Valium is one of the most well-known drugs of its type. It is used by millions of people so it is no surprise that valium addiction is so common. Valium is one of the benzodiazepines, as is diazepam and librium. For people who have anxiety disorders, the formulation of valium was an apparently wonderful development. The drug is classified as a hypnotic, anticonvulsant, and muscle relaxant. Valium was first introduced onto the market in 1963, a derivative of librium, and is used today as a treatment for anxiety. Valium has been the most popular tranquilizer for the past 40 years. “Mother’s Little Helper” was a miracle drug. The problem, as with all tranquilizers and “feel good medications” is that they are extremely addictive.
Why is Valium Addiction so easy?
Valium addiction is both physical and psychological. It works with the GABA receptors in the brain to help calm and sedate the user. Because it is available in pill form, valium addiction is very easy to develop. If the addict feels a little more stressed at one moment or another, it is very easy to simply take another pill out of their pocket and pop it for relief. Valium is available in doses between 5 and 15 mg per day, but valium addicts rarely if ever take the medication in its prescribed amount. Valium addiction is interesting in that the addict becomes addicted to the pills themselves. Say the addict is 5 or 10 minutes late for a dose, they will begin to feel anxious because they missed that dose, and for no other reason at all.
While valium is the least addictive of all benzodiazepines, because it has quite a long half-life (the amount of time it takes for half of the medication to leave the addict’s system), it is categorized by the FDA as a schedule IV drug and therefore monitored under the Federal Controlled Substances Act. This means that valium is only available with a doctor’s prescription.
Valium addiction and usage comes with a variety of side effects. These side effects may include; impaired judgment, vertigo, scattered thinking, sleepiness, and difficulty walking or balancing. Valium addicts can suffer from labored breathing and difficulty talking. Most people who suffer from valium addiction also drink alcohol while taking the drug. The two main things that may occur if these drugs are combined are complete memory loss or “blackout” and, because valium hits the brain like roughly two shots of liquor; the addict may wind up severely impaired.
The Effects of Valium Addiction
Tolerance to valium builds very quickly, especially when taken everyday. The first few days that the valium is taken, the hypnotic and sedative effects of the medication are very strong, meaning that it makes the patient feel very sleepy and groggy. These feelings go away within a couple of days when the “feel good” effects kick in. Extended use almost always leads to some sort of addiction. More than half of all patients to whom valium is prescribed become physically and psychologically dependent on the drug and hence develop valium addiction.
The effects of valium can be felt within 30 minutes, a relatively quick response time, which is another reason why valium addiction is so common.
However, because the half-life of valium (Diazepam) is so long, up to 200 hours, it takes effect much more slowly than benzodiazepines with significantly shorter half-lives, i.e.10-20 hours as with ativan. The longer half-life means that valium is expelled more slowly; it lasts longer in the system, and is therefore the preference of addicts.
Long-Term Negative Effects of Valium Addiction
Due to the impairment of mental functioning, it is obvious that those who have developed valium addiction should not operate machinery, any machinery at all. Valium, when mixed with adjunct anti-convulsion medications can cause a condition called “tonic-clonic”, in which seizures that affect the whole of the brain develop. Those who have succumbed to valium addiction and have been addicted for quite sometime, are recommended by their family physicians to undergo frequent liver function tests, because valium is processed through the liver. There are valium addicts who, instead of being helped by the medication, have an opposite reaction. Their anxiety increases, and their risk-factor for developing seizures increases dramatically as well.
Valium Addiction Withdrawal Symptoms
When an individual decides that the time has come for them to cease their use of valium, and to suffer the withdrawal symptoms, which last for roughly a week, the following is what they can expect to experience. First, valium addiction is very dangerous, and the taking of the valium should never be stopped abruptly, especially following long-term use. The withdrawal symptoms are similar to those associated with the cessation of excessive drinking.
The addict will experience insomnia, hypertension, and tremors. They may experience tachycardia, psychosis, or convulsions. Infrequently the addict in withdrawal will experience vomiting, cramping, and or hyper-anxiety, especially when the drug is abruptly stopped.
The severest symptoms of course are found more often in addicts who have been taking high dosages for great lengths of time. The individual suffering from valium addiction must slowly lower the dosage that they take. The more slowly the dosage is lowered, the less the addict will feel any withdrawal symptoms at all. All tapering off of the drug should be done under the trained supervision of at least a family physician, and preferably under the care of a qualified psychiatrist.
Valium addiction is one of the most difficult to quit, and can vary dramatically from individual to individual. For some, there may be nearly no withdrawal symptoms to speak of. For others, it may be exceedingly difficult to stop; to suddenly stop usage after someone has suffered from valium addiction for years can cause heavy-duty seizures and even death. Even with a slow decreasing of the dosage, addicts can and do experience muscle cramping, sweating, sudden chills, loss of appetite, insomnia, weight loss, muscle spasms, seizures and occasionally blurred vision.
Valium Addiction Treatment
Detox centers are available, as are rehab programs and therapy sessions. Following detox and withdrawal, a rehab program that addresses the underlying causes of the valium prescription being issued in the first place, a continued plan of support from family and loved ones as well as a counselor or therapist will help to ensure that an individual, whose life has been consumed by valium addiction, has a fair shot at long term sustained recovery.