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  • Is Valium Addictive? | Abuse Potential & Warning Signs Of Addiction

    Is Valium Addictive? | Abuse Potential & Warning Signs Of Addiction

    Valium (the brand name for diazepam) is a long-acting benzodiazepine (or benzo) and central nervous system depressant. It is commonly used to treat anxiety and insomnia by calming overactivity in the brain. 

    Valium is classified as a Schedule IV drug by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and it can be addictive. There is some potential for abuse as well as an increased risk for the body to build tolerance when the drug is used for a long time or not as directed. 

    What Is Valium Used For?

    Besides anxiety disorders and insomnia, Valium is also used to treat:

    • muscle spasms
    • panic disorder and panic attacks
    • seizures
    • alcohol withdrawal

    The drug works by lowering hyperactive brain function in the central nervous system. It does this by producing more of the GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) neurotransmitter that helps relieve stress and anxiety. 

    Side Effects Of Valium

    Valium comes with a plethora of different side effects you want to be aware of when taking it. Some of the most common include:

    • sedation
    • fatigue
    • confusion
    • depression
    • drowsiness
    • dizziness
    • irritability
    • headache
    • muscle weakness

    Some of the more serious side effects of diazepam include:

    • respiratory depression
    • seizures
    • suicidality
    • dependency and abuse
    • loss of control of motor skills
    • shaking of the body
    • slurred speech
    • slowed breathing and heartbeat
    • low blood pressure

    Overdose Symptoms

    Beyond the adverse side effects, if you take a larger dose of diazepam or take it with other depressants like opioids or alcohol, the signs of overdose can be very severe. The signs include:

    • drowsiness
    • confusion
    • very slow breathing and heartbeat
    • loss of consciousness
    • coma

    Warning Signs Of Valium Addiction

    There is a potential for abuse when taking Valium as well as an increased risk of building up dependence and tolerance in the body. 

    This is most common in people who are prone to addiction, those taking Valium as part of a long-term treatment plan, and anyone using high doses of the drug.

    Because tolerance and dependence can develop, people taking it for any reason should be monitored closely by a treatment provider so addiction doesn’t form or is caught early.

    When looking for signs of addiction or abuse in yourself or a loved one, here are a few things to check for:

    • memory problems
    • slow reflexes
    • dilated pupils
    • craving for more valium and going to extreme lengths to secure more
    • slurred speech
    • difficulty concentrating
    • isolation from family and friends
    • continued use despite problems caused by drug use
    • loss of interest in once enjoyable activities
    • ignoring obligations

    Valium Withdrawal Symptoms

    Once dependence forms, you may experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms when you discontinue use. Withdrawal symptoms range from headaches to seizures to hallucinations

    When you stop taking Valium to detox, the body reacts with withdrawal symptoms because it’s adapted to the drug doing the work for it. To stop the withdrawal symptoms, you might take more of the drug and the cycle of dependence and drug addiction continues.

    To receive help for Valium abuse or addiction, there are both inpatient and outpatient addiction treatment options available. Learn more about our treatment centers by contacting us today.

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2024 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.

    ACS Chemical Neuroscience - Classics in Chemical Neuroscience: Diazepam (Valium)
    National Center for Biotechnology Information - Diazepam
    National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus - Diazepam
    U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) - Valium Label

    Medically Reviewed by
    Kimberly Langdon M.D.
    on July 19, 2022
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