Valium Addiction: Symptoms, Signs & Side Effects

Last Updated: September 22, 2023

Valium is a brand-name drug, and the generic name is diazepam. A similar medication that’s often prescribed for similar reasons is Xanax, which is the generic drug alprazolam. Despite the medical uses of Valium, it has the potential for recreational abuse and addiction as well.

Symptoms of Valium

Valium is a prescription benzodiazepine. Benzodiazepines are a class of drugs that affect the central nervous system. They specifically affect GABA, which is a calming neurotransmitter in the brain. When someone uses Valium, the increased effects of GABA help them calm down and feel less anxious. Valium can be prescribed not only for anxiety disorders but also certain seizure . The drug is also sometimes used to treat symptoms of alcohol withdrawal..

Benzodiazepines like Valium are very commonly prescribed. Valium is useful in treating specific anxiety disorders like generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Less frequently, Valium might be prescribed to treat muscle spasms or nerve disorders.

When someone uses Valium, whether by prescription or otherwise, specific side effects can occur. Valium side effects can include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle weakness
  • Clumsiness (known as ataxia)

More serious Valium side effects can include:

  • Confusion
  • A headache
  • Constipation
  • Slurred speech
  • Changes in vision
  • Depression
  • Dizziness
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Dry mouth
  • Sexual dysfunction

Even more severe side effects of Valium that may require immediate medical attention include:

  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Extreme weakness
  • Problems breathing or swallowing
  • Fainting
  • Swelling of the face, tongue or lips
  • Panic attacks
  • Rage
  • Hallucinations or delusions

Side Effects of Valium

Along with the Valium effects named above, other effects can occur. Two are addiction and dependence. The likelihood of addiction and dependence increase the more someone uses the drug, and the longer they consume it. If someone abuses Valium, it significantly increases the chance of an addiction forming. Signs of Valium abuse can include:

  • Using it without a prescription
  • Taking higher doses than prescribed
  • Taking it only for specific Valium effects, such as euphoria or relaxation
  • Continuing to use it longer than prescribed

If someone becomes addicted to Valium, this is a diagnosable disorder. Signs of Valium addiction can include:

  • Avoiding family and loved ones
  • Being secretive or defensive about the use of Valium
  • Taking Valium despite harmful side effects
  • Having at least one serious failed attempt to cut down on or stop using Valium
  • Making Valium a priority above other commitments

If a person is addicted to Valium or abusing it, they are likely to be physically dependent on it as well. Valium symptoms of dependence include having withdrawal symptoms if attempting to stop using it or cut down on the dosage used.

Side Effects of Long-Term Valium Abuse

The signs of Valium abuse can become more apparent the longer someone uses the drug. Over time a person may seem to be regularly disoriented and confused. They may have slurred speech and impaired memory, judgment, and overall thinking. Using Valium over a long period makes it difficult to form new memories. Long-term use of Valium can cause significant cognitive impairment.

Long-term use of sedative drugs like Valium is also linked to worsened psychological symptoms. For example, a person might experience depression or psychotic symptoms if they abuse Valium for a long time.

Signs of a Valium Overdose

When someone uses Valium, it slows their central nervous system, breathing and heart rate. If someone takes a dose of Valium that’s higher than what their central nervous system can handle, their breathing may slow to the point where their brain isn’t getting enough oxygen, or their breath might stop altogether. Valium symptoms of an overdose can include:

  • Physical weakness
  • Tremors
  • Shakiness
  • Lack of coordination
  • Confusion
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Double vision
  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Rapid, uncontrollable eye movement
  • Excitability
  • Being awake but unresponsive
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Changes in breathing
  • Low blood pressure
  • Having a blue tint to the lips or fingernails

While it’s possible to overdose on Valium by itself, a common occurrence is people overdosing when they mix benzodiazepines with other substances.. Many doctors used to prescribe patients both opioids and benzodiazepines simultaneously, but now there is a black box warning about this on the medications. When two central nervous system depressant drugs are combined, it raises the chance of an overdose significantly. Alcohol is another substance that can lead to an overdose when combined with a benzodiazepine like Valium.

If you or someone you know struggles with Valium abuse, don’t wait to get help. Valium addiction is treatable. To learn more about Valium addiction treatment options and programs, including medical detoxinpatient and outpatient care, contact Orlando Recovery Center.

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