Valium use has long been synonymous with feeling “comfortably numb”. Back in the 60s and 70s, it had even gone by the moniker “Mother’s Little Helpers,” referring to its alleged ability to assuage the pressures of pregnancy, motherhood, single-hood, or other “womanly problems”.
These pills were seen as a coping method for housewives to handle the mundane tasks of everyday lives when women re-entered the domestic life as men returned from World War II. 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.
What is Valium?
Valium is a brand name for the drug diazepam, a member of the benzodiazepine (benzos) class that often produces a calming effect. It is considered a tranquilizer and is commonly used to treat a host of conditions including anxiety, muscle spasms, alcohol and benzo withdrawal symptoms, seizures, sleep trouble, and restless leg syndrome. Valium has also been used as a premedication for inducing sedation or amnesia before some medical procedures.
Reports have actually shown that diazepam’s success caused the “benzo boom,” which increased the production and synthesis of Ativan, Klonopin, and Xanax.
As a depressant drug, Valium strengthens the effects of one of the brain’s neurotransmitters called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), resulting in less activity and minimized anxiety.
Diazepam was first synthesized by Croatian-Jewish Chemist Leo Sternbach while he worked for Swiss multinational healthcare company Hoffmann-La Roche.
Since launching in 1963, diazepam has been the most prescribed medication and was the highest selling medication between 1968 and 1982 in the U.S.—two billion tablets were sold in 1978 alone.
Valium is a long-acting drug that can be taken by mouth, inserted into the rectum, or injected into a muscle or a vein. If administered correctly, Valium should be taken in pill form between one and four times per day, depending on the prescription.
The effects of Valium begin in one to five minutes and last up to an hour when administered into a vein. When taken orally, the drug can take up to 40 minutes before taking effect.
Common side effects include sleepiness and trouble with coordination. Serious adverse effects, though rare, can include suicide, decreased breathing, and an increase in seizures in those afflicted with epilepsy.
Although Valium is a legal substance that serves an actual medical purpose, it was designated as a Schedule IV drug by the Justice Department in 1975. The last decade has witnessed 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.
Valium has been classified as a Schedule IV drug and can only be administered by prescription.
Street names for Valium include: V’s, Yellow V’s, Blue V’s, Benzos, or Tranks.
What are the Signs of Valium Addiction?
The Psychological Effects of Valium Abuse may be More Difficult to Detect, But Here are Some of the More Common Physical Identifiers of Use:
- A change in appearance or hygiene
- Change in eating habits
- Loss of coordination, slow movements and speech
- Frequent sleepiness
- Lowered inhibitions
Also, a person’s reaction time while taking Valium becomes slower. As such, their ability to drive begins to suffer, often weaving through lanes. Additionally, people using Valium may appear to be sedated or look confused or like they’re in a stupor.
Often times, 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
- Trouble breathing
- General weakness
- Uncoordinated movements
In the event of any of these signs, individuals should immediately seek medical help before they escalate drastically to seizures, cardiac arrests, respiratory failure, coma, or even death.
What is Involved in Valium Addiction Treatment?
While ending use is always recommended, abruptly stopping Valium after long-term use is not advised. Rather than suffer alone, those addicted to Valium are urged to seek help from addiction specialists through inpatient or outpatient facilities.
Similar to other benzo medications, medical detox is needed for Valium users in order to process and remove the diazepam from the user’s system. Simultaneously, addiction specialists will assess vitals and manage any onset of medical complications.
Furthermore, Medical Treatment for Valium can Include:
- Gradually reducing the dose
- Switching to another benzo
- Switching to a long-acting barbiturate
Along with medical detox, comprehensive therapy is necessary to identify the root causes behind the addiction to learn how to target subsequent treatment. Cognitive behavioral therapy is often used to discern the patient’s thought processes that led them to addiction.
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 or prescription sleeping pills or painkillers, not knowing the dangers that come with these drug cocktails. These groups of people are at a significantly higher risk of overdose.
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 US. There were 15 million prescriptions written.
Start Your Journey to Recovery Today
Addiction to Valium can suddenly creep up leaving you feeling terrified. But don’t worry–hope is not lost. The addiction specialists at Delphi Behavioral Health Group are here to help. Call us anytime at 844-855-5777 or contact us online to learn about various treatment options that can be specifically tailored to meet your needs.