Like many addictions, Valium addiction often begins with attempts to medicate specific health conditions. In some cases, people may take larger than prescribed doses or even take Valium more frequently than prescribed, often in an attempt to prevent unpleasant situations. Over time, people begin to develop a tolerance for the medication, meaning more of the medication is required to achieve the same degree of effectiveness.
Unfortunately, Valium isn’t a drug you can simply stop taking on your own. Doing so can put you at risk for developing seizures as part of your withdrawal from the medication. That is why formal addiction treatment and rehabilitation programs are the best choices for safe and lasting recoveries from Valium addiction.
Valium is, perhaps, the most easily recognized drug within the diazepam family of medications and one that is widely used in health care around the world. It is an effective treatment for many conditions. Unfortunately, there are those who use this important medication recreationally as well as those who develop dependencies through prescribed use as well. Millions of people have become dependent on this medication leading to financial problems, damaged relationships, and missing years from the lives of those who struggle with Valium addiction.
What is Valium?
Valium, or diazepam, is a drug within the benzodiazepine family of medications. It is frequently prescribed to treat a variety of psychological and physical conditions, including the following:
- Various seizure disorders.
- Chronic sleep disorders.
- Panic disorders.
- Acute alcohol withdrawal.
- Muscle spasms.
- Irritable bowel syndrome.
- Night terrors.
- Various anxiety disorders.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 23 percent of people who died from opioid overdoses also had benzodiazepines, like Valium, in their systems1. Unfortunately, using both medications together greatly reduces the risks of hospitalizations due to drug-related emergencies. The reason is simple. Both effectively suppress breathing and sedate the people who use them. While both drugs are highly effective tools for treating a variety of health conditions when taken together the risks of overdose or other health emergencies increase exponentially.
Ultimately, Valium is a commonly prescribed drug with a long history of helping people in a variety of situations. For all the good that it does, there are still risks involved in taking this medication in any manner other than that in which it is prescribed. It is especially risky for those who do not need to take the medication.
There are several considerations to keep in mind when taking Valium as well, including certain medical conditions2 that may increase risks associated with Valium, including:
- Sleep apnea
- Myasthenia gravis
- Lung disease
- Drug or alcohol use disorders
- Kidney disease
- Narrow-angle glaucoma
It can also be dangerous to mix Valium with other medications or alcohol. This is especially true of medications, like opioids, that might slow the central nervous system.
What does it Mean to be a Benzodiazepine?
Benzodiazepines are commonly prescribed medications that offer outstanding anti-anxiety properties. That isn’t all they are prescribed for, however. Other conditions they treat effectively include relaxing muscles, treating seizures and convulsions, and managing a variety of disorders including major depressive disorders, panic disorders, and general anxiety disorders.
One of the reasons Valium is so widely prescribed, as a benzodiazepine is that patients can feel its effects so quickly, bringing a swift resolution to whatever symptoms they have prescribed the medication to address.
There is a great risk of overdoes for those who use benzodiazepines in a manner other than how it is prescribed. Symptoms of overdose3 include:
- Extreme fatigue
- Slowed heartbeat and breathing
- Loss of consciousness
If the user has collapsed, suffered a seizure, has difficulty breathing, or you cannot wake him or her, call 911 immediately for assistance.
Valium and Anxiety
The relationship between Valium and anxiety is one that can be traced for decades. In fact, Valium was first introduced in 19634 as a safe and effective anxiety treatment. It remains one of the most commonly prescribed drugs in history. It has been immortalized in song by the Rolling Stones hit, “Mother’s Little Helper.” It was also the first drug to reach one billion dollars in sales5.
Despite the wonders it worked for helping to treat anxiety and panic attacks among patients, it was reported early on that these pills could “turn on” users, resulting in addictions far worse than those to heroin. Public announcements related to Valium contributing to Elvis Presley’s death and Betty Ford’s revelation that she was addicted to Valium and alcohol6 brought to light the addictive nature of the drug in a way that resonated with the general public – at least for a little while.
As anxiety levels have increased with growing pressures in society, business, home life, and more, the reliance on medications, like Valium has risen as well. While there had been a marked decrease in the years leading up to 2020, anti-anxiety medication prescriptions, including those for Valium, increased by 34 percent between February 16, 2020 and March 15, 20207. What’s truly alarming is that these dates precede the first U.S. coronavirus lockdowns.
It creates a perfect storm for increasing dependency on these medications and greatly inflates the risk of Valium addiction among those who are frightened and alone at home during these dark days. Other benzodiazepines and similar prescription drugs include:
Unfortunately, there is a risk with all these medications for addiction, just as there is for Valium addiction. Each one offers different rates and durations in which they become effective. Valium, for instance, is one of the speediest when it comes to its anti-anxiety effects.
Addiction to benzodiazepines, like Valium, occur when people become dependent on the drugs to get through the day. At this point, it isn’t about obtaining the healing effects of the medication. Instead, it’s about avoiding the painful, and potentially life-threatening, withdrawal symptoms associated with Valium addiction. Symptoms of Valium addiction include:
- Shaking (due to withdrawal)
- Slurred speech
- Anxiety (sadness, irritability, etc. that is out of character)
- Dilated pupils
- Lack of coordination (appearance of drunkenness)
- Blurry vision
- Irregular heartbeat
- Memory problems
- Concentration issues (inability to focus)
- Delayed reactions (slowed reflexes)
- Severe cravings for Valium (goes to great lengths to obtain more)
How addictive is Valium?
In March of 2013, the Daily Mail ran an article stating that Valium is more addictive than heroin. And yet, it goes on to say that UK doctors issue nearly 18 million prescriptions for benzodiazepines annually, with many general practitioners having as many as 180 patients who are long-term users among those prescribed8.
Because there are so many potential risks when it comes to Valium withdrawals and symptoms, it is often best to work with treatment centers that offer medication-assisted treatment (MAT) options.
Valium addiction is something millions of people around the world struggle with. Fortunately, it is something you can treat and, with the right resources available to you, overcome so you can have the healthy, happy life you deserve.
Residential Treatments for Valium Addiction
Valium, like most benzodiazepine, addictions require some degree of medically supervised detoxification in order to avoid the life-threatening complications that can occur when quitting medications like these. With a medically supervised detox and withdrawal treatment, like the Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) available at Harmony Place, the process involves a combination of medication and other clinical, evidence-based, and holistic treatment options.
The use of medication for detox is not about replacing one addictive medication with another. It’s about addressing some of the more severe withdrawal symptoms to reduce the risks to the patient.
Among the treatment methods we offer in combination with our MAT program and to promote lifelong recovery from addiction are the following:
- Individual psychotherapy
- Group psychotherapy
- Family therapy
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Dialectical behavioral therapy
- Motivational enhancement therapy
- Healthy living practices
- Holistic and experiential activities
- Psycho-educational groups
- 12-step facilitation
The most important thing to know about Harmony Place is that each patient receives individualized treatment plans based on unique needs, circumstances, and recovery goals. These are all offered through our residential treatment program. We believe that by offering individualized approaches to treatment rather than a one-size-fits-all philosophy, no one falls through the cracks and everyone has access to unique treatment options that resonate with them personally.
We believe that residential treatment programs offer the soundest potential for long-term success when treating Valium addiction. However, we understand that some people do not have the luxury of time away from their lives to engage in this type of treatment. For that reason, we also offer outpatient treatment options for some patients seeking addiction treatment as well as those who have successfully completed the residential part of their journeys.
Outpatient Valium Addiction Treatment
Outpatient treatment is available for Valium addiction in select circumstances. For instance, residential patients who have completed the program often transition to outpatient treatment for further observation and to avoid potential relapses.
In other cases, patients who are in the early stages of Valium dependence and may not yet have the physiological and emotional dependence on the drug of long-term users may also qualify for outpatient treatment that allows them to continue with their “day jobs” or familial responsibilities while going through the treatment and recovery process.
Harmony Place offers varying levels of outpatient Valium addiction rehab for our Los Angeles area patients that include:
- Partial hospitalization program. Offers a bridge between residential treatment and a return to the world. It can be an invaluable lifeline for patients.
- Intensive outpatient program. This allows a little more freedom for patients (and responsibility) while providing them with the tools they need to cope when returning to their daily commitments and obligations.
- Outpatient treatment. This is the final stage of treatment that allows patients to seek treatment as needed without requiring as many treatment classes or therapy sessions.
The goal of all treatment programs for Valium addiction at Harmony Place is to help patients return to their homes and families with the foundations they need to experience lasting recoveries.
Why Harmony Place?
Valium addiction is not easy to live with. The long-term repercussions to your finances, your health, and your happiness can be devastating. Harmony Place understands how impactful this particular addiction can be and seeks to equip patients with all the tools, coping mechanisms, and affirmations they need to avoid returning to their Valium addictions once leaving our facility.
We will work with you to create an individualized plan for detox, withdrawal management, healing, and recovery that focuses on the mind and the body as you navigate this unfamiliar territory.
We understand that seeking help for Valium addiction is an important first step in the right direction. We want you to leave our facility with everything you need to resist urges, overcome cravings, and avoid behaviors that could lead to relapse. Contact Harmony Place today to learn more about our holistic approach to healing and recovering from Valium addiction.
1National Institute on Drug Abuse (2018). https://www.drugabuse.gov/drug-topics/opioids/benzodiazepines-opioids
2Very Well Mind (2020). https://www.verywellmind.com/valium-diazepam-2584324
3Medline Plus (2020). https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682047.html#other-uses
4Britannica (2020). https://www.britannica.com/science/Valium
5The Wall Street Journal (2013). https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702303289904579195872550052950
6The White House (2009). https://www.whitehouse.gov/about-the-white-house/first-ladies/elizabeth-anne-bloomer-ford/
7The Miami Herald (2020). https://www.miamiherald.com/news/coronavirus/article242178031.html