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Even when taken as prescribed, an addiction to Valium can develop quickly. In fact, many people do not realize they have or are developing a dependence on Valium until it is too late. If you are concerned about your or a loved one’s dependence on Valium, it is essential to seek comprehensive detox and addiction treatment help immediately.

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Valium Abuse in the United States

An Introduction to Valium

Valium is a drug used to treat various conditions that require calming and relaxation. Classified as a benzodiazepine, the effects of valium are long-lasting compared to other drugs in its class. When used in ways other than prescribed by your doctor, valium can quickly become addictive. Generally, prescriptions of valium are short-term to reduce the potential for addiction that can arise when valium is taken for longer than four to six weeks. As with other benzodiazepines, the ongoing use of valium will alter how the user’s brain functions. Without valium, they will feel unable to accomplish certain tasks or “feel” sensations of happiness and relaxation. 


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Understanding the Drug

What Is Valium?

Valium is a drug most commonly prescribed to relieve symptoms associated with anxiety, seizures, and muscle spasms. It is also sometimes used to treat more severe symptoms associated with alcohol detox and withdrawal. Valium works within the brain to diminish overactive brain function while relieving stress and anxiety. It is considered a long-acting benzodiazepine because it stays in the body much longer than other drugs within the class. Compared to other commonly prescribed benzodiazepines such as Ativan (with effects lasting between ten and twenty hours), Valium acts upon the user’s body for twenty to one hundred hours. Because of its “long-lasting” nature, valium requires fewer doses per day than other benzodiazepines. Depending on the dose and the reason for the prescription, Valium is typically taken between one and four times a day. It is meant to be taken regularly to be most effective; however, when someone starts taking more value than prescribed (or takes it without a prescription), the likelihood of addiction increases dramatically. 

How Addictive Is Valium?

Valium is addictive for many of the same reasons as other intoxicating substances that act upon the brain’s reward centers. Valium, like other benzodiazepines, stimulates the reward system resulting in the release of dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. These neurotransmitters increase positive mood and increase energy. Over time, users need more and more valium to achieve desired results. A physical dependence on Valium develops quickly. A person taking Valium for anxiety or sleeping difficulties may begin to feel as though they cannot function normally or avoid a panic attack unless they take Valium-even if they do not need it. Once a tolerance or dependence on valium develops, it can be very difficult to attain sobriety without addiction treatment and support. 

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Signs & Symptoms of a Valium Addiction

When someone begins using Valium, they often use it as prescribed by their medical provider. In time they often become more dependent on Valium to function, therefore, progressively increasing their doses to feel similar effects to those felt early on. This increased tolerance and dependence makes it difficult to hide their use, and visible signs of abuse will become visible to friends and loved ones. The visible and behavioral effects of Valium abuse are similar to that of alcohol intoxication. Some of the most common signs that a friend or loved one may be misusing or addicted to valium include:

  • Slurred speech or speech you cannot understand
  • Lack of coordination and stumbling
  • Dilated pupils
  • Appetite and weight changes
  • Mood changes including irritability, anger or unexplained sadness and depression
  • Shaking and trembling

In more severe cases, symptoms may include more life-threatening conditions such as a coma, respiratory distress, and death (especially when the benzodiazepine is mixed with alcohol or another drug). Long-term Valium abuse can also result in long-term physical and mental health impacts such as difficulties sleeping, tremors, headaches, difficulties concentrating, memory problems, and anorexia. If a friend or loved one is abusing Valium, you may also notice behavioral changes similar to those seen with benzodiazepine and alcohol abuse. Some of the most common include withdrawing from family and friends, borrowing or stealing money, drug-seeking, reduction in efforts to maintain hygiene, new or abnormal mood swings, and new or increased legal and financial difficulties. 

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Valium Withdrawal & The Need for Detox

When used as prescribed, Valium itself typically does not result in life threatening effects. However, withdrawal and detox can be dangerous. Due to the intensity and severity of withdrawal symptoms, it is highly recommended those looking to detox from Valium do so in an environment where medically supervised detox is available. Like other benzodiazepine drugs, symptoms from Valium withdrawal will begin within 24 hours after your last dose. Depending on your addiction’s duration and severity, symptoms can last from a few days to several weeks. Valium withdrawal includes various symptoms such as sleeping difficulties, muscle spasms, stomach problems, cognitive problems, hallucinations, and others. For some who struggle with a severe addiction, suicidal thoughts and actions may accompany the detox and withdrawal process. Due to the potential severity of Valium withdrawal, detox in a medically supervised setting is the best way to reduce the chance of relapse during detox. In a medically supervised environment, addiction treatment professionals and medical providers can monitor your vitals continuously in some cases, providing medications to help reduce the intensity and severity of withdrawal symptoms. Ongoing medical supervision increases your safety should life-threatening withdrawal symptoms occur. Detoxing in a controlled setting is also beneficial because once detox is complete, you can transition directly to a therapeutic program designed to help you achieve and maintain recovery from Valium addiction.  

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How to Find a Valium Treatment Program Near You

Even when taken as prescribed, an addiction to Valium can develop quickly. In fact, many people do not realize they have or are developing a dependence on Valium until it is too late. If you are concerned about your or a loved one’s dependence on Valium, it is essential to seek comprehensive detox and addiction treatment help immediately. Research shows that early, comprehensive treatment is the best method for defeating an addiction to Valium (or other drugs). At My Recovery Source, our experienced staff can help you find a Valium treatment program near you to safely and successfully begin your sobriety journey. If you have tried to detox on your own and experienced relapse, it is natural to believe recovery is impossible. With the right treatment plan and comprehensive support, you can recover from Valium addiction. Reach out to My Recovery Source today to find a Valium treatment program near you. 

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