Ways of Valium Abuse: Smoking, Snorting, or Oral?

Last Updated: July 6, 2020

Authored by Nena Messina, Ph.D.

Reviewed by Michael Espelin APRN

Valium (Diazepam) is a prescription medication that belongs to the group of drugs called benzodiazepines. Because of its sedative properties and a calming effect on the central nervous system, the drug is used mainly as an anti-anxiety medication and to treat seizures and panic attacks. However, some people misuse the soothing effect to get high by taking Valium in higher doses or wrong ways. The medication is meant to be taken orally, but some people try to get the drug into their system quicker by snorting or smoking the pill. This article will outline potential dangers of these two methods.

Snorting Valium vs. Oral Consumption

In an attempt to intensify their high, some people will try snorting Valium. One should never snort diazepam as there are overdose risks associated with this method. Not only that, but one is subject to a higher risk of developing an addiction when he or she snorts the drug. The pill starts working inside the body very shortly after it’s been swallowed. On an empty stomach, it shouldn’t take longer than 30-40 minutes before the medication starts kicking in.
Therefore, reducing the already short time by snorting a crushed pill doesn’t make sense. Plus, this method brings along plenty potential dangers.
Molecular structure model of diazepam, the main active ingredient in Valium.
Potential side effects of snorting Valium include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Low blood pressure
  • Delayed breathing
  • Nasal damage

However, when the drug is abused and snorted in its crushed form, risks of an overdose and dependence increases. In the worst cases, overdose on the drug can lead to death. Such cases usually involve a mixture of other drugs and alcohol, too.

What are the Dangers of Inhaling Valium?

Smoking the drug probably won’t even produce the Valium ‘high’ effect and definitely won’t make the drug work better. The high temperatures the pill is exposed to can destroy some of the chemicals inside it, including the main active ingredient.
Abusers most frequently heat up the pill on tinfoil, in hopes that the active ingredient will be vaporized and more easily inhaled and absorbed. However, the reality is far from this illusion. Very little of the actual medication is being turned into vapor as the high temperatures usually damage most of the pharmaceuticals. Continuing taking Valium in such manner will increase the exposure to the dangerous fillers and binders of the drug, thus improving his or her chance of suffering from throat and lungs damage.
Moreover, practicing this method is a dangerous game, too, as the medication is known to, in some cases, produce adverse side effects such as:

  • Confusion
  • Blurred vision
  • Low blood pressure
  • Muscle weakness
  • Fatigue or drowsiness
  • Hallucinations

Dangers of smoking diazepam, therefore, are immense, as it can be difficult to predict the correct dosage of Valium. What’s more, such way of usage can damage one’s lungs and respiratory tract, all for a slight chance of getting high.

The Best Way to Take Valium

While smoking and snorting Valium on some occasions can get the abuser high, these methods aren’t effective or recommended. As a strong sedative and a central nervous system depressant, Valium has been designed to be consumed orally. The best way to take diazepam is by mouth. Its bioavailability is roughly 100% and closes to 99% is bound in plasma.
Also, suddenly stopping using the medication might trigger Valium withdrawal symptoms. Going ‘cold turkey’ is never the solution; instead, the dose should be lowered steadily and slowly. Withdrawal symptoms should be reported to the doctor immediately. Some of them are:

  • Anxiety
  • Shakiness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Seizures

Final Thoughts

To sum up, it is important that the patient takes the medication by mouth as instructed by his or her doctor. Increasing dosage or taking the drug more frequently can result in a` higher chance of its abuse in the future. Therefore, carefully dosing and consuming the drug will increase its chances of success. The dosage a doctor prescribes will depend on the patient’s age, medical condition, and response to treatment. Again, one’s condition won’t improve any faster if the dose has been increased or used differently. On the contrary, it could lead to devastating consequences.

Page Sources

  1. https://www.netdoctor.co.uk/medicines/brain-nervous-system/a6560/diazepam/

Published on: April 19th, 2018

Updated on: July 6th, 2020

About Author

Nena Messina, Ph.D.

Nena Messina is a specialist in drug-related domestic violence. She devoted her life to the study of the connection between crime, mental health, and substance abuse. Apart from her work as management at addiction center, Nena regularly takes part in the educational program as a lecturer.

Medically Reviewed by

Michael Espelin APRN

8 years of nursing experience in wide variety of behavioral and addition settings that include adult inpatient and outpatient mental health services with substance use disorders, and geriatric long-term care and hospice care.  He has a particular interest in psychopharmacology, nutritional psychiatry, and alternative treatment options involving particular vitamins, dietary supplements, and administering auricular acupuncture.


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