Valium use has long been synonymous with feeling “comfortably numb.” Back in the 1960s and 1970s, the drug had even gone by the moniker “Mother’s Little Helpers,” referring to its alleged ability to ease the pressures of pregnancy, motherhood, singlehood, and other “womanly problems.”
These pills were seen as a coping method for housewives to handle the mundane tasks of their everyday lives when women re-entered domestic life as men returned from World War II.
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According to the earliest studies conducted in the 1960s, women were prescribed Valium twice as much as men.
Recent years; however, have seen a bridge between those numbers as rates of prescription drug use and abuse escalate. Here’s what we can learn about Valium, its effects, and potential treatment methods for valium addiction.
What Is Valium?
Valium is the brand name for diazepam, a prescription benzodiazepine medication that produces a calming effect. The depressant drug, which also is considered a tranquilizer, is commonly used to treat anxiety, muscle spasms, seizures, sleep disorder, and restless legs syndrome among other conditions.
The medication is also used to treat alcohol and benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms. Valium also has been used as a premedication for inducing sedation or amnesia before some medical procedures.
Diazepam reportedly has been one of the most prescribed medications in the past 40 years. Reports have shown that diazepam’s success caused the “benzo boom,” which has increased the production and synthesis of Ativan, Klonopin, and Xanax. There are reports of more potent synthetic forms of benzodiazepines that can be bought online.
Such drugs mean an increased risk of overdose for people who use them.
It can only be legally administered by prescription. The past decade has seen a devastating increase in prescription drug abuse, which has led some states to take action. For instance, in Tennessee:
- Doctors are required to check patients’ drug histories in a statewide database before prescribing drugs like diazepam.
- Doctors are not allowed to dispense more than a 30-day supply at once.
Street names for Valium include V’s, Yellow V’s, Blue V’s, Benzos, Moggies, Vallies, Eggs, and Tranks.
What Are the Signs of Valium Addiction?
The psychological effects of Valium abuse may be more difficult to detect, but some of the more common physical signs of valium addiction include:
- High tolerance, dependence on Valium
- Strong cravings for Valium (diazepam)
- Thinking about Valium all or most of the time
- Increasing doses of Valium to get the same effects
- Seeking out increased, steady amounts of Valium by “doctor shopping”
- Noticeable changes in appearance or hygiene
- Change in eating habits
- Loss of coordination, slow movements and speech
- Frequent sleepiness
- Lowered inhibitions
- Loss of interest in daily activities, hobbies, interests
- Isolation from family, friends, colleagues
Also, a person’s reaction time while taking Valium becomes slower. As such, their ability to drive begins to suffer, and they may often weave through lanes. Additionally, people using Valium may appear to be sedated or look confused or like they’re in a stupor.
Oftentimes, people with an addiction to Valium need progressively larger doses to feel the euphoric effects. As a result, consistently taking larger doses can, unfortunately, lead to an overdose. Common signs of an overdose are:
- Bluish lips
- Double vision
- Extreme drowsiness
- General weakness
- Uncoordinated movements
In the event of any of these signs occur, individuals should immediately seek medical help before they escalate drastically to seizures, cardiac arrests, respiratory failure, coma, or even death.
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What Is Involved in Valium Addiction Treatment?
Chronic Valium users likely will experience physical, emotional, and psychological changes if they stop using the drug entirely or reduce usage to some degree. While stopping Valium use is always recommended, abruptly stopping Valium after long-term use is strongly not advised. Suddenly stopping use can result in dangerous withdrawal symptoms that could be fatal. Rather than suffer symptoms like increased anxiety, convulsions and insomnia alone, addicted Valium users are urged to seek help from addiction specialists at a professional drug treatment facility.
During Valium addiction treatment, recovering users will need to undergo detoxification (detox for short). A medical detox is needed to process and remove the diazepam from the user’s system and keep the person safe from life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. Simultaneously, medical care and addiction specialists will assess vitals and manage any onset of health complications. Medications to help manage withdrawal symptoms may be administered during this time.
Furthermore, medical treatment for Valium can include:
- Gradually reducing the dose
- Switching to another benzo
- Switching to a barbiturates
Clients have several options available for treatment depending on how severe their addiction is. Inpatient treatment (also known as residential treatment), outpatient treatment, and partial hospitalization treatment are just some of the programs recovering Valium users can enter.
Inpatient treatment, which requires at least a 30-day stay or longer, provides a safe, 24-hour-monitored environment where clients can focus on getting well and addressing the compulsive behaviors that led them to addiction. Clients who live on-site at a treatment facility must adhere to structure and a strict schedule.
Outpatient treatment is lower in intensity and offers more flexibility so clients living off-site and can follow their own schedule to take care of personal obligations. However, despite this, they still are required to attend therapy sessions and activities for a set number of hours during the day or in the evening. People who enroll in an outpatient recovery program usually have no serious health issues, are motivated to stick with the program to achieve their recovery goals, and are responsible for keeping their surroundings free of triggers that can lead back to using and abusing drugs.
Partial hospitalization programs (PHPs) are a bridge between residential and outpatient programs and are ideal for people who need to a place to land after inpatient treatment and more time before they rejoin society and take on social responsibilities full time.
How Dangerous Is Valium?
Valium was initially developed to create sedative agents that were both safer and more effective than the other drugs typically used at the time (barbiturates and meprobamate). Though successful, since Valium does have fewer side effects, it is still dangerous, especially for those who don’t follow their doctor’s prescriptions.
The majority of Valium abusers combine it with other drugs like alcohol, a depressant, or prescription sleeping pills or painkillers, not knowing the dangers that come with these drug cocktails. They do this to intensify Valium’s sedative effects, but doing so puts users at a significantly higher risk of overdose. It is common for some users to use Valium as a heroin substitute, and some people have used it along with methadone, a longer-acting prescription opioid that acts similarly to morphine.
Mixing Valium with alcohol and other drugs, even prescription ones (such as benzodiazepines, opioid pain medications, barbiturates) creates harmful and life-threatening side effects, which include:
- Loss of consciousness
- Brain damage
Using one or more substances with Valium also raises the chances that users will find themselves battling addictions to one or more drugs, making the recovery period even longer.
Clients who receive treatment for Valium addiction should tell the health care professional who is monitoring their detoxification that they have had alcohol or other substances so withdrawals from those substances can be addressed with adequate treatment.
Valium Abuse Statistics
- Possession of any amount of diazepam (a controlled substance) without a valid prescription can lead to felony charges.
- In 2011, doctors had reportedly written 14.7 million prescriptions for Valium.
- In 2013, nearly 1.2 million people abused benzos like Valium for the first time.
- According to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), in 2011, Valium was the fourth-most prescribed benzo in the U.S. There were 15 million prescriptions written.
Start Your Journey to Recovery Today
Valium addiction can suddenly creep up leaving you feeling terrified. But don’t worry—hope is not lost. The addiction specialists at Arete Recovery are here to help.
Call us anytime at (855) 781-9939 or contact us online to learn about various treatment options that can be specifically tailored to meet your needs. Learn about our residential facility and how you can afford quality addiction treatment. We provide an inviting atmosphere that promotes healing from addiction as our clients undergo the process of recovery, from medical detoxification to aftercare services.