Valium® (diazepam) is one of the most commonly prescribed benzodiazepines or “benzos.” It’s used in a clinical context to treat a full range of anxiety and panic disorders. When misused or abused, however, Valium has the potential to be highly addictive, and contributes to thousands of overdose fatalities each year. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that overdose deaths related to Valium and other benzodiazepines neared 30,000 in 2015, and that these drugs are also present in 30 percent of opioid overdoses. Valium is meant to be used in limited clinical contexts under the strict guidance of a medical professional. The potency and potential for diversion and addiction associated with this drug mandate access to quality valium addiction treatment resources.
The path to Valium abuse and addiction can have many origins. Some users start out taking the drug for a legitimate medical issue and end up taking more of the drug than they should each dose, and at more frequent intervals than is prescribed by their doctor. Research indicates that there were 6.6 million diazepam prescriptions written in 2016. This is down more than half from 2011, a suggestion that clinical administration of the drug is on a steady decline; however, there is still a fair amount of culpability from healthcare providers in the addiction crisis. According to data from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Valium was once the fourth-most commonly prescribed drug overall in the United States.
Recreational use is another primary driver of valium addiction. It’s not uncommon for young adults to take the drug to cope with stress from their personal professional lives, and for teenagers to steal their family members’ legitimate supplies for street sale of personal use. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports that over 20 million Americans misuse benzodiazepines like Valium each year. Valium addiction begins when users start developing tolerance and exhibiting withdrawal symptoms. Diazepam and other benzodiazepines create serious and long-term changes in the brain’s chemistry, including impediment of the dopaminergic response system, which leads to intense and uncontrollable cravings.
Valium addiction is often exhibited through a variety of physical, emotional and behavioral signs, including, but not limited to:
Some of the more severe side effects of prolonged and untreated Valium abuse include drowsiness, weakness, blurred vision, seizures, skin rash, irregular heartbeat, confusion, dizziness, slowed breathing and more. Valium is a central nervous system depressant that is particularly dangerous when mixed with alcohol. Simultaneous drinking and Valium use can severely slow down breathing and heart rate to the point of stoppage. Many of the ER admissions and overdoses associated with Valium abuse involve the simultaneous use of alcohol.
Effective Valium addiction treatment must include comprehensive interventions to address the physical, emotional and behavioral aspects of the disease. While each patient’s program should be tailored to their individual care needs and lifestyle, every Valium addiction treatment program should include some combination of detox to help mitigate acute withdrawal symptoms along with behavioral rehab to help them address the origins and sustaining factors associated with their abuse. Many patients will have underlying care needs associated with their Valium, such as anxiety or sleep disorder that will be exacerbated by consistent abuse and withdrawal. It’s important that rehab program address these associated factors, as well.
Valium abuse and addiction’s impact on the central nervous system can lead to serious physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms. In the most severe cases, these symptoms can be life threatening. Medically supervised detox allows patients to safely and comfortably get through the worst parts of their withdrawal symptoms with the assistance of experienced and qualified doctors and nurses. Many who have engaged in long-term Valium abuse make the mistake of thinking they can detox on their own and wind up relapsing as a result.
Some of the more common physical and psychological Valium withdrawal symptoms include:
The timeline of detox generally coincides with that of acute withdrawal (three to seven days). Patients may experience lingering withdrawal symptoms for which they can receive ongoing assistance from their primary care physician. Tapering may also be an effective tool in helping patients incrementally get off Valium.
Valium rehab is the process by which patients address the behavioral, psychological, and lifestyle fallout they’ve experienced as a result of their addiction. It involves a combination of group therapy, individualized counseling, and a combination of supplemental therapies that may include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), motivational interviewing, family therapy, and more. The fabric of each patient’s treatment program will vary according to their care needs and the resources of the facility they choose. There are multiple types of Valium rehab programs, including but not limited to inpatient, outpatient, intensive outpatient, long-term, partial day programs, and more.
During Valium rehab, patients work with their therapists to address the root causes and subsequent consequences of their Valium abuse. This includes identifying any co-occurring disorders associated with Valium use, developing emotional coping tools for everyday relapse prevention, and developing a plan to address the lifestyle damage they’ve sustained in the wake of their addictions. As patients are nearing completion of their program, they should be given a comprehensive and realistic aftercare plan that allows them to continue the progress they made in treatment. These plans are crucial to helping patients successfully transition back to their families and everyday lives after treatment, and should include referral information for addiction-trained therapists and support groups in their area.
Maybe you’re not yet convinced that you have a problem even though your life is falling apart because of your Valium use; maybe you think you’re past the point of no return and that there’s no way to get better. Wherever Valium addiction has taken you, the only way back is through quality and effective treatment. You don’t have to struggle with Valium addiction alone anymore. End the sleepless nights, end the constant anxiety, end the disorientation and confusion today by getting the help you need to overcome Valium addiction.
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