Ask an Expert: Should I Inject Valium?

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Ask an Expert: Should I Inject Valium?

By Anna Lembke 03/15/16

Our expert answers a question from a detoxing heroin addict on whether there's any benefit to injecting Valium.

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Ask an Expert: Should I Inject Valium Instead of Taking It Orally?
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Will I become unconscious right away if I inject 40 mg of Valium? I am a recovering heroin addict and am slowly weaning off my previous addiction by substituting Valium orally, but currently this is not sufficient to calm my cravings. Please let me know if it will knock me unconscious—and if it does, will it instantly make me unconscious or does it take a while? I would still like to go about my day and not sleep through it.

Anna Lembke: In all likelihood, you will not become unconscious injecting 40 mg of Valium, assuming you have no other drugs on board and are not combining it with alcohol or other sedatives. (Opioids and sedatives taken together greatly increase the risk of accidental overdose, by slowing heart rate and breathing until you don’t wake up again.) But why bother? Valium, like most benzodiazepines, is not water-soluble and has over 90% oral bioavailability (the amount that reaches circulation). You will basically get the same effect just eating it, minus the needles. If your goal is to reduce your cravings from opioids, use the medications that are tried and true for this—methadone and Suboxone. In addition to being effective for withdrawal and cravings, methadone and Suboxone are FDA-approved to treat opioid addiction and withdrawal. Under the supervision of a doctor, the right dose of methadone or Suboxone would allow you to "go about your day" and "not sleep through it" while still effectively targeting cravings. Good luck, and be safe! 

Anna Lembke, MD, is on the faculty of the Stanford University School of Medicine, a diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, and a diplomate of the American Board of Addiction Medicine. Full Bio.

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