Valium Abuse, Addiction, and Treatment

Valium addiction treatment. Valium is a widely known medication used for anxiety, alcoholism, and seizure disorders. Since it is a controlled substance, it also poses a risk of addiction for the user. What is Valium and what are effective ways to stop Valium addiction? Read to know more.

If you’ve suffered from conditions such as anxiety or seizures or are seeking treatment for alcohol withdrawal, chances are you’ve heard of a drug called Valium. Valium, with the generic name diazepam, is used to treat bodily tension caused by an overactive brain and nerves. Used as an over-the-counter drug and a sedative for surgeries, Valium mainly works to calm the brain and relax the muscles.

Can Valium Cause an Addiction?

Valium may cause an addiction because of its fast-acting nature. Upon intake, its effects can be felt within 10-15 minutes. People who suffer from muscle tension, anxiety, seizures, or insomnia may immediately experience relief upon ingesting Valium. This is why those who take Valium may form a habit of taking it frequently.

At present, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has a black box warning for benzodiazepine drugs such as Valium. There is a serious risk for life-threatening complications when this drug is misused. Long-term use of this drug can also lead to Valium addiction.

What Are the Symptoms of Valium Addiction?

If you have been taking this drug, you may want to find out if you are suffering from Valium addiction. Below are signs of addiction to Valium:

Taking more than the prescribed dosage

One of the most glaring Valium addiction symptoms is the tendency to use more than the prescribed dosage. Perhaps you may use the drug more frequently as prescribed by the doctor, or you are taking larger amounts at given times of the day. You may be doing this to achieve the same calming effects of Valium that you once experienced–this is a sign of drug tolerance.

In other instances, it seems that you cannot function without taking Valium more than your prescribed amount. You may need it in order to feel better, think properly, work, or perform other daily activities. This may be a sign of dependence on Valium.

Speech difficulties

Another sign of addiction to Valium is slurred or uncoordinated speech. Known as a muscle relaxant, Valium affects the small muscles used for speech such as muscles in the lips, tongue, and jaw area.

You may find it challenging to pronounce longer words, or it may feel difficult to stiffen your oral muscles to make certain sounds. These are signs that you may be taking dosages that are more than prescribed, which can affect even the smallest muscles in your body.

If you don’t notice your own speech difficulties, it can help to ask a friend or a family member to rate your speech quality. This could give you an objective way to know if you have slurred speech due to Valium abuse.

Challenges in muscle coordination

When Valium enters the body, it binds with certain receptors that strengthen the relaxing effects of GABA, a brain neurotransmitter that blocks brain signals and depresses the nervous system. This can lead to muscles which are loose and slow-acting and challenges in muscle coordination. You may notice differences or difficulties in fine or gross motor tasks, such as:

  • Feeding (holding utensils, chewing food, or drinking)
  • Grasping objects (holding a toothbrush, using the index finger and thumb to pick up smaller items)
  • Walking or running
  • Typing
  • Other physical activities that require coordinated muscle movements (sports, household chores, hobbies)

If you take Valium and suffer from these muscle coordination problems, it is possible that you may be addicted to this prescribed drug.

Changes in food intake

Drug addiction in general causes changes in appetite. People who have drug dependencies often lose interest in food, but this can vary depending on the person. If you notice drastic changes in your appetite, such as eating more or less than your usual food intake prior to your Valium use, it could be a potential sign of dependency or addiction.

Mood changes

There may be changes in mood when people take Valium. If you’re taking Valium for anxiety, you may find yourself in a more relaxed state when taking the drug. A sign of drug addiction is when people experience extreme mood changes when they are not using the drug. You may experience the following mood changes when trying to lessen or cut your dosage:

  • Sudden irritability
  • Extreme sadness or depression
  • Agitation
  • Anger or rage
  • Excitement or distraction
  • In extreme cases, delusions or hallucinations

Some of these signs, such as mood changes, are also considered Valium addiction withdrawal symptoms. To better understand other withdrawal effects of Valium, there are other things you need to watch out for.

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What Are the Side Effects of Valium Addiction?

Valium has potentially harmful and even life-threatening side effects when misused for long periods of time. If you notice signs of Valium addiction in yourself or a loved one, it can be helpful to know the potential side effects that can come with prolonged abuse of this drug.

Memory loss

As Valium decreases neural activity, prolonged use can lead to short-term or long-term memory loss. People who suffer from Valium addiction may have difficulties recalling past events or remembering recent details that have occurred.

Muscle spasms

Addiction to this drug may create increased drug tolerance, which means that the body eventually needs higher doses of Valium in order to relieve the problems it is meant to treat. As a result, you may experience muscle spasms or tremors when you attempt to cut down or stop your previous dosage of Valium.


Seizures can also occur as a result of Valium withdrawal. They are more common for people taking Valium for seizure disorder. Such seizures can be life-threatening if they last for 5 minutes or more. Other known side effects of Valium addiction include:

  • Insomnia
  • Blood in the urine or stool
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Overdose

When people take Valium in large amounts or mix it with other substances, the body may enter an abnormally relaxed state. This relaxed state may limit the activity of vital organs and eventually shut them down, causing a drug overdose. Like seizures, drug overdoses are also potentially fatal and require immediate medical attention.

How Long Does It Take to Develop a Valium Addiction?

The truth is, there is no specific time frame to developing an addiction to Valium. Since it is a fast-acting drug, there is a possibility that you may develop a tolerance or dependence on it much sooner than you may expect.

People react to various drugs differently, and the dangers of using Valium more than prescribed often lead to Valium addiction. Some people quickly develop a habit just days after taking the drug. For others, it takes years until they notice that they have slowly formed a habit of using Valium more than the prescribed amount. There are some factors that can affect how long it takes for you to develop an addiction. Some of these are:


Some people may be more susceptible to drug addiction. This may occur in people with other mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, or personality disorders.

Environmental factors

A high-stress environment or external influences also affect a person’s drug use. People may be more likely to take drugs when their environments encourage them to do so.


More males suffer from addiction problems, but women are more likely to develop such problems quickly.

Type of drug

Drugs can also be classified according to their addictive properties. Valium may be less addictive than opioids such as heroin, but it can still cause problems when misused for long periods of time.

How to Treat Valium Addiction

If you or a loved one is experiencing signs of Valium addiction, there are ways to treat this problem. Self-medication may seem like an easy way out, but your efforts to treat an addiction may end up being less effective. In worst-case scenarios, self-medicating may backfire and cause more problems. Valium addiction may be treated effectively with the following steps.

Drug detox

Drug detox is the process of eliminating Valium and its addictive effects from the body. A person who has been dependent on Valium may experience withdrawal symptoms when the drug is removed from his or her system.

Thus, undergoing a medical drug detox program may be necessary to lessen discomfort and prevent the dangerous effects of drug withdrawal. During drug detox sessions, medical staff members monitor people 24/7 to ease the complications of drug withdrawal.


After undergoing drug detox sessions, people with Valium addictions can proceed with their treatment. This includes a variety of programs suited to their individual needs and preferences. Some well-known treatment programs for Valium addiction include the following:

  • 12-step treatment
  • Faith-based treatment
  • Holistic treatment
  • Non 12-step treatment
  • Dual diagnosis treatment (for addressing other mental health problems in addition to addiction)

The type of treatment program depends on the advice of health care professionals as well as the preferences of their clients. If you are wondering how to stop a Valium addiction, inpatient rehabilitation can be one of your best tools for total recovery. Sunshine Behavioral Health addiction centers have 30-, 60-, and 90-day rehabilitation programs that utilize different kinds of treatment protocols.


Following an intensive treatment program as an inpatient, you will work with your treatment team to create an aftercare program to help improve the chances of total addiction recovery. Many people may wonder how to prevent Valium addiction. It is essential to know that people who undergo treatment experience the highest rates of relapse in the first 90 days.

Thus, making sure that you have a plan that follows your intensive treatment reduces the risk of returning to your addiction. Some aftercare programs available at Sunshine Behavioral Health centers are:

  • One-on-one counseling
  • Psychotherapies (cognitive behavioral therapy, psychodynamic therapy, family therapy, group therapy)
  • Support groups
  • Physical activity and nutritional plans
  • Life skills assistance

These aftercare programs are designed to help prevent addiction problems. Often, addiction starts as a coping mechanism for other mental health issues or physical ailments. Dealing with these triggers can help improve the success of recovery.

How Long Does It Take to Recover from Valium Addiction?

There are many factors that affect one’s time line of recovery from Valium addiction. Some may successfully treat their substance use disorder disorder after finishing a 30-day rehab program. Others may find recovery in a 90-day rehab program.

For some, relapses can occur after intensive treatment. Relapses can lead to more time spent in attempts to recover again after 1-3 months of intensive treatment. Recovery from Valium addiction may be affected by:

  • Severity of the addiction: A person who simply has a Valium tolerance may recover more quickly compared to someone who has a full-blown dependence.
  • External influences: Triggers in the environment such as stress, peer pressure, or reminders of the addiction can increase the chances of relapse.
  • Dual diagnosis: The existence of other mental health problems may also be a trigger for continued drug use. People who have dual diagnoses should seek treatment simultaneously for substance use disorder and other health problems.
  • Motivation to recover: Although many experts consider substance use disorder to be a disease, recovery also depends on a person’s motivation to remove their addiction problems. If they are willing to stick with rehab programs and follow aftercare programs, people have a higher chance of success in recovery.

The effectiveness of Valium addiction treatment is also influenced by the factors mentioned above. Rehabilitation is intended to provide you with a solid foundation while you do your part in the addiction recovery process.

What Is Valium and How Does Valium Specifically Work?

Valium is a drug that helps increase the effects of a brain neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Below is a mechanism of how Valium works:

  • Valium is taken orally or provided intravenously.
  • The drug binds to receptors in the brain and spinal cord.
  • The receptor binding helps increase the effect of the neurotransmitter GABA.
  • GABA, in turn, affects the central nervous system (CNS) by relaxing the brain and the muscles.

Some of the most common effects of Valium in the body are:

  • Decrease of muscle tension
  • Drowsiness
  • Decrease in muscle spasms
  • Lowered brain excitability
  • Decreased physical manifestation of anxiety disorders

Is Valium a Benzodiazepine?

In short, yes. Valium is a brand name for the drug diazepam, and diazepam is a type of drug known as a benzodiazepine (benzo). Along with diazepam, other types of benzodiazepines include:

  • Alprazolam (also known as Xanax)
  • Clobazam (also known as Onfi)
  • Clonazepam (also known as Klonopin)
  • Clorazepate (also known as Tranxene)
  • chlordiazepoxide (also known as Librium)
  • Estazolam (also known as Prosom)
  • Lorazepam (also known as Ativan)

These other benzodiazepine drugs work by affecting the neurotransmitter GABA. They act as sedatives by decreasing the brain’s activity. The drugs differ through their mode of intake, dosage, side effects, and contraindications. Some people with co-occurring conditions may take one specific type of benzodiazepine instead of others to avoid harmful side effects.



Medical disclaimer:

Sunshine Behavioral Health strives to help people who are facing substance abuse, addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that addresses health, treatment, and recovery.

Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals.

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