Valium Abuse and Addiction

Valium (Diazepam) abuse and addiction

Valium is the brand name of Diazepam which is a benzodiazepine. Medical doctors will prescribe Valium generally to treat anxiety.

Valium dosage is available in tablets that have 2 mg, 5 mg, or 10 mg of Diazepam. It has been a popular drug for its ability to relax the muscles, and for its sedative properties. It's used to treat mood disorders like anxiety and is also administered for someone who is dealing with intense alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

Diazepam is combined with other drugs to prevent muscle spasms and treat seizures. This is one of the reasons it will be prescribed to someone going through alcohol withdrawal.

Alcohol withdrawal can cause delirium tremens and benzodiazepine help a person taper off from their addiction safely.

What is Valium?

Valium has been a popular prescription drug because of the many effects it has on the body. While it can be useful for many ailments, it can be abused easily with the possibility of addiction. Diazepam will often be prescribed for;

  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Muscle spasm and seizures
  • Management of alcohol withdrawal
Valium Addiction

How Valium (Diazepam) Works

Valium, and other drugs in the family of benzodiazepines, strengthens the effects of neurotransmitters in the brain known as GABA.  This causes neurotransmitters to depress many of the brain's processes, slowing the brain down. It reduces anxiety and results in less brain activity as a whole. Valium is meant to be prescribed short-term and does have the capacity to assist greatly when prescribed and managed properly.

The problem lies within Valium abuse and addiction. Diazepam does offer a high, especially when combined with other substances and alcohol. There is also abuse happening when Valium dosage is ignored. As of 2011, Valium was one of the most common prescription drugs in the sedative category to be abused. There were approximately 15 million prescriptions written for Valium last year.

Valium Abuse

Valium Addiction

If someone is given a prescription for Valium, it's advised that they don't use it for more than 4 months. Using the drug for longer has shown to increase the likelihood of addiction. The potential for drug abuse is so high and it can quickly turn to physiological dependence, a Diazepam tolerance, and addiction. Especially for those with anxiety, Valium gives a nice sense of relaxation. This is the attribute of the drug that has caused such a high abuse rate. It is considered to be one of the more addictive benzodiazepines in its drug class.

When Valium addiction sets in, withdrawal symptoms will occur when the person abstains.

The symptoms can be quite severe and may include seizures or convulsions. Tapering off is usually recommended when taking Diazepam for a long period of time. It may take a medical detox along with holistic rehabilitation to recover successfully.

Addiction to Valium

Valium Abuse

Valium, being a part of benzodiazepine drug class, is popular for those looking to get high through the depressant effects. It is the sixth most abused prescription drug that people are getting addicted to. For those who abuse Diazepam, they will often combine it with alcohol and other drugs. It is considered Valium abuse when;

  • A user takes excess Valium dosage past the recommendations of a doctor.
  • Using Valium when it hasn't been prescribed to them.
  • Taking it through injection or snorting it as opposed to orally (its original form.)

People who abuse Valium will often smash it into powder and mix it in water so they can take it via needle or snort it. This is so they can get a more powerful Valium high. Once people start abusing Diazepam this way, they're more likely to become addicted.

Signs of Diazepam Addiction and Abuse

Signs of Diazepam Addiction/Abuse

There are a variety of signs and symptoms that will physically manifest and change someone's behavior when they abuse Diazepam.

Here are some of the symptoms of Valium abuse and addiction:

  • The person will exhibit strong cravings for Valium.
  • They may isolate themselves from family and friends.
  • Even though their lives are falling apart (because of Valium abuse), they will continue to use it.
  • They won't have an interest in activities that were once enjoyable for them.
  • They may ignore obligations like going to work or doing school assignments.

When someone is abusing Valium and they run out of Valium, there will be withdrawal effects. These are also symptoms of dependence. It's important to seek out medical assistance if you suspect someone has Valium addiction. If someone has been abusing Valium to the point of addiction, it can be dangerous for them to withdraw without assistance. The symptoms of withdrawal will be easy to define and you will know there's a problem. Seek help immediately if you know someone is using Valium and has the following signs of withdrawal;

  • They may be drowsy and sedated.
  • If you tell them something, they may not remember it.
  • They may complain of dizziness, muscle weakness, nausea, or difficulty seeing properly.
  • They may vomit.
  • Their eyes will become dilated.
  • They may become confused.
  • They may lose inhibitions which will cause them to act strangely.
  • They may hallucinate.
  • They might talk about suicide or injuring themselves.
  • They may become depresse.
  • They may become hostile or agitated.
  • They may have seizures or tremors.
  • They may lose control of their bladder.

A symptom of Diazepam abuse may become evident through someone's inability to drive properly. The sedating function of Valium causes the brain to work more slowly, meaning a driver won't respond quickly. Highway safety has eluded to the fact that Valium can contribute to accidents. Even if someone has used Valium the night before, it can still affect the user the following day. One of the symptoms a Valium addict will adopt is a loss of judgement. Even if they recognize they shouldn't drive, they will likely do it anyway. Other bad judgments may include mixing Valium with alcohol or opiates.

Valium (Diazepam) High

People that are prescribed Valium often have problems with anxiety. The Valium high a person gets from taking the recommended dosage will give the person a feeling of normality from their stress. They feel a sense of calm they can't create for themselves and will even feel a sense of euphoria. The more a person alters it or deviates from the recommended Valium dosage, the more of a high they'll experience. Users have said that Valium makes you feel as though you don't have a problem in the world. If your house was burning down during a Valium high, you wouldn't react. While this may be an over exaggeration, it does affect the brains chemistry to not react over things

Valium (Diazepam) Overdose Symptoms

Valium (Diazepam) Overdose Symptoms

People often don't regard Valium as dangerous because it's prescribed by doctors. When someone takes the recommended Valium dosage, it is safe and helpful. However, it's when people take more than they should that it becomes dangerous and even life-threatening. When people don't take the drug seriously, there's a tendency to overdose more easily. Here are signs of Valium overdose;

  • Lips or toes may turn blue.
  • They may have difficult seeing.
  • They won't be able to breathe properly.
  • They will appear drowsy and weak.
  • Their movements will be awkward and uncoordinated.

What Happens when you Mix Valium and Alcohol or Other Substances

The warning label on Valium specifically states that you shouldn't mix Valium and alcohol. Many people do because Diazepam increases the effects of alcohol. This is when most overdoses that are associated with Valium will occur. Mixing opiates and alcohol with Valium has an effect on the central nervous system all at once. Each of these substances feed off of one another and they increase in strength when mixed.

If you drink too much alcohol while you've taken Valium, it can kill you. Diazepam was a factor in over 400,000 emergency room patients.

For patients that had overdosed on Valium, 27% involved alcohol being mixed. A report through the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly also stated that over 25% of people who died from benzodiazepine overdoses were also drinking alcohol at the same time.  Some of the outcomes also include accidents that lead to serious injury, loss of consciousness, brain damage, or falling into a coma.

Valium and Alcohol

Valium Abuse Side Effects

When someone is abusing Valium, there are some side effects that can indicate long-term abuse.

  • Their appearance may change which includes bad hygiene (greasy hair and they may smell of body odor.)
  • They speak and move slower.
  • They may shake.
  • Their eating habits change drastically.
  • They lose their coordination.
  • They may have a hard time sleeping or they can't sleep at all.

Someone addicted to Valium that has been using it for a long time will show an increase in the side effects that are common with Valium. These include;

  • Problems remembering things.
  • Constant drowsiness.
  • Dizziness.
  • They may feel restless or irritable.
  • They are weak and don't want to participate in activities.
  • They may drool or have slurred speech.
  • They may have a chronic skin rash.
  • They lose interest in sex.

If you notice someone you care about is showing signs of Valium abuse, there is help available. Inpatient/outpatient treatment can allow the person to safely recover from the addiction while determining what made them abuse it in the first place.

Valium Withdrawal Symptoms

What to Expect During Valium Withdrawal

Valium withdrawal is one of the health risks when someone abuses Valium. Even one missed dose when someone is addicted to Diazepam can result in symptoms like body tremors, psychosis, stomach pain, irritability and feeling of numbness in the body. The anxiety that they experienced before starting the Valium may come back. The anxiety symptoms will often be worse than before. Here are some of the withdrawal symptoms that will indicate Valium addiction.

  • The person may feel nausea which can lead to vomiting.
  • They may have blurred vision.
  • They may obsess about something unrelated to the moment.
  • They may experience an increase in their heart beat and elevated blood pressure.
  • They may have tight muscles all of a sudden.
  • They will seem extremely restless.
  • They may hallucinate.
  • They may have a seizure.

Valium vs. Xanax

Diazepam is the active ingredient in Valium whereas alprazolam is the active ingredient in Xanax. When comparing Valium vs. Xanax for anxiety treatment, the ingredients are both benzodiazepines. There are differences on how each affects activity within the body. While Valium acts more quickly to ease anxiety, the difference is quite minimal. Xanax may last a little longer in the body.

A study done in the 1980's suggested that Valium is more effective in controlling anxiety levels.

This was found to be the case when a person was also depressed. Valium is more likely to induce sleep in someone while Xanax does not have the ability to help someone with muscle spasms.

If you have a friend or family member who is abusing or addicted to Valium, there will likely be some obvious signs. They will lose their judgment which can lead to bazaar behaviors they didn't have before. The problem with this lack in judgement is that the longer it goes on for, the more likely they could seriously harm themselves. Valium abuse can come with serious consequences that can ruin a person's life. It's likely they'll need professional help to recover from Diazepam addiction.

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Full Infographic:

Valium Abuse and Addiction Infographic