Valium Addiction and Abuse

Valium is a drug used for its calming properties. It is often used to treat anxiety or muscle spasms. It’s also highly addictive and commonly abused.

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Understanding Valium Addiction

10 mg Valium pills

Valium is an addictive benzodiazepine with longer-lasting effects than other drugs in its class. An addiction to Valium can progress quickly if the drug is used in a way not directed by a doctor. Over time, it is harder for a Valium abuser’s brain to function normally without the drug. Yet, some people addicted to Valium may not even realize they have a problem.

Taking Valium for longer than 4-6 weeks, even with a prescription from a doctor, increases the likelihood of becoming addicted.

One of the telltale symptoms of a Valium addiction is needing larger doses to feel the drug’s effects. Other signs of an addiction to Valium include:

  • Strong cravings for the drug
  • Isolation from family and friends
  • Continued use despite problems caused by the drug
  • Loss of interest in once enjoyable activities
  • Ignoring obligations

Once a user has a tolerance to Valium’s effects, they could also have withdrawal symptoms if they stop taking it. Valium withdrawal can be dangerous and uncomfortable, which makes it hard to for addicted people to quit on their own. The symptoms of withdrawal are intense, and many people addicted to Valium need the drug to feel normal.

I was taking so many pills that I wasn’t even taking them to get high anymore. I was taking them to feel normal. Not that I didn’t get high. I just had to take a ridiculous amount. I want to say in a day I could consume anywhere from 40 to 60 Valium.

- Rapper Eminem (Marshall Mathers), Rolling Stone, 2011
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What Is Valium (Diazepam)?

Valium is most often prescribed to relieve anxiety, muscle spasms and seizures. It is also used to ease uncomfortable symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. Valium works by diminishing hyperactive brain function to relieve severe stress and anxiety. It is ingested orally in pill form and usually taken 1-4 times per day when prescribed by a doctor. Valium is a long-acting benzodiazepine. This means it stays in the body much longer than shorter-acting benzos like Halcion. Because of Valium’s long-lasting nature, people can take fewer doses per day than they would with shorter-acting benzos.

Valium is meant for people to take on a regular basis to be effective. But when someone starts taking Valium more than prescribed, or without a prescription, they increase their risk of becoming addicted.

How Long Do Other Benzos Last?
Brands Ativan Librium Valium
Length of Action Short-acting Intermediate Long-acting
Time 10-20 hours 10-30 hours 20-100 hours

Slang terms for Valium include: Vs, Yellow Vs (5 mg), Blue Vs (10 mg), benzos or tranks.

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Effects of a Valium and Reasons for Abuse

Valium is most often used by people who need help dealing with the stress of daily life. These people are also the ones most likely to abuse it. While there are several reasons for Valium abuse, many of those abusing the drug don’t take it to get high. They take it to feel normal — to relieve stress and anxiety. People also abuse Valium because it helps them sleep. Valium produces a sense of intense calm and euphoria, especially in higher doses.

[Valium] makes it so you have no problem. I mean the house could burn down and you’d just sit there saying, OK, this is all right.

- Former Valium addict Sayra Small, NPR, 2014

Many people mistakenly think that because it is legal, Valium must be safe and less addictive than street drugs like heroin or cocaine. Due in part to these misconceptions, many people have accidentally overdosed.

Some signs of a Valium overdose include:

  • Bluish lips
  • Double vision
  • Drowsiness
  • Trouble breathing
  • Weakness
  • Uncoordinated movement
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Common Drug Combinations

Valium is often abused in combination with additional prescription medications and alcohol. Because Valium depresses the central nervous system, it is especially dangerous to combine with other drugs that do the same. Most overdoses from Valium occur when the drug is mixed with other central nervous system (CNS) depressants like alcohol and opiates.

Benzodiazepines and the opiates both can cause death when you take too much of them. But … they make each other stronger. And so one plus one doesn’t equal two; it equals three or four.

- Dr. Michael Kelley, NPR, 2014

Valium Statistics

14.7

million

Doctors wrote 14.7 million prescriptions for Valium in 2011.

3x

admissions

Admissions for benzo treatment (including Valium) tripled between 1998 and 2008.

1.2

million

In 2013, there were approximately 1.2 million people who abused benzos like Valium for the first time.

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Valium Addiction Treatment

Treatment centers specializing in Valium recovery can help mitigate withdrawal symptoms and decrease the odds of relapse. Attempting to detox from Valium without professional help can lead to medical problems and falling back into abuse. Connect with a treatment provider who can help you find get on track to a sober life.

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