Valium, a powerful benzodiazepine that is commonly prescribed to patients suffering from panic disorder and other forms of anxiety, is sometimes known by the generic name, diazepam. According to the FDA, diazepam creates a sedative response including muscle relaxation and anticonvulsant effects that are conducive to sedation. The effects can last for a few hours or more depending on the dose that is taken as well as the frequency of dosing.
When valium is taken orally, approximately 90% of the drug is absorbed within the first hour. The remaining medication will linger in the system, gradually taking effect over the next 2.5 hours. Valium is used to manage anxiety disorder and tension associated with stress.
This medication may also be prescribed during the treatment of alcohol withdrawal to help reduce the symptoms of acute agitation and tremors associated with delirium tremens or moderate to severe withdrawal from alcohol.
Some doctors will prescribe Valium for the treatment of muscle spasms. Such treatment is often used to control inflammation of the muscles. Valium can also be prescribed to treat symptoms of paraplegia or cerebral palsy, providing the patient with more comfort against the stiffness or tension associated with these conditions.
You may recognize that someone you love has taken valium because he or she slows down, acts relaxed and is otherwise more laid back than usual. According to Medline Plus, valium use can lead to the following side effects:
- Dry Mouth or Dehydration
- Reduced Anxiety
The following side effects of valium use are considered dangerous and should be immediately reported to a healthcare practitioner:
- Tremor or inability to sit still, as if anxiety has peaked rather than been reduced
- A rash on the skin that becomes severe
- Jaundice (Yellowing of the eyes or the skin)
- Irregular Heartbeat
Certain signs of valium use will often go away on their own with continued use of the medication. Such symptoms include:
- Mild Diarrhea or Constipation
- Frequent Urination
- Blurred Vision
- Inability to Perform Sexually
- Changes in Sexual Desire
- Appetite Changes (Reduced appetite or an increase in appetite)
- Trouble Urinating
If these symptoms persist, users should seek prompt medical treatment to determine whether the use of valium is still considered safe for the patient.
According to PubMed, diazepam or Valium does have a potential for addictive use. In fact, in a study that was conducted by the National Library of Medicine regarding the most commonly abused drugs, of the 61% of suspected drug overdose patients with positive findings, 25% had diazepam in their system. Early recognition of the possible warning signs of diazepam abuse may help you to determine whether someone you love is in need of professional help.
The Most Common Signs of Valium Abuse Include:
- Impaired Coordination
- Drowsiness Without an Explanation
- Fatigue or Changes in Sleep Patterns
- Slowed Reflexes
- Impaired Cognitive Processes
- Slurred Speech
- Weakness of the Muscles
- Lethargy or Heavy Limbs
- A Relaxed State Even in a Stressful Situation
Many dangers can arise from the misuse and abuse of diazepam. When a user takes the drug for reasons other than prescribed, there is an increased risk of complications arising from overdose. In additional to the overdose risk, valium abuse can lead to:
- Changes in Mood
- Injury Resulting from Slowed Reflexes
- Hostile Behavior
- Erratic Behavior
- Memory Loss
- Impaired Judgment
- Increased Tolerance
- Physical Dependence
According to the Center for Substance Abuse Research, taking repeat doses of Valium for many days or over long periods of time can lead to an increase in the amount of the drug that is stored in fatty tissue. The result is a series of symptoms known commonly as over-sedation which may not appear for a few days following the continued use of the drug.
Such Symptoms May Include:
- Impaired Judgment
- Impaired Thinking
- Impaired Memory
- Severe Confusion
- Chronic Muscle Weakness
- Lack of Coordination
- Slurred Speech
The Most Notable Side Effects of Addiction Include:
- Physical Dependence
- Increased Drug Seeking-Behavior
- Inability to Control Drug Use
- Cravings that are Persistent
Pay close attention to your loved one, or yourself if you are taking Valium.
The following symptoms may signify an addiction that warrants the need for treatment:
- A desire to take Valium regardless of the problems that the drug has caused in your life.
- A lack of interest in things other than Valium.
- Inability to cut back or control the amount of valium that is taken; using more than intended.
- Using Valium to cope with everyday stress rather than working things out in a sober manner.
- Taking Valium to have fun, get along with others or "feel good."
- Becoming preoccupied with valium.
- Stealing or lying to others in order to obtain valium.
- Doctor shopping or using extreme measures to obtain valium.
- Feeling as if you cannot get through a day without Valium.
- Feeling symptoms of withdrawal when valium is not taken.
- Taking more valium than is prescribed or using valium for reasons other than prescribed.
If you are addicted to valium, seeking help right away could save your life.
According to Medline Plus, "overdose occurs when someone accidentally or intentionally takes more than the normal or recommended amount of this medication."
Overdose can lead to an array of physical complications including:
- Labored Breathing
- Blurred Vision
If you suspect that someone you know has taken an overdose amount of Valium, call your local poison control center or seek immediate medical help by calling 911.
According to NYU Langone Medical Center, "it can be dangerous to stop using benzodiazepines if you have taken them for a while." This is because benzodiazepine withdrawal can cause an array of serious side effects in the user including:
- Heightened Anxiety and Fear
- Hypersensitivity to Light and Sound
- Hypersensitivity to Touch
- Physical Tremors
- Suicidal Thoughts
Further Risk Factors Include:
- Using Valium alongside other drugs such as Barbiturates or alcohol.
- Taking valium for any reason other than prescribed.
- Increasing the dose without a doctor's prescription or order to do so.
- Long term or repeat use of the drug.
- Suffering from underlying anxiety disorders or other mental health conditions for which a benzodiazepine may otherwise be prescribed.
People who suffer from valium addiction can seek the help of a qualified treatment center to provide them with guidance and direction that will help them get their lives back on track. The first step of treatment for valium addiction will be a safe, controlled medical detox. During this time, the patient will be stabilized in a medical setting to help curb the withdrawal symptoms and prepare him or her for counseling and therapy.
Following detox, behavioral counseling and therapy sessions will take place to help restore balance into the individual's life.
During This Time, The User Will Receive Support Through:
- Friends and Family Members
- Healthcare Staff
- Others in Recovery
The support that is received during valium addiction treatment can make the difference in whether recovery is achieved or not. While any treatment is better than nothing, supportive treatment is ideal for long-term recovery and growth. If you or someone you know is addicted, seek help through a local treatment facility that can provide you with the guidance, education and foundation of support necessary to facilitate long term growth.