A common benzodiazepine, Valium (diazepam), is an antidepressant that is prescribed to treat a number of conditions, but is mostly known for treating anxiety and panic attacks. Per the World Health Organization, Valium is a hugely beneficial medication with proven effects to treat a variety of conditions. In fact, it is such a commonly prescribed medication, you or your loved ones may be currently taking Valium or have taken the drug in the past.
Unfortunately for many, Valium is not associated with such benefits. That’s because many people become dependent on Valium and battle lifelong addictions to the drug. And Valium addiction does not come with a cheap price tag – the cost of maintaining a constant supply of the drug and the ultimate cost of treatment and recovery do not amount to pennies.
From 2003 to 2011, admissions into Valium treatment and recovery centers have increased sevenfold. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reports that Valium abuse is declining very slightly, though Valium is still considered the third most widely abused tranquilizer, behind Xanax and Ativan. Valium is number nine on the list of most prescribed psychiatric medication in the United States.
Valium can be obtained illegally through doctor shopping, forged prescriptions, and on the black market. Street value of Valium averages about $5 per 5mg tablet. Valium is the most common prescribed drug available on the black market due to patients selling their prescriptions or some dishonest doctors channeling the medication on the streets.
Though Valium is listed as a Schedule IV controlled substance on the United States Controlled Substance Act, meaning that there is low potential for abuse, recent Valium addiction statistics counter this classification. Because of rise of Valium abuse within the United States, doctors are required to check patients’ drug histories prior to prescribing Valium and are also required to register the prescription within state databases to track the amount of drug available to a patient at any given time.
According to the Drug Abuse Warning Network, 345,000 emergency room visits are due to Valium addiction/abuse – though many of these cases are the result of abusing both alcohol and Valium. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that over 36,000 cases of overdose are due to prescriptions drugs like Valium, which is more than harder “street drugs” such as heroin and cocaine.
What Happens When You Abuse Valium?
Valium works by strengthening the effects of the GABA neurotransmitter in the brain to slow down brain activity. This lowered brain activity results in reduced anxiety – which is why Valium is typically prescribed to treat anxiety disorders and serves as a muscle relaxant and anti-convulsant.
Valium users who take the drug for four months or longer are more likely to become addicted than individuals who take Valium for a shorter period of time. However, it’s important to note that some people become addicted to the drug without abusing it – that is, by taking Valium as prescribed. The additive nature of the drug is strong enough to lead individuals to engaging in Valium abuse.
When individuals abuse Valium, their tolerance to the drug increases, which means they’ll need more of the drug to continue to get the desired effects. Tolerance is often one of the most common signs of Valium addiction. Other common signs of Valium addiction include:
- Becoming preoccupied with getting the next dose of Valium
- Valium cravings
- Becoming socially isolated
- Lack of interest in activities
- Ignoring obligations (family, friends, and work obligations)
Often, Valium addicts abuse the drug to continue to feel less anxious, as a way to lead a close to normal life. Unlike other drugs, Valium addiction is not always about “getting high.” It’s about being relaxed – and also may be used to help one sleep because of its muscle relaxant properties.
Symptoms of Valium Addiction
If you are concerned that a friend or family member is a Valium addict, the following signs and symptoms are classic of Valium addiction:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Muscle weakness
- Blurred vision and/or double vision
- Loss of interest in sex
- Dilated eyes
- Slower reactions times (especially when driving)
- Hallucinations (in severe addiction)
- Loss of inhibitions
- Coordination problems
- Change in appearance and appetite
- Slow movements/speech
Some of the most common signs of Valium overdose include:
- Double vision
- Bluish lips
- Breathing troubles
- Extreme drowsiness
- Lack of coordination
Most overdoses are the result of abusing Valium in combination with other depressants, such as alcohol or opiates.
Valium Treatment Facilities
Because Valium addiction is often debilitating and/or the person suffering from Valium addiction is unaware of the severity of their condition, treatment and recovery from Valium is best left to the professionals. Many people believe that because Valium is a legally prescribed medication that rehabilitation from addiction to the drug is not as complicated as recovery and treatment from other types of illicit street drugs. However, this is simply not the case. Valium addiction is strong and treatment and recovery within inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation facilities is your best bet for a complete recovery from Valium addiction.
Though Valium addiction is something that you should seek treatment from, Valium abusers should never quit “cold turkey.” Withdrawal from Valium could lead to coma and death, so Valium abusers should be weaned off the drug slowly. Withdrawal symptoms include shakiness, anxiety, and insomnia. Because withdrawal symptoms can be severe, the best way to start treatment and recovery is to undergo a medical detox. As the name states, this type of detox should be done under the supervision of medical professionals within a treatment and recovery facility. Withdrawal symptoms vary in length, but most Valium abusers can undergo full detox within one week. Medical professionals are able to prescribe other drugs to combat the negative withdrawal symptoms.
Beyond the detox process, Valium addiction can be treated in either inpatient or outpatient treatment facilities. How do you know which one is best for you? One overarching question to ask is how severe and debilitating in the addiction? Valium abusers who are at the beginning stages of addiction are more likely to better handle and outpatient treatment and recovery program. Those with severe and debilitating Valium addiction problems are best suited for an inpatient treatment and recovery rehab program.
Outpatient treatment and recovery
In outpatient treatment centers, Valium addicts continue to live at home during the duration of their treatment, but will visit counseling sessions and drug therapy sessions multiple times per week. Outpatient recovery can be done in both individual and group settings.
Inpatient treatment and recovery
Inpatient treatment centers for Valium addiction are fully focused on recovery around the clock. Patients stay at the rehab facility and undergo multiple activities per day that are centered around treatment and recovery. Typically inpatient treatment programs last about a month – though some individuals may need to attend longer based on the severity of the Valium addiction. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) approaches are often used in inpatient settings to re-focus one’s thoughts and behaviors and to learn coping mechanisms to deal with the stressors that might lead to abusing Valium.
In addition to both outpatient and inpatient treatment and recovery programs, some Valium addicts also participate in 12-step programs to interact with and receive support from individuals undergoing the same type of addiction problems.
Finding a Valium Treatment Center
How do you find a Valium treatment center that best suits your needs? The best thing to do is “shop around” for the best rehab facility. If going into an inpatient program, your options are greater as they are open to multiple states (because you’ll be living on the rehab center grounds). If undergoing outpatient treatment and recovery, you’ll likely need to find a treatment center near to where you live since you’ll continue living at home during the duration of treatment.
Relapses may occur, but they are not indicative of failure. Rather, they are indicative that the treatment program might need to be altered a bit to meet the needs of the attendant.
What about the cost? It’s no secret that treatment facilities for drug addiction can be costly. But, many facilities will provide you with free consultations and many accept insurance. When considering the cost of addiction, the cost of a 30-day treatment program is negligible to the cost of a lifelong Valium addiction.