What Is Diazepam (Valium)?
Valium is most often prescribed to relieve anxiety, muscle spasms, and seizures. It is also used to ease uncomfortable symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. Valium works by diminishing hyperactive brain function to relieve severe stress and anxiety. It is ingested orally in pill form and usually taken 1-4 times per day when prescribed by a doctor. Valium is a long-acting Benzodiazepine.
This means it stays in the body much longer than shorter-acting Benzos like Halcion. Because of Valium’s long-lasting nature, people can take fewer doses per day than they would with shorter-acting Benzos. Valium for anxiety is meant to be taken regularly to be effective. But when someone starts taking Valium more than prescribed, or without a prescription, they increase their risk of becoming addicted.
Understanding Diazepam (Valium) Addiction
Valium is an addictive Benzodiazepine with longer-lasting effects than other drugs in its class. Diazepam (Valium) addiction can progress quickly if the drug is used in a way not directed by a doctor. Over time, it is harder for a Valium abuser’s brain to function normally without the drug. Yet some people addicted to Valium may not even realize they have a problem.
Taking Valium for longer than 4-6 weeks, even with a prescription from a doctor, increases the likelihood of becoming addicted. One of the telltale symptoms of a Diazepam (Valium) addiction is needing larger doses to feel the drug’s effects. Other signs of Diazepam (Valium) addiction include:
- Strong cravings for the drug
- Isolation from family and friends
- Continued use despite problems caused by the drug
- Loss of interest in once enjoyable activities
- Ignoring obligations
Once a user has a tolerance to Valium’s effects, they could also have withdrawal symptoms if they stop taking it. Valium withdrawal can be dangerous and uncomfortable, which makes it hard for addicted people to quit on their own. The symptoms of withdrawal are intense, and many people addicted to Valium need the drug to feel normal.
Why is Valium for Anxiety Used?
Valium has been administered to people with panic disorder, an anxiety disorder that occurs when people have debilitating panic attacks. Valium and other medications in the benzodiazepines class can help reduce the intensity of panic attacks, nervousness, and anxiety.
In general, benzodiazepines bind with the body’s gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors and increase the body’s natural GABA levels to help users relax. Keeping GABA levels higher can help a person avoid having a panic attack or other distressing events. Valium is just one of several anti-anxiety medications used for the short-term treatment of anxiety disorders. Others include Klonopin (clonazepam), Ativan (lorazepam), and Xanax (alprazolam).
As the American Psychiatric Association (APA) highlights, anxiety is a stress response that alerts us to things that need our attention or helps us protect ourselves from danger. However, when a person’s stress response is not in proportion to the situation they face, or if their stress response makes it difficult to move forward, they likely could be dealing with an anxiety disorder that requires medical treatment. Medications like Valium can help with this problem.
Long-Term Valium for Anxiety Use is Not Recommended
Valium is a benzodiazepine, which is usually prescribed for the short-term treatment of anxiety. Benzodiazepines are potent medications with high addiction potential, which is why medical professionals discourage long-term use. They are habit-forming, even for people who use them as prescribed, and abusing them can lead to a long-term, difficult-to-break addiction. Using Valium for anxiety for prolonged periods can make people think they cannot function normally without it.
Also, if users crush up the pills to snort them or inject them to get high, or if they use Valium with other drugs and alcohol, this is a path to addiction. Such abuse is also dangerous to one’s life. If you or someone you know practices these habits, get professional substance abuse and addiction treatment right away.
Long-term use also increases a person’s tolerance of the drug, so if they do not feel immediate relief with their usual dosage, they may take more, which can lead to a life-threatening overdose, especially as Valium takes a long time to clear a person’s system.
Valium for Anxiety Overdose
A person who is having a Valium for anxiety overdose may have the following symptoms:
- Heavy or labored breathing
- Clammy or cold skin
- Nausea, vomiting, upset stomach
- Coordination and balance problems
- Mental confusion
- Muscle weakness
- Blurred vision
- Weak, slow pulse
- Bluish color to the lips, nails, skin
- Loss of consciousness
An overdose is a serious medical emergency that can lead to death. If you notice any of the symptoms above, get medical help right away by calling 911 or taking the affected person to a hospital.
Valium for Anxiety Treatment Side Effects
While Valium helps users manage their anxiety disorder, it has side effects they should be aware of and discuss with their doctor. Valium for anxiety can cause:
- Weak muscles
- Blurred vision
You should stay away from anything that induces sleepiness if you are using Valium for anxiety. This side effect can make it difficult to complete daily tasks. Sometimes, users may want to pair the drug with others, possibly not considering the effects that can result.
Do not use Valium for anxiety with other benzodiazepines as doing so can compound the effects of these powerful medications and depress one’s breathing and heart rate. Valium for anxiety also should not be used with alcohol or other drugs. Taking the drug longer than recommended or using it in a way that is inconsistent with its purpose can lead to addiction.
Rebound Anxiety is Possible
A person taking Valium for anxiety long-term can encounter problems if they end their use. One of them is rebound anxiety, which is worse than the anxiety that led to Valium treatment in the first place. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s information sheet on the drug, rebound anxiety can bring in enhanced mood changes and restlessness.
If you want to end your Valium for anxiety use for any reason after longtime use, you should do so gradually under the care of a medical professional who understands and can perform a gradual tapering process so the effects of coming off Valium won’t be so intense or uncomfortable. Rebound symptoms can be difficult to deal with on one’s own. If you are experiencing rebound anxiety, reach out to a medical professional who can help you find a long-term solution for you.
Other Ways to Treat Anxiety Long-Term
Managing anxiety symptoms long-term can be challenging for those who have them. Each person must find their way to make them manageable. According to the APA, anxiety disorders that affect nearly 30% of adults at some point in their lives are treatable with various methods.
Psychotherapy is one option that can help people manage their stress response. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for anxiety is a widely used psychotherapy that aims to help people identify and correct irrational or distorted thoughts that often lead to negative behaviors. The idea is to increase one’s awareness of their thoughts and emotions so they can improve them and, therefore, their behavior.
For people with anxiety disorders, these thoughts and behaviors include:
- Restlessness or feeling on edge
- Trouble concentrating
- Excessive worrying
- Insomnia or other sleep issues
There also are non-addictive medications that can help people manage their anxiety disorder, such as antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications such as buspirone, which help people manage the symptoms of a generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Another way to manage long-term anxiety is to create a lifestyle filled with habits that support optimal health and awareness.
Make exercise and staying physically active a priority. Adopt a routine that gets you moving outdoors or indoors. Cardio workouts and strength training exercises can help you improve your physical, mental, and emotional health.
Make sure to get sufficient sleep. Seven to nine hours of sleep is recommended for adults, which reminds us that sleep helps us regulate our emotions. Getting rest can help you feel prepared to take on the challenges of the day. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, recreational drug use, and smoking. All can raise your anxiety, and if used in high amounts, they can be harmful to the body and mind.
Adopt healthy eating habits. Nutritious meals and snacks can give your body the nutrients and vitamins it needs for sound health. This means aiming to eat as many fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats, if possible. Also, do not forget to drink water. Doing so regularly helps us avoid dehydration.
Spend time reflecting and finding solitude. Spending time in quiet meditation can help people manage their stress better and lead to lower anxiety levels. Yoga, journaling, art journaling, and other activities that promote mindfulness and a look within can help you check in with yourself and manage your anxiety.
If you need more options to manage anxiety symptoms long-term, you can see a medical or mental health professional who can advise you on treatments that can address your needs and concerns. Valium and other potent drugs are only for short-term use. Any use that extends beyond a short-term window needs to be evaluated by the proper medical or mental health professional overseeing their patient’s care.
Reclaim Your Life From Valium for Anxiety
Valium for anxiety is meant to be taken regularly to be effective. But when someone starts taking Valium more than prescribed, or without a prescription, they increase their risk of becoming addicted. We Level Up California can provide to you, or someone you love, the tools to recover from this condition with a professional and safe detox process. Feel free to call us to speak with one of our counselors. We can inform you about this condition by giving you relevant information. Our specialists know what you are going through. Please know that each call is private and confidential.