The Definition of Abuse
By definition, you abuse Valium when you:
- Combine Valium with other drugs or alcohol to alter or enhance its effects.
- Obtain Valium through illegal channels (e.g. the internet, doctor shopping, off the street, or by diversion).
- Take a higher dose than prescribed.
- Take it more frequently than prescribed.
- Take it recreationally to get high.
- Take it without a medical reason.
In this article, we review the most common signs of Valium abuse and its side effects. Then, we share strategies to help you treat and address Valium abuse in yourself or a loved one. At the end, we invite your comments and questions in the designated comments section.
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Medical Use vs. Valium Abuse
As a benzodiazepine, Valium is widely used in medicine. Considered as a hypnotic, anti-anxiety, and anti-epileptic medication, it is used as a sedative for a variety of medical conditions including alcohol withdrawal, neurological diseases, panic attacks, and many more.
Q: Can someone with a medical prescription abuse Valium?
In fact, many believe that just because they are taking Valium as a part of treatment for a medical condition, they cannot abuse it. This, of course, cannot be further from the truth. Sometimes, people abuse the drug unintentionally due to a build up in tolerance, which means their body requires more Valium to feel the wanted effects. However, other times patients engage in serious illegal activities such as requesting prescriptions from multiple doctors (a.k.a. doctor shopping), forging prescriptions, or pretending to have lost their medication just to obtain more Valium.
NOTE: Any Valium use out of reasons, or in ways and doses other than those recommended by a medical doctor is illegal as well as considered to be abusive.
How is Valium Abused?
Available as a tablet, Valium is created only to be swallowed and digested in the gastro-intestinal tract. Then, it enters the bloodstream, and crosses the blood-brain barrier to enhance the effects of the GABA neurotransmitter. Taken this way, the drug is delivered effectively and properly.
But, Valium is a popular drug of abuse since it can trigger euphoric effects. Some of the ways people abuse it include:
- Chewing Valium
- Crushing and smoking
- Crushing and snorting
- Dissolving in liquid and injecting
- Taking more pills at once
Depending on the way you administer the drug, you are releasing different concentrated amounts of diazepam (Valium’s active ingrdient) into the central nervous system (CNS), which puts your health at different levels of risk.
Why Do People Abuse Valium?
Valium is a drug that directly changes the way the brain works – it can make you feel euphoric and high. Prolonged abuse stimulates the reward center of the brain, resulting in Valium dependence and possibly even a drug use dissorder.
But why are some people are able to remain on therapeutic doses of Valium without abusing it, while others turn to abuse more easily? The answer is not easy: There is a delicate interplay of individual factors that contribute to whether a person starts abusing their medication or not.
The most commonly cited factors for Valium abuse include:
Individuals who have a family history of substance abuse disorders (SUD), especially within the closest family circle (parents or close relatives) have a 50% higher risk of abusing prescription medications such as Valium, or other illicit and prescription drugs or alcohol.
FACTOR #2: TRAUMA.
Those who experience a traumatic event at a young age, such as psychological trauma, any form of abuse, loss of a loved one, or live in a high stress environment, and/or in a dysfunctional family have a higher risk of abusing psychoactive substances.
FACTOR #3: MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES.
Suffering from psychological diseases, especially mood disorders such as chronic anxiety and depression can be a contributing factor in developing a substance abuse problem.
FACTOR#4: INDIVIDUAL BIOLOGICAL MAKEUP.
Some people experience stronger reward sensations when they take psychoactive substances. If you are one of those people whose brain is super sensitive to the way Valium makes you feel, you have a higher likelihood to continue taking the drug in an abusive manner.
Signs and Symptoms
It can be difficult to know when a loved one is abusing Valium, but if you monitor them closely, you will likely be able to spot some of the tell-tale sighs that might indicate that something is wrong.
Behavioral signs of abuse:
- A change in appearance
- A change in eating habits
- Excessive sleepiness
- Frequent drowsiness
- Poor personal hygiene
- Slow movements
- Slurred speech
Physical signs of abuse:
- Blurred vision
- Difficulty urinating
- Low blood pressure
Psychological signs of abuse:
- Sleeping problems
Risks and Side Effects
Someone who abuses high doses of the drug or combines it with other substances is at risk of experiencing adverse side effects. Below is a list of the most common Valium abuse side effects:
- Alteration in moods
- Memory loss
Other, more dangerous side effects may include:
Valium OD: When to Call 911?
Although not the likeliest of overdoses when you abuse only Valium on it’s own, an overdose may still occur. A person is at a greater risk of OD-ing on Valium if they mix it with other CNS depressants because of the combined negative impact on breathing and heart rate.
Someone who has OD-d on Valium might display the following symptoms:
- Blurred vision
- Double vision
- Heavy breathing
- Rapid movement of the eyes
- Uncoordinated movements
- Upset stomach
If you or someone close to you experience an exposure to toxic amounts of Valium, you should CALL 911 or your local emergency number. If you live in the United States, you can also call the National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 to speak with a poison expert and get clear guidance on what you should do next.
Help! How can it be treated?
Once you decide to break free from Valium abuse, the next step is to seek help! Once you take the first step and seek help for your Valium abuse problem, then it’s time to work on recovery. What does the process of Valium abuse treatment entail? Here, we outline what you can expect.
1. Evaluation. First, doctors need to get more familiar with your individual case. The process includes an interview, general physical and mental health state exams, and drug testing. All these assessments serve to help your doctor to establish a diagnosis, define the severity of your addiction, and design a personalized Valium addiction treatment plan fit for your needs.
2. Detoxification. The next step is to get Valium eliminated from your body. If you’ve developed physical dependence to the medication and attempt to detox on your own, you can expect that Valium withdrawal can be harsh and severe. Physicians can initiate a tapering strategy for Valium, offer motivation and mental support, and prescribe medications for only short-term use. Medications that can aid Valium detox may include:
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors SSRI’s
- Anticonvulsant medications
- Baclofen (Kemstro, Gablofen, and Lioresal)
3. Therapy & Counselling. Valium abuse is best treated when medications are combined with therapy and counselling. This allows you to take a deeper look into the psycho-emotional reasons for your drug use, and find positive ways to resolve the root causes for this behavior. Therapies that may be included in your treatment plan, include:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
- Dual Diagnosis Treatment (DDT)
- Educational Sessions
- Family Therapy and/or Couples Therapy
- Motivational Interviewing (MI)
Got More Questions?
To conclude, Valium could be dangerous drug. It can trigger problems in your health…and also can trigger social, work, or relationship issues. Still, this is only a general view on Valium abuse.
For more, please contact us in the comment section at the bottom or give us a call. All your questions and comments are welcomed and appreciated. We are eager to help you!