Is Valium a narcotic?

No. Valium is neither a medical nor a legal narcotic. Instead, Valium is considered a Schedule IV drug, meaning that there is potential for abuse, but Valium is not as dangerous or addictive as many other drugs. More on Valium scheduling and addiction liability here.

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No. Valium is not a narcotic.

We review the difference between medical and legal narcotics here. Plus, information on the addiction liability of Valium. And we invite your Valium  questions at the end. We try to respond to all legitimate Valium questions with a personal and prompt reply.

Medical uses for Valium

Valium (diazepam) has a few different uses, including anxiety relief, the treatment of muscle spasms, and calming seizures. But Valium is habit forming, so it’s typically only prescribed for a few weeks at a time. This prevents addiction or physical dependence.

Is Valium a medical narcotic?

No. Valium is not a medical narcotic.

Only opiate and opioid medications are referred to as “narcotics” in a medical setting. Opiates (like heroin or morphine or their derivatives) slow brain activity and cause sedative effects, causing dizziness and drowsiness, sometimes even the loss of consciousness. Opiates are typically used to manage moderate to severe pain, although they can have other therapeutic applications. Although Valium has many of these same sedative effects and Valium get you high, it is not related to opium. Therefore, Valium is not considered a narcotic by medical definition.

Is Valium a legal narcotic?

No. Valium is not a legal narcotic.

Legal narcotics can include drugs that considered to be medical narcotics, but the category also includes a few other substances, including cocaine and marijuana. The term “narcotic” can be used to refer to all illicit drugs or controlled substances, but the US Drug Enforcement Administration does not follow this usage in their official documentation. Therefore, because Valium is not a Schedule I, II or III drug, it is not considered to be a controlled substance by the DEA.

Why is Valium a Schedule IV drug?

Valium is considered to have low potential for abuse relative to Schedule II and III drugs. Valium is not as widespread a problem as drugs in higher schedules, and tends to mostly become problematic with long-term use, or in those with a history of abusing different drugs.

Is Valium addictive?

Valium can be addictive. Valium creates a physical dependence in users, which causes them to experience withdrawals if they try to stop the drug abruptly. However, physical dependence on a drug is not always the same as an addiction. Addicts usually experience cravings, exhibit drug-seeking behavior, and take escalating doses of the medication. Someone using Valium as directed by a doctor may have a dependence, but not an addiction.

Valium abuse

Valium can be abused and is often taken in combination with other drugs.   How long does Valium stay in your system?  Although Valium doesn’t attach to the same receptors in the brain as opiates, it does have sedative effects which a person might appreciate. And some people prefer a Valium high to other types of euphoric sensation. But the line between recreational use and abuse is very sensitive. Valium is highly addictive, and Valium addicts begin to crave the drug and experience withdrawals if they aren’t able to obtain it.

PROs of keeping Valium a Schedule IV drug

Valium is a great medication for people who suffer from anxiety or sleep disorders. It works well for short-term treatment of minor disturbances. Most of the common side effects of the medication are minor, so it’s fairly safe.

CONs of keeping Valium a Schedule IV drug

The dependence and tolerance that develop with long-term use can be problematic. The drug may become less effective for someone over time. The withdrawal effects and addictive potential mean that Valium should only be prescribed short-term, to those without a history of previous addiction.

Valium narcotic questions

Do you have questions about Valium? Please leave us your questions about Valium use, abuse or addiction. We will be happy to answer your questions with a personal reply.

Reference Sources: Drug Enforcement Administration: Controlled Substance Schedules
Drug Enforcement Administration: Narcotics
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.


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  1. I have been on Valium for 15 years on and off… I suffer from Major Depressive Disorder, panic Disorder, Anxiety Disorder, PTSD from 9/11, Social Anxiety Disorder, and Suicidal Ideation… My prescriber at my mental health clinic, informed me of a new law in the State of Kentucky that patients should only be on this medication for 6 weeks, and then tapered off because he said that the Kentucky law says that it’s all that is required to get your life back together… If this medicine gets taken away from me all the progress that I am making is going to be flushed down the toilet… I understand that it should be cut down when the patient makes some progress but my brain has been injured for almost a lifetime…I don’t want to go back to a life of being a prisoner in my own home again… Valium is not a drug that causes abuse… Especially if you rely on it to get through life… Every mental patient is different… And to be honest I have to go to this mental fascility because there are not very many other treatment options around here… Councelors change constantly around here… Just when you start making progress your counselor leaves… So you have to start all over with a new one… And finding one that understands you is not easy either… I want to understand how this law is going to affect my treatment cause I fear the outcome, I don’t want those suicidal Ideations I have a 5 year old that I love more than myself.. I am compliant with my meds cause I don’t want to go through the metal anguish again… When I lived in New Jersey this never happened since it’s a schedule IV controlled substance… I thought opiates where the problem…

  2. I would have to disagree with the statement saying that someone who is physically dependant, is not necessarily addicted. Dependency and addiction are virtually the same, when it comes to being physically addicted/dependant. The person needs the drug on a regular basis, or they can not function. If they do not get their does, they will have withdrawal symptoms, the severity of which depend on how long, and how much of the drug the body is accustomed to receiving. I would agree that someone can be physically dependant, therefore are addicted, but since the drug is being used as directed and prescribed, they are not abusing the drug. In a lot of cases, it is the doctor who has abused the drug. Doctors know full well that some drugs will develope a dependency, in every patient, over time, everytime. It is the responsibility of the doctor to moderate the use of these drugs. The opiate crisis we are facing today, is largely to blame on the fact that doctors did not, or could not moderate the use of the pain killers available. The pharmaceutical industry has, and continues to reap massive profits on opiates. Since profits are the only thing that concerns them, and the addiction/Dependency rate is 100% for everyone who uses these drugs daily for 30 days, there is little to no motivation to find an alternative. Capitalism is a failed, and flawed system. It has changed the medical system from one that has our health and well being, as it’s focus and priority, to one that is focused on profit and sustained revenue. The goal to cure cancer has been replaced by one focused on cancer survival, through the use of on going treatments and expensive scans. There are people who are cured of cancer, but that rate has remained about the same for 80 years. The rate of drug dependent/addicted patients is off the chart. The number of people who are now hooked on heroine, that developed their dependency through the use of prescription drugs, is staggering. The corporations who have made hundreds of billions of dollars, should pay the lions share of the costs, to rectify the situation. Unfortunately, the costs of human suffering, broken homes, incarcerated people and lost productivity, can never be recouped.

  3. My doctor prescribed diazepam to treat positional vertigo. I questioned that, but it worked instantly. One dose lasts about three days.

    1. Hi Mork. First, I suggest that you consult with your doctor before taking anything. Also, there are many over-the-counter medications that can help yu with manage opioid withdrawal symptoms. For instance, trazodone may be prescribed to treat depression and anxiety, while diphenoxylate and loperamide can be used to treat diarrhea. Finally, download our free e-book ‘How To Quit Opioids Painkillers’ to learn more about opioid withdrawal, here:

  4. I was on opioids for 10 years, it took me 2 years to detox. In that time, I learned that, what opioids do to keep someone addicted, is the brain wants more of the drug, and thus tells the body its in pain so that they take more pain pills.
    Does valium do the same thing?

    1. Hi Charlotte. Yes. Valium has also addictive potential and may lead you to dependence as well as addiction.

  5. My mother has been on dialysis for about 2 years & recently just found out that the klonopin she was taking for severe anxiety was building up in her system putting her in an almost comatosed state so the Dr lowered the amount & now she is doing so much better, she’s able to go to the bathroom on her own now where she wasn’t able to before on the klonopin but it isn’t controlling her anxiety at all. So my question is would valium be better, does dialysis filter out valium any better than klonopin? Thanks

    1. Hi April. I suggest that you speak with your mother’s doctor. S/he knows her medical history, and would know what’s the best for her.

  6. Is taking one (1) valium a night dangerous. For 13 years I have taken a “cocktail at night of valium,
    triazolam 0.25,amitriptyline 50 mg, & Lovasttin 20 mg.” I am 77 and have an active life. My doctor for 25 years has retired and all of a sudden a new young doctor wants to mess with my meds.

  7. I am 71 and use valium for sleep only. It also relaxes sore back and even though I have a sleep number bed it helps tremendously. Pharmacy however typically refuses to refill prescription on time. This should be a violation of my rights.

  8. I have been on Methadone 10 mg and Deluded 4 mg. I have severe stenosis. I now am on prednisone 5-mg am 5mg pm it i amazing year id rather have 10 like this then 30 in bed. Any way Im almost 60 trying to get off the the methadone and the deluded. The Prednisone seems to be great. I know the side affects. I get bone density and blood work all the time and keep an eye on my sugar. Im about 8 days into about 1/2 what I was taking. I get weird feelings and I get cravings for the meds. sleeping ok. Will the valium take the edge off? Any thoughts on the best way to do it? The pain Dr said I would need to go into program my own Dr thinks I can do it at home. Thoughts

  9. Hi William. Your decision needs to be made by taking your personal preferences, the doctor’s advice and other possible options into consideration. Truth is, every medication will have the power to alter brain’s activity. You can also talk to a psychologist about your concern.

  10. Hi,,, I have been clean and sober for some years now, but was addicted to crack for 27 years (no other drugs or alcohol), after two car accidents in 2013,, the doctor now have me taking 1 valium at bedtime,, it’s been about a month, so far no problems,,I got about 14 left in this prescription, and so far no problems. Should I Allow a refill or seek something eles?

  11. Hi Alisha. Diffrernt States have different laws. Which State do you live in?
    Minor tranquilizers, such as Valium are controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act as Class C drugs but the possession offence is waived so that it is not illegal to possess or use them without a prescription. It is an offence to sell or supply them to another person.

  12. My husband got caught with 14 Valium in 2013 and is now incarcerated with a $10,000 cash only bond. If Valium is a NOT a Narcotic or a controlled substance then why is he incarcerated?? Please help me out!!

  13. Hi Carol. A couple of months on painkillers and anti-anxiety medications seems pretty par for major surgeries. Have you consulted with a patient advocate for more information?

  14. I had an ankle replacement, a fusion on the left side and a large spur removed on june12.
    I was on 5mg of oxoycodone very 4 hours and 5 mg of valium every six hours.
    after about 55 days the oxyocodone was stopped and replaced with 5 mg of Norco 3 times a day, the valium amount stayed the same,

    I am now off all three of the drugs and am using tramadol and ibuprofen. was this a reasonable course of drug use. my family felt it was used for to long when I was talking slowly and forgetting things and mixing up numbers, etc.

  15. Hi Donnetta. Good for you! Congratulations on the sobriety. Way to go! Weaning off diazepam under medical supervision is always recommended. I’d personally suggest that you look into other ways to calm yourself. Exercise and meditation can really help, but these require discipline. What does your doctor say about finding an alternative to Valium?

  16. I have taken Valium by a medical doctor about a yr. I am a recovering alcoholic, & attend meetings on a regular basis. I was taking it for anxiety, and for the drinking. Now, I only take the prescribed dosage at night to go to bed. I know that my doctor will have to wing me off the prescription eventually. I do not have any side effects other than being drowsy. I entered into a detox facility, and got clean fm the alcohol, and I’m 2 months sober. I still need the valium most of the time to get a good night’s sleep. What do you suggest I do at this point? I am at “The Cross Roads.”

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