Valium (diazepam) is a prescription medication commonly used to treat anxiety and seizure disorders. . The drug belongs to a class of medications called benzodiazepines, or benzos for short. While Valium has some medical uses, it can lead to addiction and lasting health problems, even when used as prescribed.
Benzodiazepines like Valium interact with GABA receptors in the brain. These receptors suppress certain functions of the brain when activated, decreasing anxiety and causing relaxation. The activation of GABA receptors also decreases the chances that a seizure will happen. For these reasons, Valium is used medically to help with anxiety, reduce the risk of seizures and treat muscle spasms. Over 5.7 million Valium prescriptions were written in 2019, making it the 117th most commonly prescribed drug in the U.S.
Although Valium has legitimate medical uses, it is also commonly abused as a recreational drug. One of the effects of Valium is that it releases chemicals in the brain called endorphins. These chemicals create a pleasurable feeling, and some people use Valium solely to experience this effect.
Valium is considered to be a potentially addictive medication. The label for Valium includes a warning stating that it can be addictive and cause dependence, even when taken as prescribed.
Valium addiction occurs because it causes the release of endorphins in the brain. These chemicals are released naturally by the brain to cause pleasure and reinforce behaviors. For example, eating a donut releases a small amount of endorphins because your brain subconsciously wants to reinforce the behavior of eating high-energy foods.
While natural endorphins are often helpful, the endorphins released from using Valium are artificial and caused solely by chemical reactions. Your brain connects the use of Valium with the release of endorphins and determines that taking Valium is a desirable behavior. Each use of Valium builds and strengthens this effect, eventually leading to addiction.
Notable statistics about Valium abuse and addiction include:
The side effects of Valium are primarily related to how the drug suppresses brain activity. These side effects can affect many different systems throughout the body and are more likely to occur when Valium is used frequently or in higher doses. Side effects of Valium include:
Someone who is overdosing on Valium can become unresponsive and stop breathing. If you or someone you are with may be overdosing on Valium, immediately call 911 and seek emergency medical attention.
Mixing Valium and alcohol can be very dangerous. These substances both work on the same type of receptors in the brain, creating an additive effect that boosts the effects of each substance. As a result, it is much easier to experience a Valium overdose or alcohol poisoning when mixing these two substances.
While the increased risk of overdose is an important reason to avoid mixing Valium and alcohol, there are other potential negative effects as well. Since mixing Valium and alcohol enhances the side effects of each substance, you will be more likely to injure yourself or others. You also increase the risk of unpleasant medical symptoms that you may not have experienced otherwise.
Valium withdrawal can be more dangerous than many other types of withdrawal because it increases the risk of seizures. When Valium use ends, GABA receptors will be less responsive than normal because they are used to the presence of Valium. This makes them less likely to perform their normal function of suppressing brain signals, causing hyperactivity in the brain until the body can adjust GABA receptor function back to its normal levels. Valium withdrawal symptoms are primarily related to brain hyperactivity.
Withdrawal symptoms of Valium can include:
One of the most significant risks of Valium detox is seizures. Seizures can result in injury or even death, so medically supervised detox is normally recommended for anyone who is likely to have Valium withdrawal symptoms.
Medically supervised Valium detox occurs in a controlled environment where symptoms can be monitored and treated quickly. This not only helps prevent or quickly treat seizures that can potentially occur, but also helps manage other unpleasant symptoms that often occur with Valium withdrawal. This medically assisted approach helps Valium detox to be a safer and more comfortable process.
The type of Valium addiction treatment needed will vary based on an individual’s unique circumstances. Typically, Valium addiction treatment will involve a detox phase, a rehab phase and a maintenance phase. The detox phase involves stopping the use of Valium and dealing with the symptoms of withdrawal until they are over. Rehab addresses the factors that led to addiction in the first place and teaches strategies for safeguarding the progress made during detox. The maintenance phase is the long-term stage of living life without turning to substance use.
Rehab and detox can take place in an inpatient or outpatient setting, depending on your treatment needs. Outpatient treatment involves carrying on your life as normal while routinely visiting the rehab facility for recovery care. Inpatient treatment is more intensive and involves living on-site at the rehab center while undergoing treatment.
The Recovery Village Columbus has a proven record of helping those with Valium addiction achieve lasting recovery and live a healthier, drug-free life. If you or someone you love is ready to find help for Valium abuse and addiction, contact us today to learn more about treatment programs that can work well for your needs.
The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.