Valium Addiction

Valium Addiction: Signs, Symptoms & Treatment

What is Valium?

Valium diazepam is a prescription medicine belonging to the class of drugs known as benzodiazepines. These are commonly used to treat several medical conditions, such as anxiety and seizures, as well as the signs and symptoms of acute alcohol withdrawal.

While Valium can be effective in treating conditions such as these, benzodiazepine prescriptions also pose a high risk for addiction. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), this and other benzodiazepines are currently classified as Schedule IV controlled substances.

Introduced in the 1960s as a treatment used to relieve anxiety, Valium diazepam spread like wildfire, becoming the most prescribed depressant drug in the United States. It is also used to deal with other health conditions including:

  • Muscle spasms
  • Treating sleep disorders
  • Restless leg syndrome


Valium produces its sedative effects in fewer doses, and for longer periods of time, than other shorter-acting benzos. This is because Valium is a long-acting benzodiazepine, and is mainly prescribed to treat short-term anxiety conditions and severe stress.

While Valium’s long-lasting nature certainly makes this drug an effective way to relieve stress, due to its high risk for abuse, it is not meant to be a long-term solution for these issues.

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How is Valium Used?

According to the DEA, Valium abuse is particularly common amongst adolescents and young adults who take this drug orally in its pill form, or crush Valium tablets into a powder. This can then be smoked, snorted, or dissolved in water and injected.

Valium is also often used alongside other drugs, including heroin and cocaine, as this can enhance the euphoric effects of these drugs. However, this also greatly increases an individual’s risk of experiencing unpleasant side effects, including overdose.

How Does Valium Affect the Body?

How Does Valium Affect the Body

Valium works by directly affecting the body’s central nervous system (CNS), changing GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) – a neurotransmitter that reduces or inhibits the activities of the nerve cells – levels in the brain. This helps to slow and even stop abnormal brain activities.

This interaction produces a calming effect, and occasional feelings of euphoria. It is also the reason for this drug’s effectiveness in stopping seizures and diminishing hyperactive brain function, as well as its ability to relieve severe stress.

What Does a Valium High Feel Like?

Someone who has been prescribed valium for their anxiety will not necessarily experience a high, per say. Rather, they will simply feel relaxed and more capable of handling day-to-day life.

However, the more an individual deviates from their prescribed dosage, or if used by someone who does not necessarily need this drug, the more they may begin to experience a Valium “high.”

A former Valium addict will likely describe having experienced extreme calm, and feeling as though they had no problems in life while high. In fact, they may have been incapable of reacting to any stress-inducing events due to the extremely sedative nature of this drug.

How Long Does Valium’s Effects On The Central Nervous System Last?

Compared to other benzodiazepines, this drug’s effects on a person’s brain can kick in as quickly as fifteen minutes after taking Valium, and last for up to six hours.

Furthermore, the half-life of Valium diazepam is considerably long, often taking nearly 20 hours for even just half of the dosage to be cleared from the system. In fact, this drug can take up to five weeks to be fully removed from a person’s body.

While this does not mean that the effects of taking Valium will last this long, the drug will be able to be detected by specific drug scans, such as hair and saliva tests during this period.

Is Valium Addictive?

Due to its ability to reduce mental health symptoms and produce euphoric sensations, Valium is highly prone to drug abuse. Particularly when taking frequent doses of Valium, individuals can form a physical dependence on it quite quickly; often without even realizing it.

This is because many people use Valium in order to feel normal, as it can be particularly effective in reducing anxiety. As an individual builds a tolerance to this drug, they may become dependent on it, requiring them to use Valium more frequently and in higher doses.

At this point, the individual has officially developed a substance addiction, and will likely need to seek out professional substance abuse treatment programs in order to safely and successfully recover from it.

Immediate Help For Valium Addiction

How Long Does it Take to Get Addicted to Valium?

Valium is not useful in treating long-term depression or anxiety disorders as, like all other benzodiazepine medicines, this drug does have the potential for misuse and addiction.

Even if someone has been given a prescription for this medication, taking more Valium, or for longer periods of time than directed can result in drug addiction.

Furthermore, there is a common misconception that Valium is safer to abuse than illicitly-produced street drugs. This, however, could not be further from the truth. When misused, Valium can cause a number of negative consequences in addition to forming an addiction to it. Along with alcohol and other substances consumed for stress relief, there has been some correlation shown between usage and hair loss.

How Can I Tell if Someone is Addicted to Valium?

Accepting that you or a loved one may have a problem with addiction can be incredibly difficult. However, acknowledging the issue is the first step in being able to recover from this substance abuse.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), major signs of an addiction to Valium or any other benzodiazepine include:

  • Taking the drug in larger amounts or for longer periods of time than originally intended.
  • Acquiring prescriptions from multiple different doctors and pharmacies in order to build a larger supply, or “doctor shopping.”
  • Regularly being unsuccessful in attempts to cut down or stop using the drug by oneself.
  • Spending large amounts of time acquiring, using, or recovering from the effects of the drug.
  • Experiencing strong drug cravings when not using.
  • Experiencing difficulties at work, school, or home due to drug use.
  • Continuing to use the drug despite this causing issues with personal, familial, and/or work relationships.
  • Giving up previously enjoyable hobbies and activities in order to continue using.
  • Repeatedly using the drug in situations that could be physically dangerous to oneself or others, such as driving, operating machinery, or otherwise.
  • Continuing to use the drug despite this potentially causing or worsening physical or psychological health issues.
  • Needing to use the drug in larger doses or more frequently in order to achieve a desired effect.
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not using the drug.

What are the Side Effects of Valium Addiction?

Using Valium as medically intended typically does not produce any harmful side effects. However, taking this drug without or outside of one’s prescription guidelines can cause several dangerous reactions.

Short-Term Side Effects

When abusing Valium over shorter periods of time, individuals may experience a number of uncomfortable side effects. While these may not necessarily be life-threatening, they can become dangerous if not properly addressed. These effects may include:

  • Slurred speech
  • Dry mouth
  • Changes in heart rhythm or rate
  • Decreased respiratory rate
  • Blurred vision
  • Trouble urinating
  • Nausea
  • Delayed reflexes
  • Appetite changes
  • Decreased memory consolidation
  • Confusion

Long-Term Side Effects

In addition to this drug’s short-term consequences, heavy use of Valium over a long period of time can result in powerful side effects on the body and brain. These side effects can be permanent and life-threatening, and may include:

  • Hallucinations
  • Memory loss
  • Slowed pulse
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Heart attack
  • Coma
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Is it Possible to Overdose on Valium?

People frequently do not perceive Valium as a potentially dangerous drug, especially when prescribed by a medical professional. However, taking too much Valium, especially with other drugs, can be extremely hazardous, and can quickly become fatal if not immediately treated.

The Dangers of Mixing Valium with Other Substances

Medically-prescribed Valium diazepam will come with a warning label that strongly advises against mixing this drug with other substances, particularly alcohol. Unfortunately, many people ignore this warning, as this combination may produce a stronger high or sedative effect.

However, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), taking benzodiazepines in combination depressants, such as alcohol or opioids, also significantly increases a person’s risk of experiencing a life-threatening overdose.

Thus, it is never recommended to abuse Valium with other dangerous substances. For those who choose to do so, or who have loved ones who engage in this behavior, being aware of the risks and signs of overdose can be life-saving.

Recognizing the Signs of Valium Overdose

Signs of Valium Overdose

There are several warning signs that can indicate if someone may be suffering from a Valium overdose. The most common of these are double vision, drowsiness, and feeling extremely weak. There also several other symptoms that may occur, including:

  • Blue-tinted toes, lips, and fingers.
  • Respiratory depression
  • Unresponsiveness or loss of consciousness
  • Uncoordinated and awkward movement

If you or a loved one experiences any of these signs after using Valium, it is critical that you seek out emergency medical assistance immediately, as these can quickly become fatal if left untreated.

What is Valium Addiction Treatment?

When treating a Valium addiction, this treatment process will typically incorporate a number of substance abuse recovery methods. This integrated treatment approach will allow individuals their best chance at achieving and maintaining their sobriety.

In the case of benzodiazepines, an individual’s treatment overview will likely include initial participation in a medically supervised detox process, before moving on to inpatient or outpatient treatment programs.

This may also include mental health treatment services as, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA), a large portion of individuals struggling with substance addictions also suffer from mental illness.

When it comes to Valium addiction, this relationship is, unfortunately, extremely prevalent. Thus, receiving both clinical and emotional support throughout their treatment process can be absolutely critical to their recovery from Valium abuse.

The Importance of Medical Detox in Valium Addiction Treatment

When recovering from a Valium addiction, the withdrawal process from this drug can be extremely uncomfortable, and even fatal when attempting to stop using without professional support.

If someone attempts to suddenly stop using Valium, this may result in potentially life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. This is why recovering at a medical detox treatment facility can be a crucial first step when attempting to overcome this addiction.

These treatment programs will slowly taper individuals off of their Valium use under constant clinical supervision and support, which can help ease uncomfortable symptoms and significantly reduce their risk of relapse.

This level of addiction treatment may also provide certain medications that can help manage cravings and unpleasant side effects from withdrawal, further allowing individuals to better maintain their abstinence from Valium.

Importance of Medical Detox in Valium Addiction Treatment

Valium Withdrawal Symptoms

When withdrawing from Valium, individuals may experience a number of both physical and psychological symptoms. This process includes an acute stage, typically occurring 1-4 days after their last dose, and a general withdrawal phase, which will last for around 10-14 days.

Some of the most common acute Valium withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stomach pain and cramping
  • Tremors
  • Increased blood pressure and heart rate
  • Confusion
  • Seizures
  • Cravings
  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Panic attacks and rebound anxiety

During general withdrawal, individuals may experience additional, although generally less intense symptoms, including lightheadedness, mild fever, chills, depressive episodes, and continuous anxiety.

Finding Valium Addiction Treatment Options and Support Near You

Valium addiction can be devastating not just for the addicted individual’s physical and emotional well-being, but for the people around them as well. If you or a loved one is struggling with benzodiazepine abuse, know that you are not alone, and help IS available.

At Find Addiction Rehabs, we are dedicated to connecting people like you with substance abuse treatment centers and recovery resources that can serve all of your personal care needs.

So make the right choice, and call our 24/7 hotline to get started on the road to recovery, where you can overcome your addiction and successfully achieve long-term sobriety, today!

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