Valium, also known by its generic name diazepam, is a benzodiazepine-derived medication that’s used to treat anxiety, seizures, and alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
There is no known lethal dose of diazepam in humans.
However, in animal testing, the following lethal doses were found:
- rats: 1,200 milligrams per kilogram (mg/kg)
- dogs: 1,000 mg/kg
- mice: 700 mg/kg
Has Anyone Died From Valium (Diazepam) Overdose?
Fatal Valium overdose is extremely rare. In a survey of 914 benzodiazepine-related deaths in North America, only two cases involved diazepam alone.
In instances in which people have intentionally ingested up to 2,000 mg of diazepam, the patients recovered within 48 hours without any serious complications.
Most cases involving a fatal Valium overdose also involve other substances such as opioids, alcohol, or other central nervous system depressants.
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Lethal Consequences Of Combining Valium With Alcohol Or Opioids
While it’s very rare for a person to experience a fatal overdose from Valium alone, it is more likely when combined with alcohol or opioids.
Diazepam is used in alcohol detox. The medication aids in the process of alcohol withdrawal by relieving agitation, tremors, hallucinations, and more.
However, drinking alcohol while using Valium enhances the effects of both substances, increasing the toxicity levels. This can lead to severe central nervous system depression.
Mixing alcohol and Valium can cause:
- slowed heartbeat
- respiratory depression
- loss of consciousness
Taking diazepam in combination with opioids also increases the risk of respiratory depression.
Symptoms And Signs Of A Valium (Diazepam) Overdose
Diazepam is a relatively safe medication because the toxic-to-therapeutic ratio of benzodiazepines is very high.
A toxic-to-therapeutic ratio compares the blood concentration at which a drug is toxic with the concentration at which the drug is effective.
However, if you or a loved one use Valium, it’s important to be aware of the signs of overdose.
A mild overdose may manifest itself through:
- lack of alertness
- rapid eye movements
More serious overdoses may involve:
- labored breathing
- bluish-colored lips and fingernails
- ataxia (recognizable through slurred speech, stumbling, and impaired motor skills)
- hypotonia (decreased muscle tone)
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- Clinical Info — Therapeutic Index (TI)
- International Programme on Chemical Safety (IPCS) ICHEM — Diazepam
- National Center for Biotechnology Information — Diazepam
- U.S. National Library of Medicine — Effects of oxycodone and diazepam alone and in combination on operant nociception
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus — Diazepam overdose