Diazepam, commonly known as Valium, is a drug used to treat a number of conditions, including alcohol withdrawal symptoms, anxiety, muscle spasms, seizures and insomnia. Classed as a benzodiazepine, Diazepam can become addictive if taken for an extended period, but the drug is not an opiate.

Find out more about Diazepam, benzodiazepine drugs, how they are used and more here.


What is Diazepam?

Diazepam is a benzodiazepine, a medication commonly used to treat anxiety disorders, muscle spasms, seizures, and alcohol withdrawal symptoms. The drug works by enhancing the effects of the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) neurotransmitter in the brain.

Other types of benzodiazepine drug names include Xanax, Valium, Klonopin, and Alprazolam.

Diazepam has a calming effect on the nervous system, which is why Diazepam is often prescribed for short-term relief of symptoms due to its sedative properties. Diazepam is not an opioid and is commonly used in people with alcohol or opioid addictions during the detox process.

However, it can also be habit-forming if used for an extended period or in higher doses than prescribed. It is important to take Diazepam exactly as prescribed by a healthcare professional and to follow instructions closely to avoid the potential risk of addiction and side effects.


Is Diazepam an Opiate?

Diazepam is not an opioid but is instead a type of benzodiazepine drug. Synthetic opioids are painkiller drugs that have caused a recent public health problem due to their addictive qualities and the rising number of opioid overdose deaths that have occurred, especially in the US.

Although both opioids and benzodiazepine drugs are prescribed to treat health or pain conditions, opioid drugs and Diazepam can all become addictive if drug abuse occurs or a person takes the medication for longer than is recommended.

Diazepam is commonly used to help alleviate withdrawal symptoms in rehab settings and can be useful for a number of other conditions, but caution should be taken in people who use it. If a physical dependence on the drug has developed, benzodiazepine withdrawal and other treatments may be required to overcome reliance on the drug.

What Are Prescription Opioids?

Prescription opioids are different to Diazepam and are prescription-only painkillers. Substance abuse of opioids can result in severe drug addiction, which is why they are only prescribed in severe cases. Common types of opioid medication include:

  • Oxycodone
  • Naloxone
  • Hydrocodone
  • Morphine
  • Methadone


Common Uses of Diazepam

Diazepam can be used for a number of conditions, including:

Anxiety Medication

Diazepam can be used to reduce the overactivity in certain areas of the brain associated with anxiety and poor mental health, such as the amygdala. By reducing the overactivity in these areas, Diazepam can alleviate symptoms of anxiety, such as excessive worry, tension, restlessness, and physical symptoms, such as muscle tension or palpitations.

Muscle Relaxant

Diazepam is commonly used as a muscle relaxant due to its ability to calm muscle spasms and reduce muscle tension. The drug works by enhancing the effects of the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) neurotransmitter in the brain and spinal cord, leading to a reduction in muscle tension and spasms.

Anticonvulsant (for seizures)

Diazepam and other benzodiazepines are commonly used for people with epilepsy as a rescue medication when required in emergencies. Benzodiazepines are meant to rapidly stop seizures, whether preventative in emergencies or during a seizure whilst under the care of healthcare providers.

Diazepam is not used as a long-term epilepsy medication but can be beneficial in emergencies.

Alcohol and Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms

A common use of Diazepam is as a medication during the alcohol detox process to help manage symptoms of withdrawal. Diazepam can help alleviate common withdrawal symptoms such as insomnia and sleep problems, sweating and anxiety.


Is Diazepam Safe to Use?

As the drug is not an opiate, it is not widely known to have as high a risk of addiction developing as opioid medications. However, if Diazepam is abused or consumed for long periods of time, the drug can become addictive to users and should not be consumed for longer than 4 weeks unless directed by a doctor.

As there is a risk of addiction, Diazepam is prescription-only and needs to be consumed directly as a doctor prescribes it in order to be used safely. Painkiller opioids can become highly addictive if not used correctly and should be consumed with caution.

Side Effects of Diazepam

Taking benzodiazepines such as Diazepam can cause a number of withdrawal symptoms, with the most common being memory problems. Other common side effects include confusion, feeling drowsy or sleepy, as well as shaky hands and poor coordination.

Although uncommon, there are also a number of more serious side effects, such as hallucinations and delusions, significant mood changes, and yellow skin/eyes.

If you are concerned about any side effects of Diazepam, get in touch with your doctor or pharmacist to discuss your options.


Risk of Diazepam Addiction and Physical Dependence

The long-term use or abuse of Diazepam carries a risk of addiction, especially when taken for an extended period or at higher doses than prescribed. Diazepam has the potential to cause physical dependence and tolerance to the drug, which leads to a higher dose required in order to achieve the same results over time.

Long-term use or misuse of Diazepam can lead to addiction, which involves cravings for the drug, compulsive use despite negative consequences, and difficulty stopping or reducing consumption.

Abruptly stopping Diazepam after prolonged use can also result in withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety, irritability, insomnia, muscle spasms, and seizures, which can further reinforce dependence and result in relapses.

To minimise the risk of addiction and withdrawal, it’s important to consume Diazepam only as prescribed by a healthcare professional and use it for the shortest duration necessary to manage symptoms effectively.

You should not consume Diazepam for longer than 4 weeks in order to reduce the risk of Diazepam addiction and abuse.


Are Opioid Drugs Dangerous?

Although you can get an opioid prescription, these types of drugs have a high risk of physical dependence and opioid overdose deaths in those who abuse the drug.

If you consume opioids and feel that you have developed an addiction, get in touch with professionals to start your recovery journey. Opioid withdrawal can be difficult to complete without medical support and professionals, so seek help today.

Get in touch to learn more about our drug rehab and how we can help today. You can also call 0800 012 6088 for more information.


  • [1] commonly used to treat anxiety disorders - https://www.nhs.uk/medicines/diazepam/
  • [2] You should not consume Diazepam for longer than 4 weeks - https://www.nhs.uk/medicines/diazepam/common-questions-about-diazepam/#:~:text=To%20reduce%20the%20risk%20of,problems%20with%20alcohol%20or%20drugs.