Valium (diazepam) is a prescription benzodiazepine commonly prescribed to prevent seizures or alleviate anxiety. However, even users with a valid need for the medication can become dependent. It can take as little as a few weeks to several months for the outward signs of Valium addiction to develop. Watching for these physical and behavioral warning signs will help you determine whether a family member or friend is engaging in Valium or has developed an addiction.
Physical Symptoms and Signs of Valium Addiction
As a sedating medication, Valium reduces activity in the central nervous system (CNS), meaning that vital functions of the body, such as heartbeat, respiration, and digestion, can be impacted by Valium abuse. The user may appear to be drowsy much of the time or be difficult to arouse from sleep. He or she might exhibit shallow and slow breathing, pale skin, and impaired motor coordination.
These symptoms may be present even when the person is using Valium at prescribed doses. At high doses, the effects may resemble profound alcohol intoxication.
Excessive users may present with the signs and symptoms as follows:
- Impaired judgment
- Slurred speech
- Double vision
- Dry mouth
- Nausea and vomiting
- Painful or difficult urination
- Reduced appetite
- Muscle spasms
Valium addiction can have dangerous health consequences, including low blood pressure, respiratory depression, seizures, dizziness, and overdose. When Valium is used in conjunction with alcohol, sleeping pills, or other substances that have a sedating effect, the risk of an overdose is even higher.
Behavioral and Psychological Signs of Valium Addiction
For decades, Valium has been among the most commonly used anti-anxiety medications in the U.S. However, abusers may experience an amplification of the same psychological symptoms that prompted them to seek help initially.
Behavioral and psychological signs of Valium addiction may include the following:
- Increased anxiety
- Disorganized thoughts
- Impaired memory
Someone who is dependent on Valium will exhibit an increased concern about obtaining and using the medication, even at the cost of his or her health and well-being. Social withdrawal may occur as the user begins spending more time using the drug and recovering from its effects.
The person may neglect work and family responsibilities and lose interest in his or her favorite activities. Personal grooming habits and hygiene may decline, and the addicted person may borrow or steal money or attempt to obtain the drug from dealers to maintain their habit.
When used for a prolonged period, Valium use can result in physical and psychological dependence. Dependence occurs when the brain adapts to the continual presence of the drug and begins to require it in order to function normally. When chemical dependence develops into addiction, the user’s need for Valium becomes a persistent, compulsive preoccupation.
The chronic effects of Valium abuse can have a severe impact on the user’s physical and psychological health. And yet, thousands of people become addicted to Valium and other benzos each year, despite the well-established health risks.
Co-Occurring Mental Illness
A co-occurring mental health disorder often accompanies the long-lasting effects of Valium misuse. There is a heightened risk of benzodiazepine abuse among those with mental illnesses, such as severe depression and bipolar disorder. For people with mental health problems that require treatment, medications with less potential for abuse and addiction are usually recommended.
Getting Help for Valium Addiction
Recovering safely from Valium addiction requires more than a commitment to stop using the drug. Those who try to discontinue Valium use without medical supervision are at risk of developing severe rebound effects on the CNS, such as seizures, extreme anxiety, and muscle spasms.
To minimize the effects of withdrawal, a physician can prescribe a drug taper or gradual dose reduction. Around-the-clock supervision from clinical staff helps to prevent potentially life-threatening withdrawal symptoms.
In addition to the risks of withdrawal and the discomfort of its effects, research has shown that people have a much better chance at maintaining long-term recovery if they have the support of a multidisciplinary treatment team. Harmony Treatment and Wellness employs caring addiction specialists dedicated to providing each client with the tools and support they need to recover from drug addiction and foster long-lasting sobriety and wellness.
We offer integrated programs in both partial-hospitalization and outpatient formats that include evidence-based services, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, counseling, group support, aftercare planning, and more.
If you or someone you love is exhibiting signs of Valium addiction, contact us today. Discover how we help people free themselves from the chains of addiction for good!