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Valium is a benzodiazepine medication often prescribed for seizures and anxiety disorders. Benzodiazepines like Valium work by slowing down the transmission of neurons (brain and nerve cells). By slowing neuron transmission, Valium treats seizures and creates a sense of relaxation.
Because benzodiazepines can cause a sense of euphoria, some people decide to misuse drugs like Valium. Prolonged misuse can lead to dependence and addiction, and these conditions are often difficult to recover from alone. Fortunately, Valium addiction treatment and recovery services are available at the Orlando Recovery Center.
Understanding Valium Addiction
While Valium has some prescribed medical uses, it is a Schedule IV controlled substance that can be addictive. Due to this addictive potential, Valium and other benzodiazepines are primarily designed for short-term use. In most cases, a doctor will not prescribe Valium for more than a few weeks. This is because the longer someone uses it, the more likely they are to become addicted.
How does Valium work?
Valium boosts the activity of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a brain chemical that transmits messages through the body. If someone doesn’t have enough GABA, they can experience anxiety. Since Valium increases the effects of GABA, it can therefore reduce feelings of anxiety. Valium can also slow brain activity, which is why side effects include drowsiness.
What is Valium prescribed for?
Valium is prescribed for a number of different reasons, including:
- Alcohol withdrawal
- Neuroleptic malignant syndrome
- Serotonin syndrome
Among these conditions, Valium is most commonly prescribed for anxiety and alcohol withdrawal. Typically, the drug is only used on a short-term basis due to the risk of addiction.
Why Is Valium Addictive?
Valium is addictive because it can create pleasant feelings or even a sense of euphoria, especially when misused. Substances that have this effect can trigger a reward response in the brain. When this occurs, the brain wants to compulsively seek out the stimulus that led to pleasant feelings, which is how addiction forms. The longer a person uses Valium, the more likely they are to become addicted to it.
The drug can also cause a physical dependence to develop over time. When someone’s brain and central nervous system are repeatedly exposed to the effects of Valium, a need to continue using it develops. This is dependence. If a person becomes dependent on Valium and then reduces their dosage or stops using it suddenly, they’re likely to go through withdrawal symptoms. Many people who are addicted to Valium are also physically dependent on the substance.
How Prevalent Is Valium Misuse?
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), 16% of adult overdose deaths involved benzodiazepines in 2019. Mixing benzodiazepines with other drugs also greatly increases the risk of deadly overdoses. NIDA states that those who take both benzodiazepine and opioid prescriptions are 10 times more likely to suffer a fatal overdose compared to people who only take an opioid.
A 2019 study found that misuse accounts for nearly 20% of all benzodiazepine use. The study also indicated that about 70% of people who misuse benzodiazepines receive them from a friend or relative. The most commonly reported reasons for benzodiazepine misuse included relaxation and improved sleep.
Previously, people over the age of 65 had the highest rate of benzodiazepine use. The current trend is that usage is becoming more common with younger adults. According to the study, adults aged 50 to 64 had the highest use rate. However, the age group with the higher misuse rate was adults aged 18 to 25.
How Is Valium Addiction Treated?
Valium addiction can be hard to detect. Addiction occurs when a person continues to use a drug even when it causes damage to their relationships, career and life in general. Specialized treatment is often necessary to help someone end drug use and begin the recovery process.
When someone misuses Valium for long periods, they can also become dependent. Dependency is when a person’s body relies on a drug to function normally. If a person with dependence stops taking the drug, they will experience a variety of uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.
Since Valium has a high risk for withdrawal symptoms, addiction treatment usually starts with medical detox. During medical detox, a health care team monitors each client for dangerous symptoms like seizures and provides necessary treatment.
Once detox is complete, a person will begin addiction treatment in an inpatient or outpatient setting. Inpatient treatment is for severe addictions that must be managed in a controlled setting. Many people begin outpatient treatment following an inpatient program, but those with less severe addictions may begin outpatient programs immediately following detox. Outpatient treatment allows people to continue meeting obligations outside of rehab, such as school and work.
Help for Valium Addiction in Orlando
Valium abuse and addiction can be life-threatening, but there are many ways to find the treatment you need. If you or someone you love is struggling with Valium abuse or addiction, the Orlando Recovery Center is here to help. Our multidisciplinary team of experts is trained to treat Valium addiction as well as co-occurring mental health disorders like anxiety. Contact us today to learn more about Valium addiction treatment programs that can work well for your situation.
Food and Drug Administration. “Valium Package Insert.” 2016. Accessed January 4, 2022.
Maust, Donovan; et al. “Benzodiazepine Use and Misuse Among Adul[…]n the United States.” Psychiatric Services, February 2019. Accessed January 4, 2022.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Benzodiazepines and Opioids.” February 2021. Accessed January 4, 2022.
The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.