Valium is a prescription medication commonly used to treat anxiety, panic attacks and seizures. Because stress and anxiety diagnoses became increasingly common in recent years, rates of Valium usage in the United States rose steadily. While this medication helps people find relief from a variety of medical problems, it’s important to realize that it can quickly become addictive if used improperly or over extended periods of time.

If you or someone you love struggles with Valium addiction, The Recovery Village can help. Our programs are tailored to each client’s individual needs, and created to help build the skills needed to maintain recovery for life. If you’d like more information or are ready to get started, reach out to a representative today.  

What Is Valium?

Valium is the brand name for diazepam, a benzodiazepine that is popularly prescribed to treat muscle spasms, panic disorder, anxiety and other medical conditions. In some cases, Valium is used to treat people suffering from alcohol withdrawal. Once ingested, the drug acts as a depressant in the body, calming down the central nervous system (CNS) and relaxing the mind.

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 tool for many women who were trying to juggle the difficulties of motherhood and marriage, and for others, the struggle of being a single parent. The Madness Network News report that 59.3 million prescriptions were written for Valium in the United States in 1974 alone. While the prescription rate for Valium is significantly lower today, the use and abuse of the substance has extended to people of all age groups, genders and socioeconomic statuses.

What Is Valium Addiction?

While the medical benefits of Valium are helpful for many, taking this medication over extended periods of time can lead to addiction and dependence. This is because of the way Valium impacts the body and brain. Valium acts on gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors that inhibit or reduce the activity of the nerve cells or neurons. Once ingested, Valium activates these receptors, inducing feelings of relaxation, sedation and well-being.

These effects make Valium consumption pleasurable in the short-term, but dangerous in the long-term. Over time, consistently consuming Valium can impact the brain’s ability to produce neurotransmitters that naturally bind to GABA receptors. Once a person becomes dependent on Valium, they may experience symptoms of physical and psychological withdrawal after they stop taking the drug. Some of these include worsening of original anxiety symptoms, insomnia, nausea and irritability. In severe cases, withdrawal symptoms may include elevated blood pressure, muscle tension, hallucinations and grand mal seizures.

Commonly Used Drug Combinations

In some cases, Valium is abused in combination with other substances. This phenomenon is referred to as polydrug use. Most commonly, Valium is taken with other CNS depressants, including alcohol and opioids. When consumed with these substances, the depressant, sedative effects of both drugs increase exponentially, dramatically raising the risk of overdose. Because of this, it’s crucial that people take Valium only as directed, and do not mix it with any additional substances.

Dangers of Valium Addiction

While any addiction is dangerous, a Valium addiction carries particularly severe risks. Even those consuming this medication for legitimate purposes can become dependent on it if Valium is taken over an extended period of time, or in amounts larger than medically recommended. This is because the body builds up a tolerance to Valium over time, meaning that larger amounts of the substance are required for people to feel the same effect. As more Valium is taken, the risk of physical dependence and overdose increases dramatically.

Signs of Valium overdose may include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Double vision
  • Bluish lips
  • Uncoordinated movement
  • Difficulty breathing

Related Topic: Valium overdose treatment

If you or someone you know experiences symptoms of Valium overdose, call 911 immediately.

Signs and Effects of Valium Addiction and Abuse

Learning some of the most common signs and effects of Valium addiction could make a world of difference for you or someone you love. Whether you personally struggle with Valium addiction or know someone who does, recognizing it early on dramatically improves the chances for successful treatment and recovery.

While some Valium addiction symptoms may be easy to spot, others may manifest in more subtle ways. Some of the most common signs of Valium addiction include:

  • Going to great lengths to obtain Valium
  • Isolation from family and friends
  • Intense cravings for Valium
  • Continued use of Valium despite personal and professional problems
  • Neglect of personal and professional obligations
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities

Over time, Valium addiction can take an enormous toll on psychological and physical health. Some of the most damaging effects of Valium use disorder include:

  • Loss of bladder control
  • Depression
  • Seizures
  • Suicidal thoughts

Statistics for Valium Abuse

Prescription drug abuse is an ever-growing problem in the United States, and statistics show that no demographic is exempt from this issue, including the elderly. Georgetown University reports 75 percent of people aged 51-64 use prescription drugs, compared to 91 percent for people aged 80 and above. Valium is prescribed to around 100,000 elderly individuals every year, according to Health Day, and many of them end up developing Valium addiction. In many cases, this substance use is detrimental to their health. One study conducted by the British Medical Journal of older adults who used benzodiazepines for three months or more showed that they had a 51 percent increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Benzodiazepines like Valium are also popular among teenagers. A 2014 survey conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that 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 substances like Valium. A 2011 survey from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) found that more than 20 million people over the age of 12 in the United States abused a benzodiazepine like Valium at least once in their lifetime.

People who misuse alcohol are more likely to grow dependent on Valium and develop Valium addiction. 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.

Treatment and Help for Valium Addiction

You may believe that your Valium addiction is impossible to overcome, but that belief is malarkey. With the right resources, recovery is possible. The Recovery Village offers a full continuum of care for Valium addiction in centers across the country. Every treatment plan is unique, and helps clients navigate through comprehensive levels of care, so they can gradually learn the skills needed to maintain lifelong recovery.

The Recovery Village offers the following levels of care:

With locations in Florida, Colorado, Ohio, Washington and more, The Recovery Village helps clients from all corners of the United States find Valium treatment that works for them. If you’d like more information about our programs or are ready to take the first step toward recovery, reach out to a representative today.  

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.