Valium Addiction

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Valium is a brand-name version of diazepam, a benzodiazepine class drug. Diazepam remains a commonly prescribed medication used to treat seizures, muscle spasms, alcohol use withdrawal, anxiety, and insomnia. However, addiction experts have repeatedly warned the medication is overprescribed. Benzodiazepines like Valium work as sedatives and slow down the brain and body, causing feelings of calmness. Higher doses result in extreme tiredness, which helps individuals who have insomnia or other sleep disorders fall and stay asleep. 

Valium is a drug with a high risk of addiction. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 16% of all overdose deaths involve benzodiazepines like Valium. You can get more general information about this class of drugs by visiting our Benzodiazepines Addiction page.


What Is Valium Addiction?

Not everyone who experiences dependency or develops a tolerance becomes addicted to Valium. Researchers are unsure precisely why some people develop substance use disorders (SUD) and others do not. More studies need to be conducted on the subject to determine specifics. However, they do know genetics appear to play some role along with other factors. 

Addiction occurs when withdrawal effects are present, and the preoccupation with using or getting more Valium interferes with your ability to function from day to day. The physical and psychological impact of SUD both require treatment from medical professionals. 

 

Common Adverse Reactions to Valium Misuse

The Food and Drug Administration lists the possible adverse reactions known to occur after misusing Valium. You may notice some or all of the following:

  • Amnesia
  • Dry mouth
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Dizziness, confusion, and inability to focus
  • Blurred vision
  • Slurred speech
  • Tremors and weakness
  • Vertigo
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Hypotension
  • Unusual irritability, anger, and aggression
  • Hallucinations, delusions, or psychosis
  • Insomnia, nightmares, and other sleep disturbances
  • Sexual dysfunction

In addition, rebound anxiety has been documented in individuals who abruptly stop taking Valium. You can avoid the accompanying mood changes and anxiety by working with a team of professionals to taper off the drug safely. 

 

Signs and Symptoms of Misuse

The signs and symptoms of Valium misuse are similar to those experienced by individuals addicted to other benzodiazepines. You may notice the following behavioral and mood changes:

  • Secretive behavior surrounding medication use
  • “Doctor shopping” in person or online to get multiple prescriptions
  • Borrowing or stealing money to afford legal or illicit Valium
  • Isolating from friends and family
  • Hiding stashes of Valium around the home
  • Using the Valium prescribed to others
  • A preoccupation with getting and using Valium
  • Sudden mood changes including unusual anger, irritability, anxiety, or fear
  • Sudden unusual tiredness, lack of coordination, or confusion

Not everyone reacts to abusing Valium in the same way. Therefore, you may notice none, one, or all of the signs listed above. However, keep in mind there may be other reasonable causes for the behaviors, so consider the context. 

 

What Sets Valium Apart

Several things set Valium apart from other benzodiazepines. The drug is quicker to start working and longer-lasting. Valium has anticonvulsant properties and can treat seizures, muscle cramps, and some alcohol withdrawal symptoms, which is not the case for some other benzodiazepines. The side effects tend to be less severe than similar drugs. The many positive uses make Valium a very popular medication that leads to overprescribing to vulnerable demographics, increasing the risk of patients developing a SUD involving Valium. 

 

Valium and Alcohol Use Disorder

Diazepam is one of the benzodiazepines used to treat alcohol use and acute alcohol use disorders. However, treatment can get more complicated when you present with both alcohol use disorder (AUD) and SUD involving Valium. Benzodiazepines can treat withdrawal side effects, including seizures, muscle cramps, and anxiety. Inform your care team if you have an AUD. 

Risk Factors Associated With Valium Addiction

The known risk factors associated with Valium addiction are similar to those of other benzodiazepines. They include:

  • Lower socioeconomic status
  • Poverty or financial stress
  • Being diagnosed with alcohol use disorder or acute alcohol use disorder
  • Personal or family history of substance use or mental health disorders
  • Genetic predisposition
  • High levels of personal or professional stress
  • Severe injury, illness, or disability

Education about Valium abuse, risks, and relapse prevention are essential before and during treatment. Community education aimed towards at-risk groups explaining the dangers of misusing the drug may help some individuals avoid falling into the dangerous cycle of Valium abuse. 

 

Treatment and Therapy Options

You may require a mixture of medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and psychotherapy during rehabilitation. The most common types of treatment for Valium addiction include:

  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • Motivational Interviewing (MI)
  • Contingency Management (CM)
  • Matrix Model
  • Mindfulness Therapy
  • Alternative Therapies

MAT use varies by individual and remains highly personalized throughout treatment. 

 

How to Help a Loved One

If you believe that a loved one may be showing signs of Valium addiction, you can provide them with educational information and resource options. Sometimes using the services of a trained interventionist is necessary to facilitate voluntary treatment. Open and honest communication is essential when you approach them. Learn more about how to help your loved one by visiting the following informative page on the National Institute on Drug Abuse

We are here for you

You may find it challenging to overcome substance use disorders involving Valium, but you are not alone. Qualified medical professionals are ready to help you rebuild your life and create a new, healthy foundation for your future. The White House Recovery and Detox staff understands the challenging nature of recovery, and we are here to make the process smooth and easy. Contact us to learn more and start healing today.