Signs & Symtpoms of Valium Addiction
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Are you worried that you, or someone you love, might be struggling with Valium addiction? Or perhaps you’ve been prescribed Valium and are worried about developing an addiction? In this article we’ll explore how Valium works, how addictive it is, review some of the main side effects and look at what you can do if you suspect you, or a family member or friend, is addicted.
What is Diazepam (Valium)?
- Valium is a type of benzodiazepine that works by helping your central nervous system relax.
- It is prescribed for issues including anxiety, muscle spasms, and seizures as well as a pre-med to help patients relax before an operation. It is also used to support people through alcohol withdrawal.
- It is a psychoactive drug with the capacity to be both physically and psychologically addictive.
- The government class it as a Class C drug and possession without a prescription can result in up to two years imprisonment.
- Short-term side effects include; dilated pupils, slurred speech and lethargy.
- Warning signs of addiction can include: prioritising Valium above everything else and experiencing cravings and withdrawals.
- Long-term use side effects include; nightmares, anxiety and memory issues. Chronic use may also cause brain damage, similar to those in people addicted to alcohol.
- There are several addiction treatment options for Valium addiction including support groups, counselling and therapy, outpatient rehab and residential rehab.
What Is Valium Prescribed For?
Diazepam (Valium) is usually prescribed to treat a range of conditions, such as anxiety or panic disorders, major depressive disorder, muscle spasms, insomnia, seizures as well as to ease symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.
Despite common belief that Valium is safe and less addictive than other drugs because it is legal and can be taken under doctor’s prescription, Valium is addictive when abused or taken over a long period of time.
Common Valium side-effects include weakness, drowsiness, confusion, blurred vision, irregular heartbeat, dizziness or skin rash. It is very dangerous to combine Valium with other drugs like alcohol and opiates and may lead to convulsions or coma.
Is Valium Addictive?
Valium is a type of medicine known as a benzodiazepine. It’s often referred to as diazepam, Valium is a brand name which is not actually available in the UK anymore. It’s still a commonly used term though, and the one most people are familiar with, so for that reason we will continue to use Valium throughout this article.
Valium works by increasing the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which in turns slows down the central nervous system which helps relax and sedate the person who has taken it. If you don’t have enough GABA, your body will remain in an agitated state which can cause muscle spasms, seizures or anxiety.
Because of this, it is used to treat anxiety, muscle spasms and fits or seizures. It is also used as a pre-med to help people relax before an operation, or when in hospital to combat alcohol withdrawal symptoms like insomnia.
While it is effective and works quickly, Valium can be very addictive and can cause lethal interactions with other drugs, like opioids. It is both physically and psychologically addictive and coming off of it can cause withdrawal symptoms
Because of this, it is not recommended for routine or long-term use. Ideally, you should take Valium at the lowest dose that helps your symptoms for no more than four weeks. This is an important point, as it’s believed there are some 1.5 million people in the UK addicted to benzodiazepines and the number of deaths involving diazepam in the UK has more than quadrupled since records began in 1993.
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Is Valium Psychoactive?
A psychoactive drug refers to a substance that once taken alters the functions of the central nervous system and changes your perception, mood, understanding or behaviour.
Valium is a depressant, it lowers the brain’s activity and calms the central nervous system which is why it can be an effective tool for severe anxiety, insomnia and seizures. As it impacts the nervous system, and in doing so alters various functions, it is considered a psychoactive drug.
UK Government Classification of Valium
The government categorises benzodiazepines, the umbrella Valium comes under, as class C drugs. This means that possession without a prescription is illegal, as is supply or production without a licence. Possession comes with up to a two-year prison sentence and an unlimited fine. Production or supply comes with up to 14 years imprisonment and an unlimited fine.
Signs & Symptoms of Valium Abuse
Valium addiction is often a mistake. People take it for an acute issue such as insomnia or stress, but unfortunately, it is a highly addictive substance and if taken for longer than the recommended time frame you can quickly end up either physically or psychologically dependent on it, or both. While Valium addiction rarely happens instantly, it can quickly spiral. Here are some of the short-term side effects, along with warning signs for both early and long-term diazepam addiction.
When somebody has taken Valium, you might notice the following physical and psychological symptoms:
- Speech changes such as slurring
- Dilated pupils
- Reduced appetite
- Lack of coordination
- Mood changes such as more irritable or sad
Early Warning Signs of Addiction
Valium addiction can be picked up on early, look out for signs such as:
- Losing interest in hobbies
- Difficulty experiencing pleasure
- Becoming secretive about Valium use
- Experiencing cravings
Signs of Long-Term Addiction
If those early warning signs are ignored, the Valium addiction may intensify over time leading to signs such as:
- Prioritising Valium over their personal and professional lives
- Use despite it worsening other health issues
- Becoming confrontational or defensive about their use
- Requiring larger doses of Valium to get the same effects as when they started
- Experiencing intense cravings
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms
Physical Symptoms of Valium Addiction
In addition to the warning signs outlined above, people experiencing a Valium addiction may notice several physical symptoms including:
- Dizzy spells
- Falling over
- Memory loss
- Inability to focus
Valium addiction can have other physical consequences too, including some major health implications like low blood pressure, respiratory depression and even brain seizure activity. There has also been some speculation that chronic use of benzodiazepines can cause brain damage, similar to that seen in alcoholism. According to some research, long-term users have experienced serious cognitive problems as a result of using benzodiazepines.
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When To Get Help for Valium Addiction
People who take Valium will quickly find their tolerance increases and they need larger doses to get the same effect as they did when they first started taking it. Because of this, the conditions it is used for and the mechanics of how it works by altering the nervous system, Valium is both potentially physically and psychologically addictive.
There is, of course, a difference between using Valium and becoming addicted to it. The previous segment on Signs & Symptoms of Valium Abuse outlines some of the key issues to look out for and should help you determine if you have an addiction to Valium. But generally speaking, if you are under the four-week timeframe and are not experiencing cravings or withdrawal symptoms, it is unlikely that you have an addiction.
If however, you think you or someone you love may have an addiction to Valium, now is the time to reach out for some support and help.
Valium addiction is a challenging addiction and it comes with its own particular side effects. The long-term dangers associated with Valium use include:
- Chronic fatigue and lethargy
- Memory issues
- Digestion and stomach problems
- Sleep disturbances
- Cognitive impairment
It is a cruel twist of fate that some of the symptoms associated with long-term Valium use, including insomnia, seizures and anxiety, are the same issues which the medication was first prescribed to treat.
In addition to that, Valium is considered a long-acting benzodiazepine which means it stays in your body for much longer than short-acting similar drugs, such as Xanax. Because of this, the effects tend to last longer and may be more severe.
The biggest issue with long-term Valium use is developing a chemical dependency and addiction to Valium. Over time, the central nervous system will adjust to the use of Valium and you will need higher drugs to achieve the same positive impact.
You will not just suddenly stop taking Valium, as not only will that cause more intense withdrawal symptoms but it can be dangerous and in certain situations lethal. Instead, you will likely be given a different benzodiazepine at a dose that is high enough to limit withdrawal, but no higher.
The first stage of withdrawal can take anywhere from one to three days to start, signs you are entering this stage include anxiety and restlessness. Withdrawal symptoms should peak sometime around the second week of stopping and could include nausea, sweating, insomnia and muscle spasms.
Detoxification from Diazepam (Valium)
Valium withdrawal symptoms might manifest through severe anxiety, panic, restlessness and insomnia, muscle cramps, shakiness, headaches and vomiting. Valium detox can be dangerous without medical guidance.
At Castle Craig, the Valium detox programme is medically supervised so that each patient’s physical and psychological safety is guaranteed. Diazepam (Valium) detox starts with a thorough mental and psychological evaluation by our Consultant Psychiatrist. Based on each patient’s individual assessment, their medical and drug use history, they will be prescribed a personalised detox regime.
We provide 24/7 medically monitored Valium detox. This means that our resident nursing staff supervise patients throughout the day. According to their progress, their detox dose is adjusted accordingly so as to remove the drugs from the body while minimising withdrawal symptoms and preventing complications.
The safest Valium detox method involves gradually reducing the dose on a regular basis, over a period of time until complete abstinence is achieved. Other medication may be used to help ease the diazepam (Valium) withdrawal process.
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Residential Rehab Programme for Diazepam (Valium) Addiction
Completing Castle Craig’s diazepam (Valium) rehab highly increases the chance of a successful Valium recovery.
Castle Craig’s residential rehab programme brings daily routine and healthy habits back into an otherwise chaotic lifestyle. Our Valium treatment programme provides a structured environment of daily specialist group therapy, complementary therapies, 12-step support groups, lectures and shared activities, regular meals and exercise for a sustained recovery.
Each patient has their own personalised treatment plan, which addresses their specific psychological and therapeutic needs. Each patient attends individual counselling with their personal therapist. In these sessions, the patient needs to process the mental and emotional damage of Valium addiction. Together with their therapist, they will formulate strategies to cope with Valium cravings and function in everyday life without using drugs.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a key tool for diazepam (Valium) addiction because it helps patients examine their patterns of thought and behavior that led to Valium abuse.
People struggling with diazepam addiction often develop co-occurring mental disorders. We offer dual-diagnosis treatment to help patients fight any underlying psychological issues that contributed to their dizapam addiction.
Treatment does not end at discharge: Castle Craig remains the patient’s stable resource in recovery after they complete the treatment programme, through a personalised two-year aftercare plan.
Get Help for Diazepam (Valium) Addiction
If you or someone you know is abusing Valium or is struggling with an addiction to diazepam (Valium), early recognition is vital. Take the first step and contact us today. We can arrange quick pre-assessment with one of our Consultant Psychiatrists. Castle Craig Rehab has over 30 years experience in treating benzodiazepine addiction.