Valium is a highly addictive prescription medicine of the benzodiazepine family. The intended purpose of this drug is to control seizures, relieve anxiety and prevent muscle spasms. Valium creates a soothing effect in the user’s body within 30 to 60 minutes after ingestion. However, excessive use of the drug can lead to an addiction. Even people who need the drugs to manage conditions may end up becoming dependent. It’s not easy to tell when you begin to misuse a substance, especially if you legitimately need it.
About one in every five people taking Valium and other benzodiazepines misuse the potentially addictive medication. The habit doesn’t develop overnight, and you might not even notice that you or your loved ones are addicted until after a few months. Here is a detailed guide aimed at providing relevant information about Valium abuse to help you notice signs of dependency once they appear
What Is Valium Abuse?
Valium abuse is the prolonged use of more than the prescribed dosage, which results in tolerance and addiction. Under normal conditions, gamma-aminobutyric acid, also known as GABA, inhibits specific brain signals to reduce the nervous system’s activities and maintain inhibitory balance. People with certain conditions like panic or anxiety attacks don’t produce enough GABA. They use Valium to stimulate the brain to produce GABA and create relief from stressful situations.
Users can feel the effects shortly after taking the drug, and that’s the reason for its popularity. Over time, continuous use of Valium can limit your brain’s ability to produce GABA naturally, so you become entirely dependent on the drug. People of all demographics can abuse Valium; according to survey, about 8.1% of Americans aged 12 years and above abuse prescription sedatives like Valium.
There are various reasons why people abuse Valium. While some people do it for recreational purposes, others take Valium in an attempt to escape stressful environments. Also, there is a group of people who abuse the drug without even realizing it. Such people fail to recognize that taking Valium prescribed to another patient or beyond their own prescribed dosage could lead to addiction.
Signs of Valium Addiction
When addicted, Valium users lose control of how they use the drug. Excessive intake of the drug might affect how people spend their time and money, and it can cause some devastating effects both mentally and physically. If you are concerned that you or your loved ones suffer from Valium addiction, look out for the following signs to know when to seek help.
Signs of Dependence
One primary symptom of Valium addiction is taking the drug in higher doses or for longer than prescribed. Over time, the body becomes tolerant to the drug, and you will realize that you need more than required to achieve the desired relaxing effects. You then begin to take higher and higher doses at a time, and you might continue using it even after the end of the prescribed period. Some people go to the extent of visiting different doctors to get a new prescription.
Others will begin to buy large quantities of the drug online on websites that don’t require a prescription. If your family members acquire the drug illegally, they may start storing them in unmarked containers or bags. Also, crushing and snorting the pill is a sign that you are suffering from a Valium addiction. Some people still consume Valium even if it causes adverse health issues.
Valium slows down nervous system activities, so taking too much of the drug can affect vital body functions like respiration, digestion and heartbeat. Users who take too much Valium will appear too sedated. Such individuals seem tired most times, and they experience difficulty waking up.
Note that Valium stays in the body longer than other sedatives, and with continued use, it can build up in the system and cause worse symptoms. You might begin to observe higher injury and accident rates with Valium users due to poor coordination.
High Valium intake can lead to dizziness, blurred vision, muscle weakness and slurred speech. With continued use, the drug affects your ability to cope with stress. In extreme cases, Valium misuse could cause low blood pressure and skin yellowing. Other signs of Valium over-dependence include:
- Dry mouth
- Poor judgment
- Double vision
- Painful urinating
- Muscle spasms
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and diarrhea
- Respiratory problems
Mental and Psychological Changes
According to some research, Valium has similar addictive effects compared to heroin. One report tells a story of a woman addicted to Valium, which made her very snappy and hypersensitive. It’s clear that Valium addiction can cause some behavioral and psychological changes.
Someone who has a Valium addiction will typically show more interest in obtaining the drug than meeting other basic needs. They could begin to neglect family responsibilities. Due to Valium overdependence, addicted individuals may experience unexplainable financial problems.
The more Valium you take, the higher your tolerance, which creates a continuous need for the drug. With time, it gets expensive to buy drugs, especially from unknown sources. Some people will go to the extent of selling their possessions and getting into debt to satisfy their addiction. They may even borrow money for rent or food only to buy more Valium. Personal grooming and hygiene can decline too.
Due to the addiction, you might not be able to put enough effort into your schoolwork or job the way you previously did. If you often feel drowsy, you can easily miss work and school as well. As a result, you might suffer job loss, which will only cause more money problems.
When Valium dependence turns into an addiction, the urge to use the drug becomes irresistible. Many users begin to lose interest in things and activities they previously loved. Such people spend most of their time acquiring the drug, using it and enjoying the effects. They will thus have less time for hobbies or family.
Other users can get into illegal activities like fighting or stealing high-value items to buy Valium. You may notice that they hang out with a new set of friends, particularly others who abuse drugs. Those who use Valium also become more secretive, especially when you ask them about their whereabouts, and they get annoyed when questioned about such changes. The addiction might also lead to broken relationships. Other symptoms associated with Valium addiction include:
- Disorganized or irrational thinking
- Memory problems
Signs of Withdrawal
When addicted, your body will rely on Valium for proper functioning. If you miss taking the drug, you might begin to experience withdrawal signs. Some Valium withdrawal symptoms include:
- Sensitivity to touch, noise and light
- Extreme tingling
Effects on the Brain
One main danger of Valium addiction is that it can have severe effects on your brain. With continuous use, the substance accumulates in your system and affects judgment and cognition. Some people even begin to develop suicidal thoughts. Valium abuse can lead to rebound anxiety, delusional beliefs, difficulty concentrating, slow reflexes and memory loss. Rehab facilities like Granite Recovery Centers often treat people who suffer from both substance abuse and psychological disorders because one can cause the other.
Effects on the Body
Note that Valium can be very dangerous when mixed with alcohol and other sedatives. It can slow down the heart rate, affect breathing and eventually cause organ failure. Over time, Valium addiction can cause dangerous effects on the body. Users will begin to experience visual disturbances, fatigue, general body weakness and muscle pain. Others will have to deal with constipation, vertigo, abdominal pain and indigestion. Heavy Valium users may also experience convulsions or coma.
Intervention and the Next Steps
Although some people might be aware that they are experiencing addiction symptoms, not all users are ready to stop taking the drug. This is the most complex issue with drug addiction. The substance alters the user’s thinking, so they believe that everything is fine while it’s not.
Understanding the symptoms paves the way for a person to get the necessary medical help to overcome addiction. If you notice that someone close to you is abusing Valium, it’s recommended to talk them into seeking professional assistance as soon as possible. You should approach your loved one when they are less likely to be intoxicated to avoid aggression.
Note that recovering from drug addiction requires more than a personal commitment. While you can choose to stop taking the drug without medical support, this could cause dangerous rebound effects on your nervous system. A professional will prescribe a gradual dose reduction and constantly monitor your progress to minimize withdrawal symptoms. With professional help, you have better chances of recovery.
Medical detoxification is typically the first step of any drug addiction treatment. The doctor will be able to monitor and address withdrawal symptoms to reduce discomfort. The detoxification process can last for several days or weeks, depending on the addiction level. You might experience some symptoms like nausea, insomnia, irritability, chills and pains during detox. Most people make it through this step smoothly with constant monitoring.
Granite Recovery Centers provides medical detoxification for people who do not need immediate medical intervention, are not a danger to themselves, and are capable of self-evacuation in the event of an emergency.
The Inpatient Treatment
This is a form of treatment where you live and participate in therapy within a health facility for several weeks or months. A professional health care worker will begin by conducting a comprehensive analysis of your mental and psychological state. This information will help the doctor determine the best way to handle the situation.
During inpatient treatment, you will then undergo comprehensive therapy. The goal here is for both the patient and doctor to understand the reasons behind the Valium addiction. The medical practitioner will try to help you understand the level of damage the drug could cause to your body and, at the same time, advise you on how to go about your daily activities without using Valium.
With your therapist, you will develop better strategies for dealing with addiction and handling situations that tempt you to abuse the drug. The doctor can also connect you with support groups to share ideas with other people who have been through similar experiences, which keeps the principles learned in therapy fresh in your mind. With these peer groups, you will always find help if you want to talk to someone, and you can learn new coping strategies that will help you achieve long-term sobriety.
Outpatient Treatment Program
If your addiction isn’t so severe to the extent that you need constant monitoring, you can seek outpatient treatment. You will stay at home and come into the rehab facility for treatment several days a week. This type of therapy is recommended for people who are dependent on Valium but not necessarily at the point of addiction. Even for outpatient treatment, you might still have to go through detoxification with at least 24 hours of supervision to make sure withdrawal symptoms aren’t too severe. For the outpatient treatment to be effective, you need to make your doctor visits very regular and consistent. The treatment will typically involve individual group therapies, skill-building sessions and meditation. If your dependency is mild, an outpatient treatment program is generally effective at giving you resources to stop your drug use.
Drug addiction recovery is a continuous process, and even after the inpatient treatment, you might require some professional support offered in an outpatient program. After receiving your medication and attending a therapy session, you can go back to work or school as you continue to work on your recovery.
The causes of Valium abuse vary, but the risk associated with addiction can cause adverse health issues to users regardless of their reason for using the drug. Therefore, watch out for signs and symptoms of Valium addiction as outlined above and seek medical help as early as possible. Although overcoming the habit may seem like a challenging endeavor, with the proper support, recovery is possible. The recovery period may vary, but with time, you can find freedom from addiction. If you’re ready to get started, Granite Recovery Centers can help you decide on the right type of treatment.