Valium abuse and addiction are dangerous and can be life-threatening. As a benzodiazepine, Valium is not only highly addictive, but it can be potentially life-threatening to stop taking it once a person has become addicted. The drug also has sedative properties, making it easy to overdose on, especially when it is mixed with alcohol, opioids, or other benzodiazepines.
Unfortunately, since Valium is a prescription medication, many people overlook the dangers and risks associated with taking this drug. We’re here to share everything people should know about Valium abuse, addiction, and withdrawal.
What is Valium?
Valium (diazepam) is a benzodiazepine medication that is used to treat anxiety disorders, seizures, and alcohol withdrawal syndrome. It may sometimes be used to treat insomnia, muscle spasms, or for sedation before a medical procedure.
Valium works by producing GABA in the brain, a neurotransmitter that regulates electrical and chemical activity throughout the nervous system. When a person doesn’t make enough GABA naturally, they may struggle with panic attacks, anxiety attacks, insomnia, and other emotional and mental difficulties. Valium jumpstarts GABA production to make patients calm and relaxed.
When prescribed, the medication usually comes in tablet form, however, there is a liquid form that is available in medical settings. Valium has longer-lasting effects than other benzodiazepines, so Valium is usually taken once or twice per day.
Most physicians will not prescribe Valium for long-term use. This is because people who take Valium for longer than 4-6 weeks may become physically dependent on the drug, resulting in withdrawal symptoms when they attempt to quit taking it
Valium Side Effects
All medications have side effects, however, people who abuse their medication are more likely to experience side effects than people who do not. Common side effects of Valium include:
- Blurred vision
- Lack of coordination
- Muscle weakness
- Memory problems
- Difficulty urinating
This medication is generally safe and tolerated well when taken correctly. Problems arise when people begin taking Valium in too high of doses in order to achieve a state of euphoria.
Many people who abuse Valium do so because they are seeking the relaxing and sedating effects the drug produces. Others will mix Valium with other substances, such as alcohol or opioids, to enhance the effects of both substances. Whatever the case may be, prescription drug abuse has many risks.
Valium is often prescribed to people who already struggle with depression and anxiety. And, since people with depression and anxiety are more susceptible to drug abuse, it is easy to see how and why this medication is abused so often.
Unfortunately, as with any drug of abuse, long-term Valium abuse is dangerous. People who abuse this medication long-term will begin developing a tolerance. As a result, someone who previously felt the effects of the medication after taking a low dose will need to continue increasing their dose in order to feel the effects.
Once people develop a tolerance, they have to increase their dosage. The body then gets used to having Valium in the system and it becomes dependent on the drug to function normally. When drug dependence occurs, people will experience withdrawal symptoms when they attempt to stop taking the drug.
Another major risk associated with Valium abuse is the risk of overdose. Taking too much Valium at once or mixing it with other central nervous system depressants can lead to a potentially fatal overdose.
Symptoms of Valium overdose include:
- Blue-colored lips
- Double vision
- Extreme drowsiness
- Difficulty breathing
- Muscle weakness
- Uncoordinated movements
- Loss of consciousness
If someone is overdosing on Valium, emergency medical personnel should be notified immediately.
Signs of Valium Addiction
Anyone who misuses Valium is at risk for addiction. Those who have built a tolerance and developed a physical dependence on the drug may already be addicted. However, there are other behavioral signs that indicate an addiction to be aware of.
Common signs of a Valium addiction include:
- Doctor shopping in order to obtain multiple prescriptions from multiple different doctors
- Lying to friends, family, and physicians about medication abuse
- Isolating from loved ones or activities one once enjoyed
- Continuing to take Valium despite a social or health problem that is made worse due to the drug abuse
- Ignoring obligations and responsibilities
- Using Valium in a way that is not indicated on the prescription label (i.e. crushing, snorting, or injecting the drug)
People who are addicted to Valium will also experience withdrawal symptoms when they attempt to stop using the drug suddenly. Symptoms of Valium withdrawal include:
- Stomach cramps
- Muscle aches and pains
- Lack of appetite
- Panic attacks
- Memory issues
- General body weakness
- Heart palpitations
- Muscle twitches
Some of these withdrawal symptoms are life-threatening and can result in death if left untreated. For this reason, anyone suffering from Valium addiction should seek help from a drug rehab center near them.
Help for Valium Abuse and Addiction
If you or a loved one have become addicted to Valium, it’s time to get help. Stopping the medication cold-turkey may cost you your life, however, continuing to take it can be just as harmful. Rather than struggling alone, give us a call. One of our dedicated treatment providers will speak with you, assess your needs, and connect you with a local drug rehab center. Call now.
Medically Reviewed: September 25, 2019
All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.