Is Valium a controlled substance? Celine Dion reveals she took nearly fatal doses of the drug to ease pain from Stiff Person Syndrome

66th GRAMMY Awards - Show
Singer Celine Dion opened up about her near fatal Valium usage to manage her Stiff Person Syndrome symptoms (Image via Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Celine Dion opened up about taking near-fatal doses of Valium to ease her Stiff Person Syndrome symptoms, which she has been managing for almost 20 years. In an exclusive cover story with People Magazine published on June 11, 2024, the legendary singer said she once took 90 milligrams of Valium to get through a performance.

"It could have been fatal. I did not question the level because I don't know medicine. I thought it was going to be okay. It worked for a few days, for a few weeks, and then it doesn't work anymore. I did not understand that I could have gone to bed and stopped breathing. And you learn — you learn through your mistakes," she said.

Valium is the brand name for diazepam, which belongs to the benzodiazepine family. Valium is classified as a Class IV controlled substance by the Federal Controlled Substances Act.

According to the Ashley Addiction Treatment website, doctors usually prescribe Valium due to its calming effects to treat anxiety, alcohol withdrawal, and insomnia. However, the drug is often used by people for recreational purposes, which can also lead to addiction.

Celine Dion was diagnosed with Stiff Person Syndrome in August 2022

Celine Dion's battle with Stiff Person Syndrome, a rare autoimmune neurological disorder, began nearly 17 years ago. Speaking to People Magazine, the My Heart Will Go On singer recounted how she managed her symptoms that started showing up in the mid-2000s.

Celine Dion first experienced symptoms like muscle spasms and erratic breathing that impacted her singing while touring in Germany. The singer recalled:

"I had breakfast, and I suddenly started to feel a spasm. My vocal exercise made it worse."

After various other medications failed, Dion was prescribed Valium by her doctors. She started with a mild dosage but gradually increased her prescribed dosage of Valium to deal with the muscle spasms and seizures that accompanied her diagnosis, revealing that she once took 90 milligrams of Valium for a performance.

In an interview with NBC on June 11, Celine Dion said that her body became accustomed to the prescribed dosage, leading her to increase the prescription.

"Ninety milligrams of Valium can kill you. You can stop breathing. And at one point, the thing is that my body got used to it at 20 and 30 and 40 [milligrams], until it went up. And I needed that. It was relaxing my whole body," she said.

She added that she finally cut down her Valium intake during the pandemic as the lockdown prevented her from giving public performances, saying that she tapered her dosage with the help of her doctor.

However, her symptoms returned after she stopped taking Valium, and, in August 2022, Celine Dion was diagnosed with Stiff Person Syndrome.

In her interview with People Magazine, Celine Dion explained that she currently follows a holistic treatment plan involving medication, immune therapy, vocal therapy, and physical rehabilitation five days a week to manage her condition.


A new documentary titled I Am: Celine Dion, scheduled for release on Amazon Prime on June 25, 2024, will shed light on the singer's life after being diagnosed with Stiff Person Syndrome.

Edited by Dev Sharma
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