Valium is a benzodiazepine that is commonly prescribed to treat anxiety. It is a minor tranquilizer that works to relieve anxiety by improving the activity of a neurotransmitter in the body called gamma-aminobutyric acid (or GABA). When a person’s body doesn’t have enough GABA, he or she experiences uncomfortable levels of anxiety.1,2
In addition to being an anti-anxiety medication, Valium is also prescribed to treat other conditions like:
- Alcohol withdrawal symptoms
- Muscle spasms
- Agoraphobia (fear of places that might cause panic, helplessness, or embarrassment)
- Panic attacks
- Irritable bowel syndrome
Although you need a prescription to get Valium, it is very widely abused in America. According to the SAMHSA 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, an estimated 6,050 individuals (ages 12 and older) abused prescription tranquilizers like Valium in 2015.3
Benzodiazepines like Valium have a high potential for abuse because when they are taken in high doses or with alcohol or other sedatives, they can produce a sense of euphoria.
Valium may have a lower potential for dependence and addiction than other similar drugs in the same class, like Xanax, Klonopin, and Ativan, but it may still cause addiction.4
Side Effects of Valium Abuse
Valium abuse can be defined as any use of the drug that is not as directed by a doctor. This could include:
- Taking a friend or parent’s prescription
- Taking a higher dose than prescribed by your doctor
- Taking Valium with other drugs and/or alcohol
- Taking Valium more often than prescribed
- Taking Valium for a longer period of time than was originally prescribed
Valium abuse can cause serious medical problems and uncomfortable side effects, including:
- Muscle weakness
- Double vision or blurred vision
- Memory problems
It is not recommended that people take Valium for more than four months, but stopping all Valium use suddenly can result in withdrawal symptoms. To safely stop taking this benzodiazepine, a person’s use must be gradually tapered down, which should be done under the supervision of a doctor or at a detox center.5
Signs, Symptoms, and Causes of Valium Addiction
It may not always be obvious when a person is abusing Valium, even if that person is your parent, spouse, best friend, or significant other. If you are suspicious that someone you know may be abusing Valium, he or she may show the following signs of abuse:
- Speech problems
- Uncharacteristic risky or aggressive behavior
- Loss of bladder control
- Frequent car accidents
Valium can be addictive, even if it is taken as prescribed by a doctor. So it’s important for loved ones to be aware of the signs of addiction. If you think you or a loved one might be addicted to Valium, there are several common signs of drug addiction you can look for.6 Signs of Valium addiction may include:
- Stealing valuables or money to buy more Valium.
- Neglecting important obligations at work, school, or home.
- Attempting but failing to stop using Valium, often multiple times.
- Developing a tolerance (needing larger or more frequent doses of Valium to get high).
- Having extreme urges and cravings for Valium that make it impossible to focus on anything else.
- Feeling a need to take Valium every day or several times a day.
- Continuing to use Valium even though you know it’s causing problems.
Drug addiction changes the way the brain functions, so it’s important to know that overcoming addiction is not simply a question of willpower. It will require professional treatment, behavioral therapy, and time to successfully live a life of sobriety after Valium addiction.
Valium Detox and Addiction Treatment
If a person is abusing Valium, he or she cannot just stop taking it on their own. This could result in serious or even life-threatening withdrawal symptoms.4 Physical effects of Valium withdrawal often include:
To safely stop abusing Valium, a person will need to do so under medical supervision. Many individuals who are entering treatment for drug addiction do so by starting with a medically supervised drug detox program. A high-quality detox center will be able to provide medical and clinical supervision to help the addicted person manage the physical and emotional side effects of Valium withdrawal.
At Hill Country Detox, our multidisciplinary team provides a comprehensive assessment to analyze the needs of each client. The results of that assessment are then used to design an individualized drug detox plan to meet their every need. This plan is adjusted and tailored as the client’s needs change.
During drug detox for Valium addiction, medical staff will regularly monitor the client’s vitals and progress as they treat the uncomfortable symptoms of Valium withdrawal. This allows for a safe and comfortable withdrawal experience in which the client is gradually brought down into a sober state.
Medically assisted drug detox at Hill Country Detox is also designed to prepare each client for entry into a long-term drug and alcohol rehab program, where they will gain the life skills and tools to live a sober life.
Valium addiction is a serious and life-threatening disease and should be treated with urgency. If you would like to learn more about our benzodiazepine detox program or you need help getting a loved one to enroll in drug detox, please call Hill Country Detox today. Our knowledgeable staff is available to answer questions and provide intervention assistance if necessary.