Valium (Diazepam) addiction

A 2017 Public Health England report found that 1.4 million people had been prescribed benzodiazepines, including Valium, in that one year. However, despite its prevalence, Valium is an addictive drug with an exceptionally high risk of dependence.

If you think you or a loved one may be living with Valium addiction, it’s important to seek help as soon as possible. At Linwood House, we’re here to make you feel safe and cared for while teaching you the skills to overcome addiction and maintain sobriety.

Valium addiction - Diazepam pill

What Is Valium?

Valium belongs to a class of drugs known as benzodiazepines (benzos), a type of central nervous system depressant that works by slowing down the brain.

Valium is available by prescription on the NHS and with private practitioners in the UK; however, it is illegal to possess Valium without a prescription.

Understanding Valium addiction

Valium misuse is always dangerous, but things can become especially difficult if you develop an addiction.

Valium addiction is when you compulsively seek and use Valium, despite the negative consequences. These urges (also known as cravings) characterise drug addiction. People living with Valium addiction have long-lasting physical changes in their brains, making it very difficult to stop using the substance without effective support.

Valium addiction is rarely just about the drug itself. People usually turn to drug abuse to cope with or compensate for other mental health concerns, distressing, traumatic experiences, or a lack of care early on in life.

What are the long-term effects of Valium abuse?

Valium is a powerful drug with pervasive effects throughout your central nervous system. If you continue to misuse Valium, you put yourself at risk of long-term health damage.

Evidence suggests that prolonged use of Valium, especially at higher doses, can cause long-term memory loss. This is more likely if you misuse Valium; however, it can occur even amongst individuals with a prescription.

Some other long-term health effects of Valium misuse may include:

  • Problems concentrating
  • Feeling dull and slow
  • Feeling isolated from reality
  • Emotional numbness
  • Irritability and impatience
  • Weight problems

Valium addiction - weight problem

Repeatedly using Valium can also put you at risk of developing Valium dependence and addiction. While both conditions are serious health issues requiring professional treatment, you can recover from both with the proper support. Another risk of Valium addiction is overdose. Valium overdose is a medical emergency that can result in death, so you should seek immediate medical treatment if you think someone may have overdosed on Valium.

How to recognise Valium addiction in yourself or a loved one

It’s not always obvious when Valium misuse has turned into an addiction. Any misuse of Valium is dangerous, and if you’re asking yourself the question, you should seek professional support.

Some signs of addiction include:

  • Spending a lot of time thinking about Valium
  • Valium becoming the priority in your life
  • Neglecting home and work responsibilities due to Valium use
  • Losing interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop using Valium
  • Continuing to use Valium despite negative consequences for your mental or physical health

Recognising Valium addiction in someone else comes with its own set of difficulties. Sometimes, individuals go to great lengths to hide their addiction. Some additional signs to look out for in a loved one include:

  • Unexplained outings
  • Lying and secrecy
  • Financial difficulties
  • Physical health problems and neglect of self-care

If you notice any of these signs in a loved one, having an open and honest conversation about their substance use could be beneficial. Clearly explain your concerns, their behaviour’s effects on you, and that you’re there to support them. You could talk about addiction treatment options and how you can help them to access professional support.

How does Valium addiction develop?

Even though it is a prescription drug, it is possible to become addicted to benzos, even when following a prescription exactly.

Research suggests that you can become addicted to benzos in as little as three weeks. Based on this evidence, most scientists recommend that prescriptions are limited to one to two weeks. However, in practice, many doctors still prescribe benzos like Valium for much longer. Studies estimate that 300,000 people may have long-term prescriptions for benzodiazepines and Z-drugs.

Valium withdrawal and detox

Valium addiction - person experiencing withdrawal symptoms

If you’ve developed a dependence on Valium, you will usually experience a series of withdrawal symptoms if you suddenly stop taking the substance.

Benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms can be uncomfortable and, in severe cases, dangerous. A minority of people experience seizures and psychosis that can be life-threatening without professional medical treatment. For this reason, you should never try to detox alone.

The good news is that professional detox programmes can support you in withdrawing from Valium addiction as safely and comfortably as possible. You should never see withdrawal as a barrier to addiction recovery. With the proper support, it can be easier than you may think.

Lasting recovery with Linwood House

Knowing how to move forward can be challenging if you or someone you know may be living with addiction. At Linwood House, we’re here to make the process as easy as possible.

Our exceptional yet affordable facilities provide top-tier clinical care and exceptional support to individuals from all walks of life. We focus on empowering you to overcome addiction, addressing underlying issues and teaching you the skills you need to achieve lasting change.

Frequently asked questions

Is Valium the same as Diazepam?
Valium is a brand name for diazepam, a prescription drug doctors usually use to treat anxiety, muscle pain, seizures, or fits. Diazepam is not currently sold under the brand name Valium in the UK.
What makes Valium so addictive?
When you take Valium, it alters the availability of dopamine in your brain, interacting with the reward system and making you want to take the drug again. With time, these changes can be very pronounced – much more so than with normal activities – and cause you to experience powerful urges to use Valium.
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