medication, therefore diazepam should not be used for more than four weeks. Stopping treatment suddenly may cause withdrawal symptoms. You should talk to your doctor before stopping treatment, and plan a gradual reduction of the dose.

What side effects could I get with diazepam?

Side effects include:

  • drowsiness
  • fatigue
  • unsteadiness
  • feeling less alert
  • lack of coordination.

Diazepam should not be taken with alcohol. It can also interact with antihistamines, sedatives, tranquillisers, and prescription drugs for pain and sleeping problems. If in doubt, talk to your doctor before taking clonazepam.

This medication may affect your ability to drive safely, particularly if it makes you feel sleepy or affects your coordination. Do not drive if clonazepam affects you in this way.

Diazepam is not suitable for people who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

How does diazepam work?

Diazepam belongs to a group of drugs called benzodiazepines. These slow down the transmission of messages between nerve cells, helping with muscle relaxation.

Diazepam research

Research has compared diazepam with some of the current standard treatments for spasticity – baclofen and tizanidine. It found that all the drugs had a similar effect on the reduction of spasticity.

Find out more

Groves L, et al.
Tizanidine treatment of spasticity: a meta-analysis of controlled, double-blind, comparative studies with baclofen and diazepam.
Advances in Therapy 1998;15(4):241-251.
Summary (link is external)
Otero-Romero S, et al.
Pharmacological management of spasticity in multiple sclerosis: Systematic review and consensus paper.
Multiple Sclerosis Journal 2016;22(11):1386 –1396.
Full article (link is external)
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