Diazepam is used to treat anxiety, alcohol withdrawal, and seizures. It is also used to relieve muscle spasms and to provide sedation before medical procedures. This medication works by calming the brain and nerves. Diazepam belongs to a class of drugs known as benzodiazepines.
How to use Diazepam
Take this medication by mouth with or without food as directed by your doctor. If you are using the liquid form of this medication, carefully measure the dose using a special measuring device/spoon. Do not use a household spoon because you may not get the correct dose.
If you are using the concentrated solution, use the medicine dropper provided and mix the measured dose with a small amount of liquid or soft food (such as applesauce, pudding). Take all of the mixture right away. Do not store the mixture for later use.
The dosage is based on your medical condition, age, and response to treatment. Do not increase your dose or use this drug more often or for longer than prescribed. Your condition will not improve any faster, and your risk of side effects will increase. Properly stop the medication when so directed.
If you suddenly stop using this medication, you may have withdrawal symptoms (such as shaking, abdominal/muscle cramps, vomiting, sweating, anxiety, restlessness, seizures). To help prevent withdrawal, your doctor may lower your dose slowly. Withdrawal is more likely if you have used diazepam for a long time or in high doses. Tell your doctor or pharmacist right away if you have withdrawal.
When this medication is used for a long time, it may not work as well. Talk with your doctor if this medication stops working well.
Though it helps many people, this medication may sometimes cause addiction. This risk may be higher if you have a substance use disorder (such as overuse of or addiction to drugs/alcohol). Take this medication exactly as prescribed to lower the risk of addiction. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more details.
Avoid eating grapefruit or drinking grapefruit juice while using this medication unless your doctor or pharmacist says you may do so safely. Grapefruit can increase the chance of side effects with this medicine. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more details.
If directed by your doctor, take this medication regularly to get the most benefit from it. To help you remember, take it at the same time(s) each day.
Diazepam Side Effects
See also Warning section.
Remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.
Tell your doctor right away if you have any serious side effects, including: mental/mood changes (such as memory problems, agitation, hallucinations, confusion, restlessness, depression), trouble speaking, trouble walking, muscle weakness, shaking (tremors), trouble urinating, yellowing eyes/skin, signs of infection (such as sore throat that doesn’t go away, fever, chills).
Get medical help right away if you have any very serious side effects, including: slow/shallow breathing.
A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, get medical help right away if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.
This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.
Before taking diazepam, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or to other benzodiazepines (such as oxazepam, temazepam); or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details.
Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of: a certain muscle disease (myasthenia gravis), lung/breathing problems (such as COPD, sleep apnea), mental/mood disorders (such as depression, thoughts of suicide, psychosis), personal or family history of a substance use disorder (such as overuse of or addiction to drugs/alcohol), glaucoma, liver disease, kidney disease.
This drug may make you dizzy or drowsy or blur your vision. Alcohol or marijuana (cannabis) can make you more dizzy or drowsy. Do not drive, use machinery, or do anything that needs alertness or clear vision until you can do it safely. Avoid alcoholic beverages. Talk to your doctor if you are using marijuana (cannabis).
Some liquid products may contain alcohol. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about using this product safely.
For some children, instead of having a calming effect, diazepam may have the opposite effect, causing mental/mood changes (such as agitation, hallucinations, restlessness).
Older adults may be more sensitive to the side effects of this drug, especially drowsiness and loss of coordination. These side effects can increase the risk of falling. For some older adults, instead of having a calming effect, diazepam may have the opposite effect, causing mental/mood changes (such as agitation, hallucinations, restlessness).
This medication is not recommended for use during pregnancy. It may harm an unborn baby. If you become pregnant or think you may be pregnant, tell your doctor right away. Consult your doctor for more details.
See also Warning and How to Use sections.
Drug interactions may change how your medications work or increase your risk for serious side effects. This document does not contain all possible drug interactions. Keep a list of all the products you use (including prescription/nonprescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicines without your doctor’s approval.
The risk of serious side effects (such as slow/shallow breathing, severe drowsiness/dizziness) may be increased if this medication is taken with other products that may also cause drowsiness or breathing problems. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking other products such as opioid pain or cough relievers (such as codeine, hydrocodone), alcohol, marijuana (cannabis), other drugs for sleep or anxiety (such as alprazolam, lorazepam, zolpidem), muscle relaxants (such as carisoprodol, cyclobenzaprine), or antihistamines (such as cetirizine, diphenhydramine).
This medication may interfere with certain lab tests, possibly causing false test results. Make sure lab personnel and all your doctors know you use this drug.
A benzodiazepine with anticonvulsant, anxiolytic, sedative, muscle relaxant, and amnesic properties and a long duration of action. Its actions are mediated by enhancement of gamma-aminobutyric acid activity. It is used in the treatment of severe anxiety disorders, as a hypnotic in the short-term management of insomnia, as a sedative and premedicant, as an anticonvulsant, and in the management of alcohol withdrawal syndrome. (From Martindale, The Extra Pharmacopoeia, 30th ed, p589)
Given diazepam’s storied history as a commonly used and effective medication for a variety of indications, contemporary advancements in the formulation and administration of the agent include the development and US FDA approval of an auto-injectable formulation for the rapid treatment of uncontrolled seizures in 2015-2016 7. Combining diazepam, a proven effective therapy for acute repetitive seizures, with an auto-injector designed for subcutaneous administration that is quickly and easily administered offers the potential for complete, consistent drug absorption and rapid onset of effect 7. This current development is subsequently an important addition to the rescue therapy tool chest for patients with epilepsy 7.
TypeSmall MoleculeGroupsApproved, Illicit, Investigational, Vet approvedStructure
- Average: 284.74
- Chemical Formula
In general, diazepam is useful in the symptomatic management of mild to moderate degrees of anxiety in conditions dominated by tension, excitation, agitation, fear, or aggressiveness such as may occur in psychoneurosis, anxiety reactions due to stress conditions, and anxiety states with somatic expression.10
Moreover, in acute alcoholic withdrawal, diazepam may be useful in the symptomatic relief of acute agitation, tremor, and impending acute delirium tremens.10
Furthermore, diazepam is a useful adjunct for the relief of skeletal muscle spasm due to reflex spasm to local pathologies, such as inflammation of the muscle and joints or secondary to trauma; spasticity caused by upper motor neuron disorders, such as cerebral palsy and paraplegia; athetosis and the rare “stiff man syndrome”.10
Particular label information from the United Kingdom also lists particular age-specific indications, including for adults: (1) The short-term relief (2-4 weeks) only, of anxiety which is severe, disabling, or subjecting the individual to unacceptable distress, occurring alone or in association with insomnia or short-term psychosomatic, organic or psychotic illness, (2) cerebral palsy, (3) muscle spasm, (4) as an adjunct to certain types of epilepsy (eg. myoclonus), (5) symptomatic treatment of acute alcohol withdrawal, (6) as oral premedication for the nervous dental patient, and (7) for premedication before surgery.6
In the same UK label information, diazepam is indicated in children for: (1) control of tension and irritability in cerebral spasticity in selected cases, (2) as an adjunct to the control of muscle spasm in tetanus, and for (3) oral premedication.6
A diazepam nasal spray is indicated in patients 6 years and older to treat intermittent, stereotypic episodes of frequent seizure activity that are different than the patient’s usual seizure pattern.8