Most people mistakenly assume Valium is a safe drug to use because it requires a prescription. However, prolonged use of this medication can turn into a valium addiction. If you are concerned you may be developing an addiction to Valium, Valium addiction treatment is available. At Buckhead Behavioral Health, we help individuals find the strength needed to recover from substance use disorder and create new lives.
Understanding Valium Addiction
Valium addiction is a form of substance use disorder that occurs when a person becomes physically and psychologically dependent on Valium, a prescription medication that belongs to a class of drugs known as benzodiazepines.
Valium is typically prescribed to treat anxiety disorders, muscle spasms, seizures, and insomnia. However, it can also produce feelings of relaxation and euphoria, which can lead to abuse and addiction.
If you or a loved one are looking for Valium addiction treatment, call us now at (470) 460-6789 or fill out the form below and one of our admissions representatives will reach out to you.
How Does Valium Work?
Valium, which is the brand name for diazepam, is a benzodiazepine and central nervous system (CNS) depressant medication. It can reduce anxiety and act as a sedative, muscle relaxant, and anticonvulsant. Like other benzodiazepines, diazepam facilitates the action of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which is an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system. Ultimately, this can help calm an overexcited central nervous system.
Despite its potential for positive, beneficial effects, diazepam is a Schedule IV substance under the Controlled Substances Act, which means that it has a known potential for dependence and misuse. People who misuse benzodiazepines almost always take doses that are higher than prescribed, and they commonly combine benzos with other substances, such as alcohol and opioids.
What Is Valium Used For?
Valium is federally approved for the short-term treatment of anxiety, muscle spasms, and convulsive disorders, and to relieve symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. However, diazepam and other benzos are often abused for a number of reasons, some of which include:
- To experience euphoria and to get high, either by taking diazepam alone or by using it to increase the euphoric effects of opioids or other substances.
- To aid with sleep
- To relieve stress or tension.
- To ease the side effects of cocaine and other drugs.
How Addictive Is Valium?
Overuse of Valium can lead to an addiction, characterized by uncontrollable use of the substance despite negative consequences such as health problems, inability to fulfill regular commitments, and interpersonal relationship struggles.
Benzos like diazepam, the generic form of Valium, can also produce tolerance, meaning a higher dose is required to experience the pleasurable effects experienced at the beginning of drug use. This typically occurs with chronic use, or use that lasts longer than four months, and can lead to physiological dependence, where your body will develop withdrawal symptoms if drug use is stopped or significantly reduced. This is more likely to occur with regular, high-dose use.
Signs and Symptoms of Valium Addiction
Only a qualified healthcare professional can provide a diagnosis, but it can be helpful to be aware of the signs and symptoms of addiction so you know when it might be time to seek help.
Addiction to Valium is diagnosed as a sedative use disorder; to receive this diagnosis, a person must meet at least 2 of the following criteria over a 12-month period:
- Using Valium in increasing amounts or for longer periods of time than originally prescribed.
- Spending a great deal of time obtaining, using, or recovering from the effects of Valium.
- Feeling cravings or strong urges for Valium.
- Being unable to maintain important responsibilities at work, home, or school because of Valium use.
- Continuing to use the drug despite having significant social or relational problems caused or made worse by the effects of Valium.
- Giving up important or meaningful activities because of drug use.
- Recurrent use of Valium in situations where it is physically dangerous (such as when driving or operating machinery).
- Continuing to use Valium despite knowing that you have a physical or psychological problem that is likely to have been caused or made worse by your Valium use.
- Tolerance (which means needing more of the substance to experience previous effects, outside of intended usage).
- Withdrawal (which refers to the symptoms you can develop when you stop using Valium, outside of intended usage).
Can You Overdose on Valium?
Valium is generally considered safe when used as directed, and an overdose on Valium alone is rare but still possible. Overdoses and related fatalities are more commonly a result of polysubstance misuse, which is when benzodiazepines (like Valium) are combined with opioids or other Central Nervous System depressants, such as alcohol, other benzos, and sleeping pills.
Milder cases of diazepam overdose may result in symptoms like drowsiness, lethargy, or confusion, while polysubstance overdose (combining Valium with other substances) can result in life-threatening respiratory depression. This is when a person’s breathing slows, becomes irregular, and may even stop. Mixing Valium with other substances can have dangerous results and can increase the risk of overdose.
Additionally, mixing Valium with stimulants can have unpredictable effects. Doing so can alter the effects of one or both substances, which may trick you into thinking that the drugs aren’t affecting you, potentially leading to overdose.
If you think a person is overdosing, call 911, then follow these steps:
- Administer naloxone, a life-saving medication that can help in cases of opioid overdose, if available. (It won’t harm a person if they don’t have opioids in their system.)
- Keep the person awake and breathing.
- Lay them on their side to prevent choking.
- Stay with the person until medical help arrives.
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Signs and Symptoms of Valium Withdrawal
As Valium starts wearing off, withdrawal occurs and can include a range of signs and symptoms, such as:
- Extreme Nausea
- Muscle Weakness
- Panic Attacks
- Stomach Cramps
- Muscle Cramps
- Extreme Headaches
- Extreme Mood Swings
The longer you abuse Valium, the more intense the withdrawal. This is why quitting Valium “cold turkey” is highly discouraged. Rather, you need to be carefully tapered off the drug through supervised detox. Even then, withdrawal symptoms can continue to manifest for months after being off the medication.
Side Effects of Valium Abuse
The stronger the Valium addiction, the more undesirable the side effects that can occur, including:
- Memory Problems
- Mood Swings
- Loss of Appetite
- Extreme Weight Loss
Furthermore, people with Valium addiction can reach a point where they need to take so many pills just to feel normal and be able to function. Once their addiction reaches this point, it is also common for them to engage in drug-seeking behaviors because having more of the drug is all that matters.
What Happens During Valium Addiction Treatment?
People who misuse Valium or suspect that they have an addiction may benefit from Valium addiction treatment. One of the most effective treatment options for Valium addiction is medical or clinically supervised detox, which can take place in inpatient and outpatient settings. The detox processes are supervised by healthcare professionals to ensure you are carefully tapered off the drug and help prevent complications associated with benzodiazepine withdrawal.
The duration of detox can vary based on the amount of Valium you were abusing, the length of time you were misusing it, and the intensity of your withdrawal symptoms. To lower the risk of seizures and other severe withdrawal symptoms, doctors may taper doses of diazepam during detox or substitute another long-acting benzodiazepine and taper that. However, after about a week or two, most people are ready to transition to a partial hospitalization or intensive outpatient treatment program while continuing to receive supervised detox.
Outpatient detox can be a viable option for people with less severe use of benzos, who are not dependent on other substances, and who have supportive friends or family to help them through the process.
Although detox can be an important first step for Valium addiction, it is often not enough to help people achieve long-term success with sobriety because it does not address underlying issues associated with chronic substance misuse or addiction. After a successful detox, people may benefit from time in inpatient rehab or outpatient treatment.
Inpatient or outpatient rehab programs will help address not only the patient’s drug use but also other medical and mental health issues. These programs often utilize various therapies and help identify high-risk situations for drug use, life stressors, and triggers, and can aid in creating coping skills and techniques to positively alter behavior.
Valium Addiction Treatment in Atlanta
Taking the first steps to get help with your Valium addiction may seem scary or overwhelming. If you’re dealing with an addiction, it can be hard to think about your life without Valium. Yet, we are confident you can take this important first step and let all of us here at Buckhead Behavioral Health in Atlanta help you find a path to sobriety.
We offer custom-tailored Valium addiction detox and treatment programs, including supervised detox, medication-assisted treatment, and partial hospitalization and outpatient treatment options.
For further information about our Valium detox and addiction treatment or to speak to an intake specialist, please feel free to contact us.