Valium Addiction & Abuse
Valium is a brand name for diazepam — a benzodiazepine that is popularly prescribed to treat a range of conditions from muscle spasms to panic disorder and anxiety. It is also used to treat people suffering from alcohol withdrawal. The drug acts as a depressant and calms the central nervous system.
In decades past, this potent long-acting drug was dubbed “mother’s little helper.” Popularly prescribed to women in the 1960s and 1970s, Valium became a standby for women who were trying to juggle the difficulties of motherhood and marriage, and for others, the struggle of being single in this era. The Madness Network News reports 59.3 million prescriptions being written for Valium in America in 1974 alone.
Today, the rate at which this drug is prescribed is lower, but the rate of addiction continues to persist. According to Forbes Magazine, Valium was prescribed 14 million times in 2009.
Who abuses it?
Prescription drug abuse is an ever-growing problem in the US, and no demographic seems to be exempt from this issue. Anyone who has been prescribed Valium to treat a medical condition is at a heightened risk for dependence if the drug is misused or used for longer than prescribed. In one study of older adults who used benzodiazepines for three months or more, they had a 51 percent increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, per the British Medical Journal.
The aging American population is consistently at risk of growing dependent upon prescription drugs given the rate at which they consume them. Georgetown University reports 75 percent of people aged 51-64 use prescription drugs, versus 91 percent for people aged 80 and above. Valium is prescribed to around 100,000 elderly individuals every year, per Health Day, and many of them end up addicted. Health & Science reports 17 percent of American citizens over the age of 59 abuse prescription drugs or alcohol.
Benzodiazepines like Valium are particularly popular among teenagers, too. A 2014 survey notes 1.7 percent of 8th graders, 3.9 percent of 10th graders, and 4.7 percent of 12th graders reported past-year misuse or abuse of tranquilizers like Valium, per the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Alcohol abusers are more likely to grow dependent on Valium. Likewise, individuals who suffer from certain mental health disorders are more likely to misuse or abuse the drug. In one study, patients with borderline personality disorder who were treated with benzodiazepines like Valium had more difficulty stopping use of the drug, and many more dropped out of treatment in comparison to the group not affected by the disorder, per Informa Healthcare.
- Respiratory depression
- Memory loss
- Poor motor skills
- Inability to focus
- Muscular lethargy
- Decreased reaction time
The risk of adverse effects is significantly heightened when alcohol is used in combination with drugs like Valium. Some people have violent reactions to the drug and may become very irritable and aggressive.
- Tolerance, which can develop in as little as 3-4 weeks
- Using Valium when withdrawal sets in to get it to stop
- Always using more than you intended to
- Using Valium even though it has negative effects on your life
- Using is the main objective all day, every day
- No longer hanging out with friends or associating with family, because using is more important
Detox from valium
In one study published in the Journal of Addictive Behaviors, as many as 44 percent of chronic benzo users became dependent on the drug. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration notes 1 percent of admissions to treatment in 2012 cited tranquilizers as their primary substance of abuse, with 74 percent of these people also abusing other drugs.
Generally, the standard treatment approach for an addiction to Valium is to decrease the dose being abused by one-quarter for every week of withdrawal. Obviously, the detox period must be outlined ahead of time. The physician supervising your treatment plan will offer recommendations regarding the detox timeframe. You may not be keen on the idea of a long period of withdrawal, but doctors are aware of the potential downfall of trying to rush through detox.
When you begin withdrawal, it’s going to feel uncomfortable and perhaps even painful. The brain has to try to regulate diazepam levels when you stop using Valium. It is used to being in a calm state, so the central nervous system may be easily overexcited during withdrawal as it tries to find some sense of balance without the drug. Trying to detox on your own can lead to seizures, panic attacks, and other frightening side effects. In a professional detox setting, medical personnel can manage withdrawal symptoms, ensuring you remain safe and comfortable. Withdrawal from Valium actually sets in within a few hours of last use and usually inflicts addicts with a period of insomnia and nausea that may or may not include vomiting.
Initially, you are going to feel like you have a bad hangover as you start tapering down how much Valium you’re taking. Tremors and a heavy dose of sweating are to be expected, too.
The objective is that only one trip to rehab will be needed, but this isn’t always the case. That being said, Benzo.org notes that while relapse occurred for eight participants in one study, five of them successfully achieved recovery after a second attempt at withdrawal. The most intense symptoms will peak around day three and dissipate by day six. Some addicts have a resurgence of these symptoms in the second week of detox.
From start to finish, the withdrawal period could last as long as 6-8 weeks. Even after this time, you may continue to feel some lingering withdrawal effects for several months if you’ve been abusing Valium for a long time. Amino acids, diet and exercise, massage therapy, and vitamin B6 can all be used to manage the side effects of withdrawal during treatment.
Detox is not treatment in and of itself. It must be followed by comprehensive therapy to deal with the underlying issues that led to substance abuse in the first place. A respected rehabilitation program will engage patients in comprehensive therapeutic approaches, including individual and group therapy, as well as complementary therapies. A thorough aftercare plan should also be in place before patients leave the program.
Therapy, support groups, and healthy habits like a balanced diet and exercise regime can significantly increase your protection against relapse. Being dependent on Valium isn’t how your story has to end. The Recovery Village can help you to write a different ending. Call today.