Sedative drugs such as Valium are effective for treating conditions such as anxiety, but they are also commonly abused because of how they the user feel. There are some who intentionally abuse Valium while others do so unintentionally.
Either way, treatment is necessary once an addiction develops. It is difficult to admit that use of Valium has crossed a line, but it is something that occurs quite frequently. Fortunately, there are many options for treatment here in the UK.
If you have been prescribed Valium, it is important that you are aware of the dangers of abusing this medication and that you know there is the potential for you to develop an addiction if you do.
Although Valium is considered one of the least potent benzodiazepine drugs, there is still potential for this medication to be abused and for an addiction to develop. It is recommended that Valium be used for a period of no longer than four months and only as prescribed to limit the risk for addiction.
If you allow your use of Valium to spiral out of control, you will need professional help to overcome an addiction that could potentially destroy your life.
What is Valium?
Valium is part of the benzodiazepine family of drugs that is used to treat a wide range of conditions. Some examples are:
- panic attacks
- alcohol withdrawal
- opiate withdrawal
- benzodiazepine withdrawal
- muscle weakness caused by stroke, spinal cord injury, or multiple sclerosis
- restless leg syndrome.
Valium is also used before and after certain surgical procedures and is often used as a substitution drug to help patients withdraw from other stronger benzodiazepine drugs (it is considered safer as it is longer acting and less potent). However, as with other benzos, prolonged use of Valium, or using it in a way that was not intended, can lead to an increased tolerance, physical dependence, and addiction.
How Does Valium Work?
Valium is a sedative drug that produces a calming effect. Because abnormal brain activity is responsible for feelings of anxiety, nervousness, sleeplessness, and seizures, it is necessary for the brain’s GABA receptors to be encouraged to produce more of this natural calming chemical.
GABA (gamma amino-butyric acid) is the brain’s inhibitory neurotransmitter responsible for slowing down brain activity. This can result in a sedative calming effect but may also, in some instances, cause euphoric feelings.
Valium works by stimulating the GABA receptors, which then produce more GABA that then helps to relieve the feelings of anxiety and nervousness. Maintaining the correct balance of chemicals in the brain can prevent the onset of seizures and dampen emotions.
Valium Abuse Causes
When Valium is taken exactly as directed, it is unlikely to cause an addiction. Nevertheless, prolonged use can lead to tolerance, eventually making the drug less effective than it was when first taken. This is often the cause of Valium abuse as people take more than the recommended dose to enhance the effects.
Even so, there are those who deliberately abuse Valium, taking it in large doses or mixing it with other substances such as alcohol or drugs. There are a variety of reasons for abusing drugs such as Valium; some might include:
Not uncommonly, people abuse this mediation looking for a way out of a boring everyday life.
Many admit that it was exactly their loved ones or the environment that caused their initial abuse.
Being the first forming environment for every person, the close-knit family can be a danger if someone is addicted.
Each person who deliberately abuses Valium will have their reasons for doing so. For some it offers the perfect way of escaping the painful memories of a traumatic experience, while for others, it could be allowing them to forget about an unstable home environment or relationship troubles.
When Valium is taken for a prolonged period, a tolerance to the effects will likely occur. This is because the brain and body adapt to the drug and adjust their physiological responses to it. As the use of Valium becomes the norm, brain function will be altered meaning that it will need more of the drug to get the same effects as when first using it.
Over time, it becomes harder for the brain and body to function normally without the substance. If you are in such a position, when you try to stop using the drug, you might notice several withdrawal symptoms, which are caused by the removal of the chemicals that your body has learned to rely on. This is known as a physical dependence and it tends to happen with prolonged use of Valium, even at therapeutic doses. Of course, dependence can also occur, and perhaps more quickly, in those abusing the drug at higher doses.
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Short-Term Effects of Valium
There are side-effects that can occur with Valium use, including:
- feeling as though you are spinning
- dry mouth
- memory problems
- blurred vision
- muscle weakness
- loss of balance
- slurred speech.
Long-Term Effects of Valium
Using Valium over an extended period significantly increases the risk for dependence and addiction. But you may also find that your short-term memory is affected with chronic use and your cognitive functioning may also become impaired.
Long-term Valium use may also cause or worsen the symptoms of depression and it may induce suicidal thoughts.
Developing an addiction to Valium means potentially developing other negative consequences aside from the impact on your mental and physical health.
If you continue to abuse Valium, for example, you will be at risk of suffering social isolation as your relationships with others will be affected. You might also be unable to work, resulting in loss of income and the financial problems associated with this.
When it comes to withdrawing from certain depressant substances such as alcohol, opiates or other benzodiazepines, Valium is often used as a way to lessen the impact of withdrawal. By introducing Valium while simultaneously decreasing the other substance, many of the worst withdrawal symptoms can be avoided while those that do occur may be less severe. Medication include:
Conversely though, when trying to withdraw from Valium, other types of benzodiazepines might be used. If so, this will be done as Valium is withdrawn and then the dose of the new benzodiazepine will be tapered until you are completely drug-free.
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The Dangers of Valium
Valium is particularly dangerous when used in the elderly, who tend to feel the effects more intensely. Older patients using this medication could be more likely to suffer falls, possibly leading to physical injury. They may also be more likely to suffer confusion, loss of balance, hangover-type effects, and memory problems.
While Valium is considered safe when taken over a short period and when taken exactly as directed, it is potentially dangerous when mixed with other substances. Many people use Valium with alcohol or other drugs to enhance its effects, but this can lead to an increased risk of overdose, with potentially fatal consequences.
Valium is a sedative drug, so combining it with other sedatives or central nervous system depressants such as alcohol or opiate drugs, can cause breathing and heart rate to slow down. This could result in respiratory distress, heart failure, loss of consciousness, coma, and even death.
As well as the risk of overdose, mixing Valium with another substance increases the risk of addiction. And developing an addiction to Valium may mean severe implications for health and other aspects of your life. Your relationships will suffer as you become preoccupied with the medication and you could lose interest in people and activities that you used to enjoy. Valium addiction can affect your quality of life, and without treatment it will continue to get worse.
You might also find yourself taking desperate measures to get the medication, particularly if your doctor stops your prescription. If you feel as though you are unable to function normally without Valium, you might begin searching for it elsewhere, which could lead you to online suppliers. You should be aware though that buying Valium online is extremely dangerous as there is just no way of knowing if what you are buying is genuine.
The Cost of Valium Addiction
As mentioned above, Valium addiction comes at a terrible price. As with all other addictions, you are likely to become consumed by your need for Valium and it will take the place of everything else that was once important to you.
With no experience of addiction, it is hard to understand why addicts continue to use a particular substance when it is having such obvious negative side effects, but when you find yourself in the grip of such a problem, it is hard to think straight.
You may not even realise that your use of Valium has crossed a line, but those around you will see it more clearly than you. They will notice the changes in your behaviour, but they might not know the reasons behind it. This can lead to frustration and tensions within relationships, possibly causing an irreversible breakdown in some cases.
If you become preoccupied with Valium and are taking it more often, your ability to function could also become impaired. You might find it difficult to perform well at work and you may be forced to take days off. This could then affect your ability to earn an income and provide for your family, thus causing further tension.
Furthermore, if the most important thing to you is your medication, you might lose interest in spending time with your friends or taking part in activities or hobbies that you used to enjoy. This can lead to social isolation, which brings its own set of problems, particularly for your mental wellbeing.
Without treatment then, Valium addiction can cost you your health, relationships, financial stability, and any hope for the future.
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Valium Brand & Street Names
Valium is a brand name for the generic drug diazepam. Other brand and street names are:
- Diastat Acudial
- Diazepam Intensol
- Blue Vs
- Yellow Vs
- Dead flower powers
- Sleep away.
Management of Valium Misuse and Dependence
As you have probably ascertained reading through the paragraphs his guide, Valium misuse is something that requires urgent action as it can quickly lead to a physical dependence and addiction. If you have been taking more of your medication than advised, or if you have been mixing it with other substances, it is important to speak to your doctor as soon as possible.
You will need to stop taking Valium, but you should never attempt to quit the medication abruptly. A sudden cessation of benzodiazepine drugs such as Valium can result in withdrawal symptoms, which could, as mentioned above, be fatal.
It is likely that your doctor will advise a gradual reduction of the Valium over the course of a few weeks to a number of months. A slow reduction will help your body to adjust to the removal of the chemicals a little bit at a time, which can then help minimise the impact of withdrawal.
If you are worried about someone you love and believe that he or she might be abusing Valium, it is important to address the issue as soon as possible. Family members tend to hope that their suspicions are wrong when it comes to any type of addiction, and many will avoid the subject for as long as possible in the hope that the situation will somehow rectify itself.
Unfortunately, this rarely happens. What is much more likely to occur is that the addiction will progress and the impact on loved ones worsen. However uncomfortable the thoughts of raising the issue of addiction with a loved one makes you feel, it is better to address it sooner rather than later.
Do not be surprised if this person does not want to accept that his or her use of Valium is out of control. He or she could be convincing themselves that Valium is the only thing in their life that makes them feel good and so are frightened of having to give it up.
If you need advice on how to address the situation, can call us here at UKAT and talk to one of our friendly advisors. Alternatively, contact your doctor about how to encourage your loved one to get help.
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Valium and Other Substances
Valium is effective for treating a variety of conditions, but it can become less effective over time. When this happens, it is not uncommon for people to take more of it to gain the level of satisfaction they are looking for.
Nonetheless, tolerance to the new higher dose is also likely to occur after a while. At this point, there may be a fervent desire to enhance the effects by combining your medication with another substance. Below is a list of some of the substances that are commonly abused with Valium:
People will find that, both being system depressants, the effects of Valium are enhanced, but it can prove to be dangerous as too much slowing down of the system may cause severe effects.
Combining it with heroin can cause severe reactions and is highly dangerous.
The purposes of these two substances differ, but the effects can also be dangerous. Serious disorientation or inability to react on time are just a couple of the dangers.
When used by itself at therapeutic doses, Valium is considered a safe drug. However, when mixed with any of the above substances it can significantly raise the risk of an overdose, especially when it is taken with other substances that also depress the central nervous system.
Valium overdose can occur when too much of the drug is taken. As touched upon above, the risk for addiction increases when it is taken with other sedative substances. According to statistics, the number of deaths due to Valium poisoning in England and Wales was 285 in 2016.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) states that deaths from heroin/morphine often involve other drugs such as Valium, while three-quarters of all cocaine-related deaths also mention another drug or alcohol. Valium is commonly mentioned. In 2015, Valium was the most common type of benzodiazepine mentioned on death certificates; it was involved in 252 deaths.
It is important to look out for the following signs if you think you have taken too much Valium or if someone you know is a Valium user:
- Blurred vision
- Blueish nails or lips
- Breathing difficulties
If you do notice any of these signs in yourself or a loved one, it is important to seek help at once. Early intervention is the key to full recovery.
As already stated a few times already, your risk for Valium overdose increases with high doses of the drug or when you mix it with other substances. Taking Valium with another sedative substance can cause respiratory depression and slow down heartrate. If this happens, you are at risk of respiratory or heart failure.
Co-Occurring Disorders of Valium Abuse
While Valium is often prescribed for the treatment of mental health disorders such as anxiety and panic attacks, prolonged use can cause, or contribute to, other mental health problems such as depression.
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It is common for substance abuse and mental health disorders to co-exist. And treating both conditions at the same time is vital. Without addressing both issues simultaneously, there is a risk of reverting to the same situation again at a later date.
- bipolar disorder
- antisocial personality disorder.
Due to the complex nature of co-occurring disorders, specialist treatment will probably be necessary. Struggling with both Valium addiction and a mental health problem means being treated in a facility that specialises in dual diagnosis treatment.
Valium Abuse Treatment Self-Care at Home
Realising that your use of Valium has crossed a line may not come easy to you, but if you can recognise the signs of abuse then you may have a better chance of tackling the issue before it develops into an addiction. The good news is that self-care treatment at home is possible, although not always recommended.
If Valium is no longer working as effectively as it once did and you find yourself now taking more of your medication than you were initially, it is important to get help as soon as possible. This could entail talking to your doctor about how to safely reduce your dosage over a period of a few weeks or months.
A gradual reduction of Valium will help you to break free from the substance with minimal impact. Your chances of experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms will decrease dramatically if you taper your dose slowly, as this will allow your brain and body to get used to the decrease in chemicals.
If you want to attempt a self-care withdrawal at home, be sure to employ the following measures:
When to Seek Medical Care
It is difficult to accept help for addiction, or to even admit that it exists, but if you believe that your use of Valium is getting out of control, please seek out medical care. Contacting your doctor as soon as you realise that you are in danger of allowing your use of this medication to get out of hand could potentially prevent you from spiralling down the path of addiction.
It is also vital that you seek medical care immediately if you notice the signs of an overdose after taking too much Valium or if you have combined it with another substance. The sooner you seek help, the better your chances of avoiding serious medical complications are.
Valium Addiction and Possible Treatments
You now know that Valium addiction is a serious illness, and one that can have negative consequences on all aspects of your life. As well as the impact on your mental and physical wellbeing, addiction can lead to the destruction of relationships and severe financial implications for you and your family members. This is one of the main reasons that you can access treatment as soon as possible.
Addiction treatment typically involves detox in the first instance, followed by a programme of rehabilitation. Rehab programmes are provided by both private and public organisations in the UK and are either day care or residential based.
The aim of treatment for a Valium addiction is to help you break free from your addiction and then learn how to move forward to a substance-free life. Detox tackles the physical side of the illness while rehab takes care of the emotional and psychological aspect.
When being treated for addiction, you are likely to have both individual and group therapy sessions, where various treatments such as cognitive behavioural therapy, dialectical behaviour therapy, and 12-step therapy are used.
Most rehab providers today use a combination of talking and behaviour modification, with holistic treatments and medication, if appropriate. This combined approach allows for a greater level of care and improves your chances of achieving full and permanent sobriety.
Medication can help you to deal with some of the issues for which you initially took Valium or for problems that developed because of your addiction. It could be the case that antidepressants are prescribed to treat depression that was caused or worsened by your Valium abuse.
Behaviour modification techniques look to help you learn more about the relationship between your thoughts and your actions. Counsellors will try to help you identify negative thoughts and emotions. When you understand why your thoughts and feelings are causing you to act in an addictive manner, you can challenge these thoughts and replace negative behaviours with positive alternatives.
Holistic therapies are also used during addiction treatment and are designed to reduce stress, prevent cravings, and improve overall mental, spiritual, and physical wellbeing. Some examples of holistic treatments are:
- Mindful Fitness
- Music Therapy
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Valium detox is the process that takes place when you quit your medication. It is your body’s attempt to eliminate the chemicals and toxins that have built up, but it usually causes a variety of withdrawal symptoms to occur.
The symptoms you experience, and their severity, will depend on how long you have been addicted to Valium, how much of it you were taking, and how quickly you withdraw from it. As there is a risk of severe withdrawal symptoms, the general recommendation is that you complete the process in a detox clinic under the careful supervision of medical professionals. This is the surest way to stay safe and be comfortable throughout the process.
While withdrawing from Valium at home may take place over the course of many weeks or months, a gradual dose reduction in a detox clinic tends to take place more quickly. This can result in symptoms that are more intense and last longer but with medical staff in attendance, these symptoms can be effectively managed.
What About Withdrawal?
The withdrawal process is a complicated one, particularly in the case of benzodiazepine drugs such as Valium. As your brain and body will have become dependent on your medication to the point where they are unable to physiologically function normally without it, the withdrawal process is not only a challenge but also increases your risk of severe symptoms.
Withdrawing from Valium can be very uncomfortable and could result in the onset of the following symptoms:
- Abdominal cramps
- Muscle pain
- Tingling in the fingers and toes
- A sense of unease or unhappiness.
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Do You Need to Go onto Rehab?
To fully recover from Valium addiction, you will need to complete a detox in the first instance. Nevertheless, to ensure the best chance of full recovery, it is important to also rehabilitation.
Rehab is necessary to deal with the underlying issues that contributed to your addiction developing. Through rehab you can learn how to overcome your addiction and then develop the skills that you need to help you live a substance-free life going forward.
Valium Addiction Statistics
- Between 2010 and 2016, there were 1,595 deaths recorded in England and Wales related to diazepam poisoning.
- While the number of deaths dropped from 258 in 2014 to 252 in 2015, there was an increase of 13% in 2016 on the previous year.
- In the last five years, deaths from heroin and morphine have more often than not involved other drugs such as diazepam.
- The rise in drug-related deaths in Scotland in the past ten years has been partly blamed on fake Valium being imported from China.
- In 2016, 867 people died from drug use in Scotland, which was a 23% rise on the previous year and a rise of more than 100% on the figure for 2006.
- Fake Valium was linked to deaths across Scotland in 2016, with the worst affected areas being Glasgow, Inverclyde, Ayrshire, and Lothian.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Valium addictive?
When taken in therapeutic doses over a short period, Valium is considered a safe drug. Nonetheless, when abused or taken for a longer period, tolerance to its effects can develop and a potential for abuse exists. This can result in physical dependence and addiction.
How is Valium addiction treated?
A comprehensive recovery programme is necessary for the treatment of a Valium addiction. This will begin with detox, where the physical addiction is addressed. During detox, you will quit Valium but will likely experience a range of withdrawal symptoms. When you have fully detoxed, you can begin the rehabilitation process whereby the issues that caused the addiction are tackled. To maintain sobriety, you will need to follow up with a programme of aftercare.
How bad is Valium addiction?
Valium addiction is like any other addiction in that it can destroy lives. If you become preoccupied with Valium and feel as though you are unable to function without it, there is a risk of it having a negative impact on many areas of your life.
Continued abuse of Valium can have harmful consequences for your health and could affect your relationships with family members, friends, and work colleagues. Without treatment, your life could spiral out of control.
Where else can I find help?
While you can contact us here at UKAT for information about our clinics and programmes, you can also access help and support via your doctor. Valium addiction is a treatable condition and programmes are available on the NHS. Your doctor will be able to refer you to your local drug treatment service or you can refer yourself if you would prefer not to visit your GP.
You can also find information about programmes provided by local support groups and charities by using an online information database.
How does Valium addiction start?
Valium addiction usually begins with an increased tolerance to the effects of the drug. When your medication is no longer providing the relief that it once did, it may be tempting to increase the dosage to achieve the desired level of satisfaction.
However, upping the dose is likely to result in physical and psychological dependence. When this happens, the risk for addiction increases. When you begin to crave Valium and take it even though it is causing harm in your life and in the lives of those around you, you are more than likely addicted.
Who gets addicted to Valium?
It would be nice to think that addiction is something that happens only to people who are bad or weak, but that is not the way it works. The truth is that anyone who uses Valium is at risk of developing an addiction. It does not matter how old you are, where you come from, what your gender you are, or the level of education you have; if you use Valium, you could allow your use of it to get out of control.
What should I do about Valium addiction?
If you believe you have an addiction to Valium, the last thing you should do is ignore the problem. Your illness will not go away if you ignore it, no matter how much you want it to. The best thing to do is speak to someone about your concerns. This could be a close family member, friend, or a doctor.
You can also talk to us here at UKAT for advice and information about the options available to you. We can provide a listening ear and offer a full assessment, which will give you a clearer picture of what you are dealing with.
How do I help someone who is addicted to Valium?
If someone you love is using Valium and you believe that he or she has become addicted, it is important that you address the issue as soon as possible. While the person might be reluctant to admit to having a problem, by raising the questions you can plant a seed and you might find that he or she comes around to the idea of getting help.
If you do nothing, the affected individual is likely to continue with his or her addictive behaviour, and the longer this is allowed to happen, the worse the problem will become. Basically, the earlier you intervene, the better the chances are that he or she will make a full recovery.
Is Valium addictive in low doses?
Taking a low dose of Valium may prevent an addiction from occurring but it could also become ineffective after a while, resulting in a need to increase the dose. If you increase your dose of medication, it may offer relief for a little time, but after a while it too will become less effective. If this cycle continues, you will find yourself with an addiction that is difficult to break.
How can I spot Valium dependence?
Valium dependence tends to result in withdrawal symptoms when the effects of the medication wear off. If you are struggling with unpleasant symptoms when you try to quit or cut down on your Valium use, then it is likely that you are already physically dependent. You might feel as though you need Valium to be able to function normally.