Valium Addiction, Abuse, and Treatment

Valium addiction is a serious issue for many people in America. While this prescription medication can be beneficial for those who need it and who use it responsibly, it can become addictive under the right circumstances.

Valium Abuse

What is Valium?

Valium (diazepam) is a prescription medication that is common prescribed for muscle tension, depression, and alcohol withdrawal symptoms. It is a sedative, which means it slows the body’s processes to help achieve a specific result. Those who feel anxious, for instance, may feel calm and more at ease while taking Valium. It also helps loosen stiff muscles, making it commonly used by those with certain conditions in which chronic pain is an issue.

Valium abuse is any use of the medication against doctor’s orders, or use without a prescription. You should never take someone else’s prescription medication, even if you feel you would benefit from it.

Valium Effects

Those who take Valium may feel relaxed, calm, and tight muscles may find relief. It may also lead to tiredness or drowsiness in some, leading many users to take it as a cure for insomnia. Taking Valium while trying to quit drinking may also help reduce the effects of alcohol withdrawal and lead to a sense of calm to help overcome the addiction.

Is Valium highly addictive?

Yes, Valium (diazepam) is highly addictive if taken at higher doses or frequencies than what is prescribed. Valium is often used to treat depression, muscle tension, and alcohol withdrawal symptoms. When taken in higher doses, Valium can cause symptoms similar to those of drinking alcohol.

When taken in excess, however, Valium may cause symptoms similar to those of drinking alcohol. These can include:

  • Slurred speech
  • Staggering while walking
  • Poor decision making skills
  • Reduced interpersonal skills
  • Sleepiness and delayed reaction time
  • Reduced cognitive function or perception of surroundings

Over time, symptoms may include slowed cognitive function, memory issues, shortened attention span, and impaired judgement.

Valium addiction occurs when someone becomes dependent on the drug for day to day function. Troubling symptoms may occur when he or she hasn’t had a dose in a while. These are called withdrawal symptoms. Addiction may lead to additional symptoms, such as:

  • Clumsiness and an inability to complete simple physical tasks
  • Mood swings, depression, and anxiety – the very things Valium is used to treat
  • Aggression, even in those with no history of violence or aggressive behavior
  • Physical dependence on the drug as well as a mental dependence which prevents the person from functioning at work or school without taking Valium

Who’s at Risk?

valiumAnyone who takes Valium, especially when it’s being taken against a doctor’s recommendations or without a prescription, can become addicted. For this reason, it’s very important to only take this medication under a doctor’s supervision, and exactly as directed. Additionally, some individuals are more likely to become addicted than others:

Valium abuse is more common among veterans, for instance, who may suffer from co-occurring disorders. Depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and anxiety are all more common among veterans, all of which may lead to self-medication with drugs like Valium.

Those in high-powered careers may also abuse Valium. This often starts with taking the drug for its sedative properties due to anxiety or insomnia, but can soon spiral into addiction.

Teens and college students are also at risk, especially if they have parents or family members who have been prescribed Valium.

Warning Signs

It’s not always easy to tell when someone has slipped into an addiction, especially if the drug they are addicted to is one they are taking with a doctor’s prescription. You may not always even be able to determine an addiction in yourself until you’re well entrenched in dependent drug use.

What are the effects of excessive Valium intake?

When Valium is taken in excessive amounts, it can cause slurred speech, staggering walking, poor decision-making, and other symptoms similar to those of alcohol intoxication. In the long run, Valium may also lead to memory issues, slowed cognitive function, and impaired judgment.

What are the signs of Valium addiction?

Signs of Valium addiction include:

  • Taking a higher dose of Valium daily
  • Taking the drug to normally function throughout the day
  • Compulsive intake of Valium
  • Behavioral changes and aggression
  • Unsuccessfully trying to stop taking Valium

Ways to detect addiction in yourself:

  • You use the drug every day, especially in amounts higher than medically suggested
  • You can’t function without the drug
  • You can’t seem to stop taking the drug, even if it begins to affect your home life, work performance, or school work
  • Friends and family have mentioned behavioral changes or aggression since you started taking the drug
  • You’ve tried to quit unsuccessfully

Ways to tell if a loved one is addicted:

  • He or she has suddenly stopped caring about their physical appearance and personal hygiene
  • He or she exhibits behavioral changes such as aggression, irritability, or has become suddenly withdrawn
  • He or she seems drunk, slurred, or incapacitated on a regular basis
  • His or her school or work performance has suffered
  • He or she frequently asks for money without sufficiently explaining why it is needed
  • He or she seems to need more of the drug than originally prescribed just to feel normal, or you notice they require more refills than medically suggested

Valium Statistics

  • In 2011 alone, doctors prescribed Valium almost 15 thousand times.
  • It has been reported that nearly 1.2 million people had not used benzodiazepines as directed in 2013, abusing the drug class – which includes Valium.
  • The total number of benzodiazepine treatments rose nearly three-fold between 1998 and 2008.

Treatment for Valium Abuse

The first step in finding help for Valium abuse is acknowledging that there is a problem. Once this has been established, a drug counselor can guide you or your loved one to the appropriate next steps.

Support groups and outpatient counseling are two popular options for those who have drug addictions. These are beneficial for many, but inpatient facilities offer more hope for getting clean and sober without relapse over the long-term. They begin by helping the user detox off the drug, and then counseling and peer support offered within the framework of a safe location where access to drugs is limited.