Valium is a common benzodiazepine drug prescribed to millions of people around the world. Although it is meant to help curve a variety of mental health issues, such as anxiety, it has a strong propensity for both dependence and abuse. Finding yourself hooked on Valium is extremely common, and it can be really scary. Understanding Valium addiction is the first step toward overcoming it.
Valium is brand-name diazepam. It is a benzodiazepine that is designed to affect the brain’s chemistry directly to help people with anxiety disorders. It can also be used in alcohol detox, seizures, and treating muscle spasms.
Also known as Vs, Yellow Vs, Blue Vs, benzos, or Howards (less known), Valium is an extremely popular benzo. Valium acts as a muscle relaxer, an anxiety reliever, and a sedative. The euphoric, sedative sensations that occur as a result of use is the desired effect abusers look for.
Valium, along with benzos, works by changing the chemistry of the brain. By acting on the GABA receptors, it causes a release of the GABA neurotransmitter. Since GABA directly affects one’s level of calm and can induce sleepiness, the release of the chemical sends the user into a relaxed state.
Over time, however, the body gets used to the presence of the Valium. Therefore, the amount of Valium that once worked may no longer be effective since the body stops functioning correctly without it. This is what is known as drug tolerance, and eventually, a higher and higher dose is required for the desired effects. This is when the body becomes physically addicted to the drug. You need Valium just to maintain a normal chemical balance. The major problem comes when your feelings of anxiety return because the drug no longer works like it should because of your tolerance.
The psychological aspect of addiction comes from seeking out the calming state of being under the influence of the drug. A heightened sense of anxiety and depression may be experienced if the drug is not used or if it’s needed to function properly on a day-to-day basis.
There also have been studies that have shown Valium to cause brain damage if it is used for too long. Since benzodiazepines interact with the brain’s GABA receptors, it is much easier to develop a dependence on the drug. The best way to use Valium is to follow your physician’s instructions carefully and never take more than what is prescribed. However, it is often best to find less harmful ways to deal with anxiety.
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Since Valium becomes both physiologically and psychologically addictive over time, developing a dependence or addiction to the medication is common. The body can no longer function without the medication, and the user may feel unable to handle daily life.
If you believe you or a loved one may be addicted to Valium, you may notice signs and symptoms associated with Valium abuse such as:
So now that you know what Valium addiction can do to your body and mind, how is it treated? The first step is to find a treatment center that has a dedicated staff of compassionate addiction professionals and matches your needs and goals. Here are the major steps that most people in recovery when going through valium addiction treatment.
When heading off to treatment for Valium addiction, it is crucial to begin with a medical detox. This process ensures you manage withdrawal symptoms as safely and comfortably as possible as medical professionals remove drugs and other toxins from the body. Admittance to a medical detox facility is the first step toward enjoying your new, sober life. Upon arriving at this facility, you will undergo an intensive assessment of your Valium addiction by a professional medical staff. Following an assessment, a personalized detox plan will be implemented, and you will be given prescription medications to help you throughout the detox process.
While at the detox facility, you will also have access to a support staff of therapists, case managers, and behavioral health technicians 24/7. They will begin your treatment of addiction and provide support during the emotionally difficult time in detox.
After safely and successfully detoxing off of Valium, heading off to a residential facility is recommended. Here, you will engage in 24/7, full-time therapy that will be far more intensive than what was provided at detox. With a primary focus on finding and treating the underlying cause of your addiction, staying at a residential facility for 30-45 days (time varies on a case-by-case basis) will help you fortify your recovery and combat the relapse triggers that come with everyday life.
Following your successful completion of residential treatment, finding an IOP or intensive outpatient program is the next step. IOP provides additional therapeutic support, but on a part-time basis. Typically meeting for only a few times a week, it helps with keeping accountability to recovery as well as easing the transition from inpatient back into everyday life.
By completing the full continuum of treatment, it greatly increases your chances of success in recovery. By solidifying your recovery, you can help prevent relapsing back onto Valium and instead enjoy long-term sobriety.
Valium, like other benzodiazepines, is very dangerous. Although they are prescription medications, they are both very easily abused and pose a high propensity for overdose. Since they act as a central nervous system depressant alone, combining Valium with other drugs (polydrug use), especially alcohol, can pose life-threatening complications. By suppressing the CNS too greatly, it can result in a loss of consciousness as well as impedes breathing.
Valium can also cause memory problems. Often blackouts, or complete memory loss, occurs with using the medication. During this time, people typically engage in dangerous or illegal behaviors they have no recollection of following the blackout.
The actual detox from Valium and other benzos can be dangerous as well. Benzodiazepines are the only detox besides alcohol whose withdrawal symptoms may result in death. Seizures are very common during the detox process, which is why heading to a medical detox facility is always recommended when addicted to Valium. Without proper medical supervision and use of detox medications, life-threatening seizures can occur.
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Bachhuber, M, (December, 2015). Increasing Benzodiazepine Prescriptions and Overdose Mortality in the United States, 1996–2013. Apha Publications. from https://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/abs/10.2105/AJPH.2016.303061
(August, 2017). Prescription Opioid Overdose Data. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. from https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/data/overdose.html