As an anti anxiety drug, Librium was a fantastic success. Three years later, in 1963, Valium appeared on the industry. Not just the leading hitter from the benzodiazepine lineup, this drug also become one of their best selling of pharmaceuticals ever! Valium (diazepam) extended its therapeutic uses beyond stress to sleeplessness, muscle aches, acute alcohol withdrawal, and preoperatve sedation, and, via ultrasound, to control status epilepticus, a life-threatening condition where seizures presist without let up for over fifty minutes. For many of these circumstances, it symbolized the initial or seconf medication of choice.
The appearance of Valium and related benzodiazepines spelled the end of this decades-long reign of phenobarbital and its barbiturate cousins. In contrast to this barbiturates, Valium directed less drowsiness at normal therapeutic doses, thus not impairing mental or physical function. More importantly, Valium has a wide interval between a secure therapeutic dose and the toxic consequences caused by overdose.
But, even safe medication have limitations. After taking overdose — in sharp contrast to the barbiturates — the benzodiazepines very rarely lead to death, except when taken in conjunction with large amount of alcohol or other depressants. This was sadly the case for Heath Ledger (1979-2008), who played leading roles in the films Brokeback Mountain (2005) and The Dark Knight (2008). His passing, only month prior to the release of this latter movie, was ruled an accidental overdose caused by a deadly combination of many narcotics and benzodiazepines, including Valium and an antihistamine.
The relative safety of Valium resulted in some false sense of security that it could be utilized without risk. Maybe not surprisingly, when doses escalated over extended periods, dependency developed. However, we now know that when Valium and associated drugs are used at the regular doses for a period of more than six weeks, dependence still develops. If the medication is suddenly removed or the dose precipitously reduced, such withdrawal symptoms as extreme stress and panic attacks may occur. These generally appear within 24-48 hours of the last dose and may persist, with reduced intensity, for as much as a year. So-called benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome is particularly intense for users stopping Xanax.
How This Medication Works
Intended Therapeuetic Effect(s): Relief of mild to moderate anxiety and nervous tension,
without major sedation.Location of Drug Action(s): Throught are the limbic system of the mind, among the centres that affect psychological equilibrium.
Present thinking is that this medication may lower the activity of certain parts of the limbic system.