December 18, 2023

Valium Addiction: Signs, Symptoms, & Treatment

image of man representing valium addiction

Valium (diazepam) belongs to the benzodiazepine class of drugs and acts as a depressant of the CNS (central nervous system). The medication is frequently prescribed for managing conditions like anxiety disorders and acute alcohol withdrawal, but is Valium dangerous? Read on to discover more about the abuse and addiction potential of benzos like Valium, as well as the effects of Valium addiction and Valium side effects long-term.

Is Valium Addictive?

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Valium is a benzodiazepine classified by the DEA (United States Drug Enforcement Administration) as a Schedule IV controlled substance for its medical utility combined with its potential for abuse and addition.

Using Valium for a duration exceeding six weeks, even when prescribed by a doctor, increases the risk of dependence and addiction. The sustained use of Valium causes tolerance to form, meaning that more of the benzo is required to deliver the initial effects. Increasing consumption accelerates the development of dependence, a state in which a person requires Valium to function and experiences withdrawal symptoms in its absence.

Signs of Valium Addiction

Valium addiction is clinically identified in DSM-5-TR (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) as a sedative use disorder. While only a qualified healthcare professional can officially diagnose this condition, understanding the diagnostic criteria can be beneficial in recognizing whether or not someone you know is a Valium addict and establishing when it’s appropriate to seek assistance. These are the Valium addiction symptoms:

  1. Using sedatives like Valium in increasing amounts or for longer than originally intended.
  2. Making persistent efforts to reduce or discontinue sedative use.
  3. Devoting a significant amount of time to obtaining, using, or recovering from the effects of sedatives.
  4. Experiencing cravings for sedatives like Valium.
  5. Failing to meet major obligations at work, home, or school due to sedative use.
  6. Ongoing use of Valium despite social and interpersonal problems triggered or inflamed by its effects.
  7. Sacrificing important activities because of sedative use.
  8. Recurrent use of sedatives in dangerous situations, such as while driving or operating machinery.
  9. Persistently using sedatives like Valium despite awareness of a psychological or physical health condition likely caused or worsened by substance use.
  10. Developing tolerance, requiring more of the substance to experience previous effects – not applicable if the sedative is used as prescribed.
  11. Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when discontinuing Valium use – not applicable if the sedative is used as prescribed.

Overdose Valium Symptoms

Valium overdose can be life-threatening and requires immediate medical intervention. Call emergency services if you notice the following signs of Valium overdose in a loved one:

  • Extreme drowsiness: Overdosing on Valium can intensify its sedative effects, leading to excessive drowsiness or difficulty staying awake.
  • Confusion and cognitive impairment: Individuals experiencing a Valium overdose may display confusion, memory loss, and impaired cognitive function.
  • Slurred speech: Overdose can cause a noticeable decline in motor skills, manifesting in slurred or slow speech.
  • Weakness and fatigue: Excessive ingestion of Valium may lead to pronounced weakness, fatigue, and difficulty in performing basic physical activities.
  • Breathing difficulties: Overdose can depress the respiratory system, causing slow or labored breathing, and in severe cases, respiratory failure.
  • Unsteady movements and lack of coordination: Impaired motor coordination may result in unsteady movements, stumbling, or loss of balance.
  • Bluish skin or lips: If you notice someone has skin or lips that appear blue, this may indicate inadequate oxygenation and requires immediate medical attention.
  • Coma: An overdose can progress to a state of unconsciousness, leading to a potentially fatal coma.
image of woman representing valium addiction symptoms

Valium Addiction Treatment

Valium addiction treatment usually begins with a supervised medical detox. Once someone becomes physically dependent on Valium, withdrawal symptoms may present within a few hours of the last dose. Abrupt discontinuation is strongly discouraged as it can prompt dangerous withdrawal symptoms. Opting for a medically supervised detoxification process ensures safety and comfort, allowing healthcare professionals to effectively manage acute withdrawal symptoms and address any complications that may arise.

Detoxification is just the first phase of addiction treatment and, on its own, contributes minimally to addiction recovery. However, when integrated with ongoing therapeutic care, it is possible for people to set a firm foundation for sustained recovery during detox.

Ongoing treatment for Valium addiction can be delivered in an inpatient or outpatient setting, depending on personal circumstances and the severity of the addiction.

Engaging with CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) allows for the identification of potential triggers for drug use, recognition of life stressors, and the development of effective coping skills. This therapeutic approach employs modeling and rehearsal techniques to bring about positive behavioral changes. Beyond this, CBT emphasizes relapse prevention by helping people to recognize and steer clear of triggers that may lead to a resumption of substance use.

Motivational interviewing is a technique that can enhance motivation for constructive changes, including the reduction or cessation of substance use, and promoting commitment to ongoing treatment.

Treatment programs for Valium addiction may also include holistic therapies like mindfulness, meditation, and yoga to supplement evidence-based interventions, as well as aftercare to minimize the likelihood of relapse.

FAQs

Is Valium habit forming?

Valium, like all benzos, has the potential to be habit-forming if not used as prescribed or if used for extended periods. Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions to minimize the risk of dependence.

Can you get addicted to Valium?

Yes, people can develop physical and psychological dependence on Valium with prolonged use or misuse. Abrupt discontinuation can trigger the presentation of withdrawal symptoms. Symptoms can be streamlined with a gradual tapering under medical supervision.

How addictive is Valium?

Valium’s addictive potential varies from person to person, influenced by factors such as dose, duration of use, and personal variability. While the medication can effectively treat anxiety and other conditions, cautious and monitored use is essential to mitigate the risk of addiction.

An image of a woman using addiction hotline's to find valium addiction treatment

Call Addiction Hotline for Help with Valium Addiction

If you or someone that you care about is addicted to prescription medications like Valium, calling a substance abuse helpline is a worthwhile initial step. Dial 855-701-0479 any time of day or night and speak with an experienced professional about any aspect of addiction and recovery.

At Addiction Hotline, we can provide you with referrals to treatment providers and addiction specialists throughout the state of California. We can also connect you with detox facilities to help you begin your recovery the right way with a supervised detox from Valium.

Call 855-701-0479 for immediate assistance with Valium addiction in California.

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