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Valium Addiction: Side Effects, Treatment Programs

Valium Addiction Treatment

Doctors prescribe Valium to treat seizures, spasms and sometimes drug and alcohol addiction. However, Valium itself can be addictive when people misuse the medication. 

In 2013, nearly 14 million Americans were prescribed Valium and other benzodiazepines. Not everyone uses them properly. 

What are the dangers of Valium? Are there ways to beat Valium addiction? 

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Is Valium Dangerous?

Valium is a prescription drug that some people take as an anti-anxiety medication. Due to its effects as a nerve-depressant, doctors sometimes prescribe Valium to people with drinking problems. The effects of Valium can help some people withdraw from alcohol.

Valium is the brand name of diazepam, which is part of a drug category known as benzodiazepines. Benzos interrupt neurotransmitters between the brains and nerves that trigger feelings like fear and anxiety. People use valium as a remedy for:

  • Anxiety – Helps people be calmer and less nervous.
  • Alcohol withdrawal – Helps suppress alcohol addiction by creating the same depressing effect, without the toxins.
  • Insomnia – Valium can help people relax and sleep.
  • Muscle spasms – Physical twitches, sometimes related to anxiety.

Valium is a Schedule IV drug that can only be taken with a doctor’s prescription.

Prescription Valium Use: The Side Effects

If used properly at doctor-prescribed doses, Valium can have mild, benign side effects. A normal Valium user may experience:

  • Dry mouth – Users sometimes experience increased thirst on Valium.
  • Slowed heart rate – A common effect of depressant medication. 
  • Slowed breathing – Another effect of drugs that calm the nervous system.
  • Affected appetite –  At low doses, Valium may increase hunger. (Valium abusers often experience reduced appetite.)
  • Mild confusion – Momentary lapses in decision-making and reduced memory.

Additional side effects may include nausea, blurred vision and delayed reflexes. Some people have trouble urinating. These side effects are usually harmless and disappear after a short time. 

Why Do People Take Valium as a Recreational Drug?

Some people use Valium illegally to get “high” in the same way as with illicit drugs like heroin and cocaine. Though prescribed to help wean people off alcohol and downers, some people take and abuse Valium for its effects as a depressant.

When overconsumed, Valium itself can be a harmful and addictive drug. Valium abuse occurs when people do the following:

  • Take Valium in excess quantities that exceed the prescribed dosage.
  • Take Valium throughout the day, merely to get high.
  • Inject Valium or crush and snort the drug (like cocaine) to send it to the brain faster.

Valium is especially dangerous when people abuse the drug in combination with alcohol and other drugs.

Valium Abuse: Short-Term Effects

Valium slows the central nervous system by decreasing signals between the brain and body. This takes away feelings like anxiety, hunger and neediness. When a user takes too much Valium, he/she may feel states of:

  • Euphoria – A feeling of bliss, overjoy and light-headedness.
  • Wobbliness – A lack of physical coordination.
  • Inebriation – A state akin to drunkenness, where the user might come across as incoherent. 

Valium is intended for medicinal purposes. When people use Valium as a recreational drug for the above states, the experience is usually followed by a sharp come-down or crash.

Valium Hangover: The Undesired Effects

Once the effects of Valium overuse wear off, the brain rebounds and speeds up its processes. This reverses the drug’s effects with unpleasant results, including feelings of:

  • Irritation – The user might now become easily bothered, agitated or aggressive.
  • Anxiety – The exact feelings the user was trying to suppress (fear, insecurity) come back two-fold.
  • Fever – Valium abuse can raise a person’s body temperature.
  • Depression – The euphoric states of the Valium high often plunge into 180 mood-reversal once the effects wear off.

In worst-case scenarios of advanced valium addiction, the user may experience increased heart rates, seizures, cramps and body pain.

How Do People Get Addicted to Valium?

When a person abuses Valium, the drug loses its effects at normal doses. For the person to get the same “high” as before, he/she feels compelled to take higher and higher doses. 

In Valium abuse cycles, where the person takes the drug several times in a given day, each new use is meant to counteract the effects of the prior dose. What was once intended to take away unhealthy cravings for illicit drugs and alcohol now becomes its own danger cycle. 

Valium Addiction: Long-Term, Chronic Effects

When people abuse Valium over extended periods, the drug loses its medicinal benefits. Once the body becomes tolerant of Valium and the person becomes addicted, the drug becomes a harmful substance, possibly as dangerous as illicit downers. The long-term and sometimes chronic effects of Valium include:

  • Amnesia – Constant Valium abuse can cause partial memory loss.
  • Hallucinations – Long-time Valium addicts often see and hear things that aren’t there.
  • Respiratory damage – As Valium depresses the central nervous system more and more, it can impair a person’s breathing abilities.
  • Arrhythmia – The depressing effects of Valium can cause slowed heart rates. If mixed with other depressants (alcohol, heroin), it can be fatal.
  • Coma – Possible in cases of hard-core Valium abuse.
  • Cardiovascular damage – Valium abuse increases the likelihood of heart disease and heart attacks.

Valium abuse can put people in physical danger and financial jeopardy. A person could face legal consequences for obtaining Valium illegally without a prescription. An addicted individual might sink thousands of dollars into his/her Valium addiction. Under the influence, a person might commit dangerous stunts or attempt to use a firearm or operate a vehicle.

Treatment for Valium Addiction: Program Options

For people struggling with Valium addiction, there is help. Across the US, drug treatment centers offer rehab programs for all types of substance abuse, including Valium addiction. Treatment programs generally work in this order:

  • Detox – Begins the moment a person halts Valium use and abstains from the drug going forward. Cravings and withdrawal symptoms typically peak during the second and third days of abstinence. To avoid relapse, this should only be done under strict supervision.
  • Residential inpatient treatment – After detox, the person may enter a rehab facility. Residential rehab programs generally last 30-90 days. The patient stays at the facility for a full and lasting recovery. Daily schedules consist of private counseling, group therapy, education, wellness and health activities.
  • Outpatient treatment – An alternative to inpatient treatment is outpatient care, where the person comes to the rehab center in the daytime for treatment. Outpatient programs cover the same ground as residential programs. The more intensive outpatient programs require 20+ hours of weekly attendance.
  • Aftercare – An option for people who need further guidance or help once they finish treatment. Some treatment centers can link people with job-placement agencies and sober-living households.

Recovery from Valium addiction is possible for anyone who commits to sobriety. As with alcohol and illicit drugs, it’s hard to break free without guidance, supervision and care. Treatment centers help people achieve sobriety with evidence-based holistic treatment methods.

Get Help Today

Don't go through the process of recovery alone. There are people who can help you with the struggle you're facing. Get in touch with one today.

Make a Call

Get Help: Find Valium Addiction Treatment Centers

If Valium addiction has taken over the life of someone you know, get help immediately. Browse the drug and alcohol rehab treatment centers in your area and ask about their programs. Your call could save someone’s life.

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