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Valium Addiction: Abuse, Side Effects, And Treatment

Valium is a benzodiazepine that is prescribed to treat anxiety, muscle spasms, and the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. If a person takes Valium other than how it’s directed, they are at risk for serious side effects, including addiction and overdose.

Valium (diazepam) is the second-most commonly prescribed benzodiazepine. Valium works to calm overactivity in the brain.

More than 30 million people in the U.S. have benzodiazepine prescriptions. Like other benzodiazepines, Valium can be abused.

This drug works as a sedative tranquilizer and can have psychoactive effects. To enhance these effects, people may take more of the drug than prescribed. Others may change the method of use by crushing and snorting the tablets.

Even when taken as directed, Valium can be habit-forming. If a person abuses the drug, they are at an increased risk of addiction and other side effects, including overdose.

If you or someone close to you is struggling with Valium addiction, recovery is possible. Rehab centers like Swift River can help people overcome Valium dependence and addiction.

Why Do People Abuse Valium?

Valium abuse occurs when people take higher or more frequent doses than directed. Taking another person’s prescription is also considered Valium abuse.

People may abuse Valium for several reasons. Some people abuse the drug to enhance their effects. This includes taking Valium to get “high,” as the drug can cause pleasant effects such as relaxation, euphoria, and a sense of well-being.

A study by the National Institute of Drug Abuse found that the most common reasons to abuse benzodiazepines like Valium included:

  • Relaxation: 46 percent of participants misused benzodiazepines for relaxation and tension relief.
  • Sleep aid: 22 percent abused the drug to help them fall and stay asleep.
  • Dependence: 12 percent used the drug for recreational purposes or because they were dependent on it.
  • Curiosity: 8 percent abused benzodiazepine for experimental purposes.

This same study found that nearly 80 percent of people who abuse benzodiazepines took another person’s prescription. That means only 20 percent were getting the medication from their doctor.

People may also abuse Valium because they have tolerance. Drug tolerance happens when a person takes a medication for a length of time and the body becomes used to the drug’s effects.

People who have a Valium tolerance may increase their dose in order to boost the drug’s effectiveness.

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What Are The Side Effects Of Valium Addiction?

Most people who take the drug long-term will become dependent. However, not everyone who is dependent will develop an addiction. If a person abuses Valium, they are much more likely to become addicted.

Dependence means the body needs the drug in order to function normally. Addiction is a chronic, relapsing disorder that causes people to use compulsively. When a person is addicted to a drug like Valium, they are often unable to cut back or stop using it on their own.

Addiction also causes changes in the brain. As a result, people who are stuck in the cycle of addiction may have strong cravings and withdrawal symptoms. They may also engage in drug-seeking behavior, like doctor shopping (visiting multiple doctors to get more prescriptions).

Valium addiction can lead to additional side effects, including:

  • fatigue
  • dizziness
  • confusion
  • dry mouth
  • headache
  • depression
  • upset stomach
  • muscle weakness
  • changes in sex drive
  • difficulty urinating
  • frequent urination
  • overdose

In recent years, benzodiazepines like Valium have been increasingly linked to a fatal overdose. This happens especially when Valium is taken with opioids.

Both benzodiazepines and opioids slow the central nervous system and can cause a person to stop breathing. Slowed or stopped breathing is the number one cause of fatal overdose.

People who take Valium with alcohol or street drugs are at a heightened risk for life-threatening side effects, including respiratory arrest (stopped breathing).

Valium Withdrawal Symptoms

Doctors often prescribe Valium because it has more mild withdrawal symptoms compared to other benzodiazepines. People who suffer from Valium addiction are still at risk for the uncomfortable physical and psychological symptoms of withdrawal.

People who are physically dependent on Valium may experience symptoms that include:

  • shakiness
  • muscle pain
  • vomiting
  • irritability
  • anxiety
  • confusion
  • restlessness
  • agitation
  • change in appetite
  • insomnia

The duration and severity of Valium withdrawal symptoms will depend on the amount and frequency of a person’s usage. However, even in more severe cases, most withdrawal symptoms resolve within three to four weeks.

Medical Detox For Valium Addiction

Sedatives like benzodiazepines can have a major impact on a person’s brain and body. Many people may want to stop using Valium but are unsure of how to safely get off the drug.

Fortunately, inpatient rehab centers like Swift River offer on-site medical detox to help people overcome Valium addiction.

In a physician-led detox program, treatment staff provides medical and emotional support to patients withdrawing from benzodiazepines.

Many times, people think they can detox on their own. Unfortunately, stopping suddenly (sometimes called quitting “cold turkey”) can cause worsened withdrawal symptoms and lead to relapse.

This is why many detox programs include tapering schedules, which provide patients with gradually decreased doses to stave off withdrawal.

The withdrawal process can also be eased by medication-assisted treatment (MAT). Medical detox at Swift River provides MAT therapy in order to soothe withdrawal symptoms and relieve cravings.

After a client has successfully detoxed, they engage in a personalized treatment plan. Taking an individual approach allows clients to address any underlying issues that may contribute to their addiction.

Getting Help For Valium Addiction

Swift River is located in the beautiful Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts and offers a serene and supportive treatment environment.

Our comprehensive approach to treatment includes cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), and motivational interviewing.

At Swift River, we also provide group therapy, family counseling, and 12-step support to help patients form a recovery support network. This holistic approach allows for the healing of the body, mind, and spirit.

Help is available for Valium addiction. For more information on Valium abuse, side effects, and treatment, reach out to a Swift River treatment specialist today.

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