Home » Expert Q & A » Anxiety Disorders » Anxiety: Dr. Stuart Shipko

Switching to Valium to stop a serious drinking problem

  • anonymous Asks ...

    I have been using 10 mg of valium per day for the past 3 weeks as a tool to keep my anxiety under control while I try to get a handle on a serious drinking problem. I think I originally developed an alcohol problem in part because I self medicate social anxiety with a few drinks – and then it grew into something much more from that starting point. I do understand that valium is a very addictive drug but right now my focus is firmly on just trying to stay sober. This is my first real period of sobriety after a decade or so of hard drinking. I understand that I should not stop using the valium very suddenly. How long do you think I should continue to use the valium for before it is safe enough for me to start tapering off it without causing undue risk of an alcohol relapse?

  • Dr. Stuart Shipko Says ...
    Dr. Stuart Shipko

    There is not a good answer to your questions.    It is conceivable that if you lack sober living skills that whenever you taper the Valium you will start drinking again.  Where are you getting the Valium?  You should be under the care of a physician who has a plan that addresses your question.  Depending on the severity of the drinking problem, and the success in stopping drinking while taking Valium, some patients are better off taking Valium indefinitely.  In my experience, it is more common for a patient with a drinking problem to start drinking again even while taking Valium, and for that reason I tend to avoid this treatment strategy - even for patients who may have originally been using the alcohol to self medicate anxiety.   Also, you may be underestimating the difficulty of tapering and stopping Valium once you are dependent on it.  For many people, stopping alcohol is a lot easier than stopping Valium.  Even at 3 weeks, Valium can be difficult to stop, but it is certain that it will be easier to stop taking the Valium now than it will be in 6 months or a year from now.  My advice to you is that you should get professional chemical dependency help right away for assistance in stopping the Valium right away while you are actively engaged in treatment for alcohol abuse.

Featured Experts