Trusted Content

Is Valium (Diazepam) A Controlled Substance?

Dr. Richard Foster, LICDC-CS

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Richard Foster, LICDC-CS

March 1, 2019

Valium (diazepam) is classified as a Schedule IV controlled substance because of its abuse potential and risk for physical and psychological dependence.

Valium (diazepam) belongs to a class of drugs known as benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepines are “controlled substances” which are usually prescribed to assist individuals with anxiety and seizure disorders.

There are several levels of controlled substances but benzodiazepines, like Valium, are considered Schedule IV controlled substances.

What Is A Controlled Substance?

Throughout history, the United States has struggled with substance abuse. Wanting to identify the abuse potential for specific medications, Congress enacted the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) of 1970, as part of a comprehensive plan to prevent future misuse of legal and illegal substances.

The CSA mandates that the companies who manufacture drugs, the distributors such as pharmacies, and health care providers work to ensure the efficient delivery of controlled substances identified within the five schedules under the Act.

What The “Schedules” Of Controlled Substances Mean

Each medication controlled by the CSA is classified under one of five schedules. Each “Schedule” aims to organize drugs in order of their potential for abuse, medical value, and safety standards. Schedule I drugs are considered the most dangerous decreasing in potential danger to Schedule V.

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Why Is Valium (Diazepam) A Controlled Substance?

Because Valium (diazepam) is a benzodiazepine, it is classified as a Schedule IV controlled substance. Substances under the Schedule IV classification are considered to have a lower potential for abuse, but still carry inherent risks when misused.

Substances listed as Schedule IV are identified as such because abusing the drug can lead to limited physical or psychological dependence relative to drugs or other substances labeled as Schedule III.

How Are Controlled Substances Determined?

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) take into account various studies on a medication’s effectiveness and risks when determining which drugs are safe and which are not.

Any drug entering the market must undergo a review, whether it be a new pharmaceutical or a popular illegal street drug. First, the DEA determines if a drug or substance can be abused, or used for a purpose other than intended. If the answer is “yes” then the drug will proceed through the scheduling system.

Consequences Of Abusing A Controlled Substance Like Valium

Abusing Valium (diazepam) can negatively influence multiple aspects of an individual’s life. Over time, Valium abuse can affect someone’s physical and mental health and significantly impact the way someone thinks and feels.

Depending on the situation, when people engage in illegal behaviors involving drugs they may face a range of consequences, including:

  • jail time
  • heavy fines
  • community service
  • probation
  • house arrest
  • permanent criminal record, which can influence an individual’s ability to maintain a job, be approved for college or loans, vote, own a gun or join the military.

Lock-up facilities around the U.S. are starting to be in a constant state of overcrowding due to the sheer number of people violating drug enforcement laws. In 2012, roughly 95,000 people were sent to jail for drug charges.

Finding Treatment For Valium (Diazepam) Abuse And Addiction

If an individual struggles with Valium (diazepam) abuse, they will likely need help to overcome it. When someone abuses Valium, they can become dependent on the substance, causing their body to need it to function normally. Once dependence is established, it can be challenging to stop abusing Valium.

Suddenly stopping medications is never recommended, but can be particularly dangerous where benzodiazepines are concerned. Abrupt removal of Valium from a body that has become reliant on it can cause unpleasant and uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. This abuse potential is part of the reason Valium is classified as a Schedule IV controlled substance.

Breaking the cycle of Valium abuse and addiction can be difficult alone. Formal addiction treatment programs can help individuals work through their addictive behaviors and provide them with the tools and support they need to regain control of their lives.

U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) - Drug Scheduling

U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) - VALIUM brand of diazepam TABLETS

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