Valium, also known as diazepam, is a prescription medication belonging to a class of drugs called benzodiazepines. Its relaxing and calming effects mean that it is often prescribed to treat symptoms caused by anxiety and muscle spasms. Unfortunately, it is also due to these effects that Valium is easily abused, with individuals across all social strata struggling to overcome Valium addiction every day.
If you are one of these people and would like help getting your life back on track, the team at Recovery Lighthouse can assist you.
Why is Valium so addictive?
The reason why so many fall victim to Valium addiction is because of the drug’s effects on neurotransmitters in the brain, which in turn influence the central nervous system. As soon as Valium is ingested and metabolised by the body, it increases the activity of the neurotransmitter, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA’s main job is to slow down or block chemical messages in the central nervous system so when GABA is stimulated, it results in a calming and relaxing effect.
As the central nervous system slows, the brain’s ability to control dopamine is also affected. This means that you may experience heightened levels of this feel-good neurotransmitter, which leads to the pleasant ‘high’ so many people associate with Valium.
However, as you continue to use Valium more frequently, your natural neurotransmitter levels become out of balance and the brain starts to rely on the drug to feel normal. With this dependency, Valium addiction soon follows and you will compulsively use despite any negative ramifications that may arise.
How to spot a Valium addiction
Perhaps your use of Valium is starting to cause you concern, or perhaps you have been using Valium for a long time but are unsure whether you are actually addicted. Spotting a Vallium addiction can be tough, especially if denial seeps into the equation. Being honest with yourself and admitting there is a problem, however, is the most important step when it comes to escaping this condition.
Some questions to as yourself include:
- Do I use Valium outside of the ways prescribed by my doctor?
- Do I find myself reaching for Valium just to get through the day?
- Have I tried to reduce or stop taking Valium but were unable to do so?
- Do I experience withdrawal symptoms if I have not taken Valium?
- Have friends or family expressed concerns about my Valium use?
- Has my Valium use negatively impacted my performance at work or school?
- Do I experience cravings for Valium when I’m not taking it?
If you have answered yes to any of these questions, it is possible that you have an addiction to Valium. While it may be easier to brush your concerns under the rug, continuing on this path could soon lead to devastating personal, financial and health issues. There is no shame in getting help if you believe you have a Valium addiction. Recovery Lighthouse can provide you with all of the tools you need to get clean.
Who is at risk of Valium addiction
Valium addiction can affect anyone, whether it is a prescribed medication or taken for recreational purposes. These two different paths can both lead to Valium addiction and there are several risk factors that can place you more at risk.
If you have been prescribed Valium for a legitimate medical condition, you may be at risk of developing an addiction if:
- You take Valium more frequently than prescribed
- You take higher doses than prescribed
- You take Valium for more than four weeks
On top of these factors, you are more at risk of Valium addiction if:
- You suffer with mental health issues, such as anxiety or depression
- You have experienced past trauma
- You have a family history of addiction
- You struggle to cope with stress or negative emotions
- You have used drugs or alcohol from a young age
Being aware of these risk factors can help protect you from Valium addiction and prevent it from taking hold. If you do fall into one of these categories, taking action against your Valium addiction sooner rather than later is advised.
The side effects of Valium
Both the abuse and addiction of Valium can result in short and long term adverse effects. In the short term, using Valium excessively can cause:
- Drowsiness and fatigue
- Dry mouth
- Blurred eyesight
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Urinary problems
- Reduced libido
- Slowed, shallow breathing
- Irregular heartbeat
When abused over long periods of time, Valium can also cause a number of long-term side effects. These include:
- Issues with memory
- Impaired cognitive function
- Difficulty concentrating
- Aggressive behaviour
It is also possible to overdose on Valium, which can sadly lead to loss of life. In 2021, a total of 290 people died from Valium in the UK alone. Signs of Valium overdose include:
- Difficulties breathing
- Loss of coordination
- Extreme sedation
- Experiencing double vision
- Bluish tint in lips or nails
- Abdominal pain
If you think that someone you know has overdosed on Valium, it is important to seek immediate medical attention.
Valium and polydrug use
Valium is a powerful benzodiazepine drug, and the potential risks involved with polydrug use (or combining with other substances) should not be taken lightly. Unfortunately Valium is commonly used alongside other substances as a way to enhance or mitigate the effects of each drug.
For example, those who take stimulants like ecstasy or cocaine may use Valium as they comedown as a way to ‘take the edge off’ and be able to sleep. However, mixing stimulants with a depressant like Valium can put immense strain on your bodily systems as they battle two opposing forces. This can lead to a heart attack or cardic arrest.
Another example is taking Valium with other depressants, like alcohol. Even individuals who have been prescribed Valium by their doctor are at risk if they do not realise the dangers of combining these substances, which could result in the central nervous system shutting down essential functions like the respiratory and cardiovascular systems.
Due to the unpredictable and potentially life-threatenting risks involved, it is never a good idea to mix Valium with other substances.
How to approach a loved one with Valium addiction
If a person you love is suffering from Valium addiction, your mind may be littered with worries over what to say and do. Having an honest and frank conversation can be difficult, but with some careful planning, it could be a pivotal moment in your loved one’s recovery. Follow our tips on what to do, and what not to do.
- Research Valium addiction and treatment options
- Allow space for your loved one to express their emotions
- Listen carefully
- Convey your support
- Remain calm but truthful
- Encourage them to get help
- Use judgemental language
- Hold grudges or cling to past mistakes
- Continue the conversation if it becomes heated
- Enable their Valium addiction by providing money or making excuses for their behaviour
After your conversation, make sure you are available if they need further support. Keep in mind that relapse can be part of recovery too – provide encouragement whenever possible so your family member knows they have someone who will believe in them regardless of the setbacks they may experience during Valium addiction treatment.
Can I overcome Valium addiction?
Valium addiction treatment is a serious endeavour and requires immense dedication. Inpatient rehab programmes like those at Recovery Lighthouse provide a more focused approach to recovery. Here you can focus all of your attention on the journey to sobriety without the temptations and stress of everyday life.
During this time, a detox period will help the body slowly rid itself of residual effects of Valium addiction. Our team will provide around-the-clock support during this initial stage, ensuring you remain comfortable throughout.
Therapy will then help you to identify why you started abusing Valium in the first place, in turn allowing you to change and understand the thoughts and patterns associated with it. Through both individual and group therapy sessions you will develop vital skills to take forward as you move towards a healthier, drug-free life.
Aftercare is another extremely important tool in making sure that a relapse does not occur. Recovery Lighthouse offers 1 year of free aftercare, including weekly group therapy sessions, to all of our clients. This is imperative in ensuring longevity in your Valium recovery and keeps you on track.
A life without Valium addiction
A life without a Valium addiction can be incredibly empowering. Not only does it allow you to take back control of your life, but it will also result in improved mental well-being and physical health. Other benefits to living a life without Valium addiction may include:
- Increased energy and focus
- Reduced stress levels
- Improved quality of sleep
- Better relationships with friends and family members
- Improved performance in work or school activities
- Being able to make better decisions overall
A life without addiction to Valium is often happier and more meaningful as you will no longer be restricted by your substance abuse habits. If you are ready to start your recovery journey, get in touch with our admissions team today.