Diazepam is the generic name for Valium, prescription drug doctors prescribe to treat symptoms of anxiety disorders.
Anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
Valium may also be prescribed to treat the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal known as “delirium tremens.”
Additionally, the drug can treat muscle spasms from injury, inflammation, or nerve disorders.
Doctors sometimes prescribe Valium along with other medications to treat convulsions or seizures.
Valium belongs to a class of drugs called benzodiazepines, which work by increasing the effects of GABA, a neurotransmitter that moderates the activity of nerve signals in the brain.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved diazepam in 1963 under the brand name Valium for the Roche drug company.
In 1985, the FDA approved generic diazepam, manufactured today by several drug companies.
Benzodiazepines are widely prescribed drugs: According to reports in The New York Times and elsewhere, U.S. doctors issued more than 50 million prescriptions for Valium each year during the 1970s, when it was America’s most popular prescription drug.
Abuse of benzodiazepines, especially in combination with opiate painkillers, has become increasingly common in recent years.
The number of people admitted to treatment programs for abusing this drug combination increased nearly 570 percent from 2000 to 2010, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).