Valium is an addictive drug that not only poses a serious risk to physical health, but also puts your cognitive health at risk and poses the very real danger of addiction. Addiction can rob you of all that you care about in life and without treatment can go on for years, preventing you from success, destroying your health and affecting the lives of everyone around you.
What Is Valium?
Valium is the brand name for diazepam. Diazepam belongs to the family of drugs known as benzodiazepines, or, “benzos.” Benzos are central nervous system depressants, which essentially means they slow down and relax the nervous system. The effects of benzos include relaxation of the respiratory and cardiovascular system, as well as neurological function and physical movement.
Other drugs in this category include Xanax (Alprazolam) and Ativan (Lorazepam). Another category that drugs like Valium, Ativan and Xanax fall into is anxiolytic. This means that it assists in relieving anxiety. Valium slows down brain activity, which makes it an effective drug for someone who is experiencing anxiety or a panic attack.
Valium is typically prescribed for the purpose of short-term, as-needed anxiety relief, often before medical procedures. It may also be prescribed for insomnia and for some physical conditions. Benzodiazepines are not only psychologically addictive; they also cause physical dependence. These drugs are meant to be taken sparingly, and for short durations of time.
What Are the Effects of Valium?
When a person takes Valium, they may experience any or all of the following:
- A drowsy, relaxed feeling.
- Slurred speech.
- Impaired physical coordination.
- Lowered blood pressure.
- Slowed breathing.
Each person will respond to the drug differently. You may have a stronger reaction to Valium as compared to someone else, depending on factors such as weight, dosage, tolerance and individual physiological factors.
If you take too much Valium, or if you mix Valium with alcohol or other drugs, you run the risk of an overdose. The combination of alcohol and Valium is extremely dangerous, and most cases of overdose can be attributed to this.
What Are Symptoms of Valium Abuse?
Valium abuse can be considered any instance of taking the drug in a way in which it was not prescribed. This can include taking it when it is not yours, taking more than the prescribed amount, taking it more often than prescribed or taking it beyond its intended use.
It is important to note that even when Valium is taken as prescribed there is still a risk for tolerance to develop, and harmful side effects can still occur. Prolonged or excessive use of Valium causes a wide variety of problems.
Valium causes drowsiness and a lack of coordination. This, combined with slowed motor skills means that operating a vehicle or any type of equipment is not okay. Car accidents and other types of accidents can occur. For people who take Valium regularly, or abuse Valium, there is a persistent danger of becoming lax about this and causing serious injury or death to themselves or others.
Here are some physical and mental symptoms of Valium abuse:
- Urine retention. This means an inability to urinate, caused by relaxation of the muscles involved with urinating. This can cause infection and injury.
- Impaired memory, confusion, difficulty thinking clearly.
- Anxiety. Ironically, the drug that may be prescribed to treat anxiety can actually cause more of it when abused.
- Hostility, irritability, aggression.
- Hallucinations, paranoia.
- Loss of interest in sex.
- Lack of self-care, hygiene.
- Inability to function well at work, school or to care for family responsibilities.
These symptoms are not a comprehensive list, but are typical effects that can be experienced by someone who has been abusing the drug, or using it for a prolonged period of time.
What Are the Dangers of Valium Abuse?
It has become increasingly clear that there is an epidemic of benzodiazepine abuse in the United States as well as other countries. They are prescribed frequently and often without a clinical diagnosis. Even more alarmingly, physicians will continue to fill prescriptions indefinitely, without reevaluating the patient to see if continued use is appropriate.
Valium Causes Physical Dependence
Like other benzos, you can become physically dependent on Valium. This means that if you stop taking the drug abruptly, you will experience withdrawal symptoms as your body detoxes from the drug. Dependence can occur surprisingly quickly, and you may not realize that you have crossed that threshold.
One tip-off that you are physically dependent, or are in danger of becoming dependent is tolerance. Tolerance naturally occurs after a person has been using a drug for some time. Each person is different in how long it will take them to develop tolerance. You know that tolerance is occurring when you find that the drug “isn’t working” the way it used to. It seems to have become less effective, or wears off quicker than it should. This means that your body has grown accustomed to the drug.
This is dangerous, because you may be tempted to take your next dose sooner, or to double up on your dose. This is what moves normal use into Valium abuse.
Physical dependence on Valium is dangerous. If you stop suddenly, you can experience grave health issues, and in extreme cases, coma and death.
How Do You Know If You Need Treatment for Valium?
If you have become dependent or addicted to Valium, treatment is your best course of action. Addiction will take over your life. If you have found that you can’t quit taking Valium, even though you want to, then getting help is the next step.
If you aren’t sure whether you need help, ask yourself these questions:
- Do you avoid friends or family now that you are using Valium?
- Have you lost interest in activities that you used to enjoy?
- Are you running out of your prescription of Valium, and having to buy them from other sources, or take them from other people?
- Do you feel anxious, depressed or angry when you run out of the drug?
- Have family or friends expressed concern to you?
- Are you finding it necessary to lie about, minimize or cover up your Valium use?
If you have answered yes to any of those questions, then drug and alcohol treatment is right for you.