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Hello, I need some help with my 81 year old grandmother. What can she use instead of valium? She has been complaining that she cannot go to sleep without that medication, and it seems that it does not help anymore. Do you have any idea? She is healthy, although fragile, but I guess that is normal considering her age.

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Well, if she has been prescribed that medication by her doctor then I guess you will have to take her for a medical check up again. I know that it must be hard for her, but if she is having a problem, with her therapy, then something has to be done. Perhaps she will be given some stronger drug from the same medication group, or her therapy will be completely changed. One thing is certain, she will feel better…
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It's not a matter of Diazepam being the wrong drug. Once you use a sedative like that for an extended period of time, you develop a tolerance to its effects. With the benzodiazepine class of drugs (which includes Diazepam, brand name Valium), a complete tolerance can occur after only 1-2 weeks of daily/nightly use.

Getting an overall physical checkup is important to rule out anything serious. As far as an alternative, I would suggest a non-benzodiazepine sleep aid, such as Ambien, Lunesta or Sonata. Unlike Valium, these have few interactions, and do not effect blood pressure or heart rate. They can also be effective for longer periods of time (a tolerance can still develop within 2-4 months). Treating the underlying psychological or physiological cause of the insomnia is important, as any sleep aid is just to provides temporary relief.

I hope this helps and good luck!

PS-Most people who need sleep aids will increase the dosage when the effects start to diminish from extended use. I know this from personal experience, as well as many things I've read. DO NOT let your grandmother take more than she is prescribed, as this can lead to potentially fatal reactions.
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