Diazepam is a prescription medicine used to treat anxiety disorders. It is in a class of drugs called benzodiazepines. Diazepam overdose occurs when someone takes more than the normal or recommended amount of this medicine. This can be by accident or on purpose.
This article is for information only. DO NOT use it to treat or manage an actual overdose. If you or someone you are with has an overdose, call your local emergency number (such as 911), or your local poison center can be reached directly by calling the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the United States.
Aliseum overdose; Alupram overdose; Atensine overdose; Valium overdose; Valrelease overdose; Vatran overdose; Vivol overdose; Zeltran overdose
Diazepam can be harmful in large amounts.
Medicines with these names contain diazepam:
- Diazepam intensol
Other medicines may also contain diazepam.
The most common symptom of a diazepam overdose is falling into a deep sleep or "coma" while still being able to breathe well enough. Other symptoms may include:
- Bluish-colored lips and fingernails
- Blurred vision, double vision
- Breathing is slow, labored, or stopped
- Drowsiness, lack of alertness
- Rapid side-to-side movement of the eyes
- Stomach upset
- Weakness, uncoordinated movement
Before Calling Emergency
Have this information ready:
- Person's age, weight, and condition
- Name of product (ingredients and strength, if known)
- Time it was swallowed
- Amount swallowed
- If the medicine was prescribed for the person
Your local poison control center can be reached directly by calling the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the United States. This national hotline will let you talk to experts in poisoning. They will give you further instructions.
This is a free and confidential service. All local poison control centers in the United States use this national number. You should call if you have any questions about poisoning or poison prevention. It does NOT need to be an emergency. You can call for any reason, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
What to Expect at the Emergency Room
Take the container to the hospital with you, if possible.
The health care provider will measure and monitor vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure.
Tests that may be done include:
- Chest x-ray
- CT scan
- ECG (electrocardiogram, or heart tracing)
Treatment may include:
- Fluids through a vein (by IV)
- Medicine to reverse the effect of the overdose and treat other symptoms
- Activated charcoal
- Breathing support, including a tube through the mouth into the lungs and connected to a breathing machine (ventilator)
Recovery from a diazepam overdose is very likely. Complications such as pneumonia, muscle damage from lying on a hard surface for a long period of time, or brain damage from lack of oxygen may result in permanent disability.
People who inject large amounts of this drug through a vein (intravenously or IV) have a worse outcome than those who swallow too many pills.
Aronson JK. Diazepam. In: Aronson JK, ed. Meyler's Side Effects of Drugs. 16th ed. Waltham, MA: Elsevier; 2016:930-937.
Gussow L, Carlson A. Sedative hypnotics. In: Walls RM, Hockberger RS, Gausche-Hill M, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 159.
Reviewed By: Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Emeritus, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.