Valium Addiction | Effects, Abuse, Symptoms, & Treatment
- Effects Of Valium
- Dangers Of Valium Abuse
- Signs & Symptoms Of Valium Addiction
- Valium Addiction Treatment Options
Valium can be helpful as a medically supervised prescription. But using it to self-medicate with high doses or an increased frequency of use without approval from a healthcare professional is abuse and can lead to addiction or substance use disorder.
Effects Of Valium
Valium is a brand name for the generic drug diazepam. It’s a benzodiazepine—a sedative or depressant drug. Diazepam calms brain activity and slows down your central nervous system. It is sometimes used to sedate people before surgery and has several other FDA-approved uses.
Valium uses include the treatment of:
- anxiety disorders
- muscle spasms
- alcohol withdrawal
Valium dosage depends on the condition and its severity. Most people take four to 40 mg of Valium in two to four doses throughout the day. A qualified medical professional should determine the appropriate dosage for you.
Valium Side Effects
You might have side effects with Valium (diazepam), even if you take it as prescribed. But the risk of adverse side effects increases if you abuse Valium.
Common side effects of Valium are:
- weak muscles
- dry mouth
- difficulty urinating
- urinating more often
- changes in sex drive
Severe side effects of Valium may be:
- slurred speech
- slow breathing
- slow heart rate
- loss of control over body movements
- uncontrollable shaking of a body part
If you have Valium side effects that are severe, persistent, or interfering with daily life, talk to a healthcare professional.
Short-Term Effects Of Valium
Valium (diazepam) targets a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). The role of GABA is to reduce unnecessary excitement in the brain. This effect makes Valium useful in treating anxiety, and it also makes it attractive as a substance of abuse.
Taking Valium should help you relax. You may get a feeling of euphoria. As a long-acting benzodiazepine, Valium stays in your system for a while. It may be less likely to be abused than short-acting drugs that require additional doses to maintain a sense of calm.
Dangers Of Valium Abuse
After taking Valium (diazepam) for a few weeks, your body may grow tolerant to it, so you’ll need a higher or more frequent dose to get the same effect. If you increase your dosage without a doctor’s recommendation, you may be starting down the path to addiction.
Taking Valium without a prescription or taking it in higher doses, more frequently, or for longer than prescribed is drug abuse.
Valium causes physical dependence, a condition in which your body needs the drug to function. Prolonged use can also lead to changes in your brain structure so that you crave Valium to relax. The more you feed this craving, the more you become mentally dependent (addicted).
Many people who abuse Valium take it orally, but some crush the pills and snort them or inject them. These alternative methods increase the risk of overdose because they take the drug directly into the bloodstream rather than allowing it to distribute slowly throughout the body.
Valium Overdose Risk
As a central nervous system depressant, Valium (diazepam) may cause respiratory depression, a serious condition in which you cannot breathe properly.
It’s unlikely that you’ll overdose on Valium alone, but if you combine it with opioids, alcohol, or other tranquilizers, the result could be loss of consciousness, coma, or death.
Signs & Symptoms Of Valium Addiction
If you’re worried that a loved one is addicted to Valium, knowing the signs and symptoms of prescription drug addiction is vital. Once you’ve determined that your concern is valid, you can address the problem in a loving, non-judgmental way.
Signs and symptoms of Valium or benzodiazepine addiction may include:
- constant sedation
- long-term Valium use without a prescription
- withdrawing from family and friends
- financial struggles related to drug use
- health problems, such as cognitive impairment or lack of coordination
- putting yourself or others in danger while intoxicated
- valium withdrawal symptoms
Valium Withdrawal Symptoms
If you’re physically dependent on Valium (diazepam), you’ll need to wean off of it gradually to avoid withdrawal symptoms. Some people relapse during the withdrawal process because it’s so unpleasant.
Acute Valium withdrawal symptoms include:
- high blood pressure
- rapid heart rate
- nausea and vomiting
- muscle pain
- anxiety, depression, and irritability
- panic attacks
- memory problems
- feeling disconnected from yourself or the world around you
Some severe Valium withdrawal symptoms are:
- depression and mania
- suicidal thoughts and actions
Some people experience a protracted withdrawal syndrome (also called post-acute withdrawal syndrome, or PAWS) with benzodiazepines like Valium, Xanax, or Librium. This phase lasts at least four to six weeks after the initial withdrawal phase. Symptoms can last over a year.
Protracted withdrawal syndrome may give you the symptoms listed above, in addition to muscle weakness and twitches, ringing in the ears, and cognitive impairment.
Benzodiazepine withdrawal can be life-threatening, so make sure you have proper support before attempting to stop Valium use.
Valium Addiction Treatment Options
Substance abuse starts differently for everyone and affects each person in varying ways. An effective Valium addiction treatment program will address your unique situation through a blend of evidence-based therapies in an inpatient or outpatient setting.
Valium addiction treatment may begin with medically supervised detox to help you safely rid your system of benzodiazepines.
A treatment plan for prescription medication abuse or addiction may consist of:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT examines how your thinking affects your behavior and helps you reframe negative thought patterns that lead to drug use.
- Art therapy: Art gives you a mode of creative expression and an emotional outlet that can help you positively deal with your feelings.
- Exercise and fitness: Addiction can take a devastating toll on your physical health. Caring for your body heals it and gives you the mindset to prevent relapse.
- Support groups: Support groups bring together people with similar experiences so they can share their struggles, gain perspective, and support each other’s recovery.
- Dual diagnosis treatment: Substance use disorders sometimes stem from other mental health issues and can be worsened by mental instability. Dual diagnosis treatment addresses co-occurring disorders to heal you completely and prevent relapse.
Reach out to a specialist at Northeast Addictions Treatment Center to learn more about Valium abuse and our outpatient addiction treatment options.
Northeast Addition Editorial Team
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This page does not provide medical advice.