Valium is the brand name of the drug, diazepam. It is part of a class of drugs known as benzodiazepines. This is the most commonly prescribed class of drugs in the United States. Most commonly used as anti-anxiety medications, benzodiazepines are also used as sedatives, as anticonvulsant medications, and as muscle relaxants. Benzodiazepines are relatively safe and well-tolerated in the short term if used as directed by a medical professional. In illicit use, benzodiazepines are used for their euphoric effect, and to enhance the effect of other drugs, like alcohol and opiates. The combination of benzodiazepine with other drugs can be deadly.
Valium Addiction: How Valium Works
Valium works by enhancing the effect of the neurotransmitter GABA in the brain. The enhancement is responsible for producing the therapeutic effects of Valium and for facilitating many of the side effects as well as dependence and withdrawal from these type of drugs. Other sedative-hypnotics, such as alcohol and barbiturates, have a similar enhancing effect on GABA. This is why Valium is often used to treat alcohol withdrawal. It is also the reason that mixing Valium with alcohol or barbiturates can be deadly.
Valium Addiction: Signs and Symptoms
It can hard for some people to admit to having a Valium addiction. If someone has any of the following symptoms, it could mean that they are addicted.
- Difficulty stopping Valium use
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms
- Inability to imagine life without Valium
- Slurred speech
- Uncoordinated movement
- Excessive fatigue
- Defensiveness when they are questioned about Valium use
- Acting unethically to get Valium-for example, going to multiple doctors to obtain the drug or pretending their medication was “lost” or “stolen” in order to get more.
- Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
- Mood swings
- Memory problems
- Financial problems
- Attempts to hide extent of Valium use
Valium Addiction: Dangers
Valium addiction can be extremely dangerous. Taking too much of the drug or combining it with other drugs or alcohol can quickly result in overdose and death. If a person becomes tolerant to the drug, they can experience extreme, even life threatening, withdrawal symptoms. Valium addiction can interfere with a persons ability to hold down a job or meet familial or social obligations. Valium use, especially while driving, can cause serious and potentially fatal accidents.
Valium Addiction: Withdrawal
Valium can be both physically addicting and habit forming. Even when taken as prescribed, long term Valium use can result in physical dependence and withdrawal. When used recreationally Valium is administered orally, intranasally, or intravenously. It is one of the most commonly misused pharmaceutical drugs in the United States.
Long term Valium use requires medically supervised withdrawal management. Whenever possible, Valium should be tapered slowly. Benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome can result when a long-term Valium user abruptly stops taking Valium. Symptoms can be severe and include severe antisocial behavior and drug seeking tendencies. Valium withdrawal has even been known to cause seizures and death in some cases.
Some other withdrawal symptoms include:
- Body shakes
- Rapid pulse
- Restlessness and anxiety
- Memory loss
- Loss of appetite