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Valium was the world’s most popular anxiety medication for decades. Doctors still prescribe it regularly to treat anxiety disorders and other medical conditions. Valium’s addictive nature contributed to its decline in popularity, and rates of abuse grew in recent decades. Valium withdrawal can be dangerous, so experts recommend proven treatment methods for patients battling addiction.

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    The Dangers of Illegal Valium Use

    Valium’s sedative side effects make it highly addictive and desirable for people looking to get high. Valium addiction has been prevalent in the U.S. for more than 50 years, and people who misuse Valium often combine it with other substances like alcohol. Abusing Valium can lead to serious side effects like slowed breathing and memory loss. It can also lead to addiction and other severe consequences.

    The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration categorizes Valium as a Schedule IV controlled substance, meaning it has a high potential for addiction but less potential than extremely addictive drugs like opioids.

    People should not quit taking the drug abruptly, because withdrawal symptoms can be serious. Medical treatment is necessary to help rehabilitate patients who are addicted to the drug.

    Valium Side Effects

    Side effects become more serious when patients misuse Valium, such as taking it in higher doses than prescribed, taking it more often than prescribed or taking it without a prescription. Combining Valium with other substances can cause more severe side effects.

    Like other benzodiazepines, Valium alters the way the brain works. Over time, the brain needs more Valium to feel the same effects. The brain’s ability to build a tolerance to the drug is why doctors prescribe Valium in increasing doses over time. It’s also why Valium is recommended for short-term use. Long-term use can cause changes in how the brain works and increase the chances for addiction.

    Common side effects from therapeutic use of Valium include:

    • Drowsiness
    • Dry mouth
    • Dizziness
    • Nausea
    • Appetite Changes
    Side Effects of Abusing Valium
    Slow reflexes Drastic changes in mood Erratic behavior
    Slowed breathing Memory loss Death
    Side Effects of Abusing Valium
    Slow reflexes
    Drastic changes in mood
    Erratic behavior
    Slowed breathing
    Memory loss

    Long-term Side Effects

    When patients develop a high tolerance to Valium, they also run the risk of developing a dependency on the drug. Dependency can be behavioral or physical. They can get used to feeling Valium’s sedative effects at certain times of day, or their brain can physically change and crave Valium.

    There are no controlled clinical trials examining the use of Valium for longer than four months. However, many people suffer serious consequences when they misuse Valium for long periods of time, which can drastically change their life.

    Valium’s long-term side effects make it difficult to function in everyday life. It can be difficult to keep a job, to maintain relationships with friends and family or to pay for housing.

    Long-term use of Valium can cause:

    • Memory problems
    • Hallucinations
    • Slowed pulse
    • Coma
    • Heart attack
    • Impaired thinking

    Valium Addiction

    Valium addiction is a brain disease in which the drug causes physical changes that make the brain need or crave Valium. Studies show benzodiazepines like Valium change the way the pleasure areas of the brain act. People who are prescribed Valium should be cautious when taking it, and should only take it as their doctor prescribes.

    An estimated 943,000 Americans visited emergency rooms between 2005 and 2011 after abusing benzodiazepines like Valium. People ages 12-34 made up the largest age group, and studies show adolescents and college-aged students are abusing benzodiazepines at alarming rates. The number of teens abusing depressants increased 450 percent from 1993 to 2005.

    Many people who misuse Valium mix it with other substances like alcohol or cold medicines. The mixture intensifies the sedative effects, but it also intensifies withdrawal symptoms and risk for overdose. Valium withdrawal symptoms are serious and can require medical attention.

    Withdrawal Symptoms

    When the brain craves Valium, it reacts negatively to the absence of it. Valium withdrawal can be dangerous when someone used to taking it in high doses or high frequencies stops suddenly.

    Withdrawal from Valium and other benzodiazepines can be so severe that experts urge people using the drugs to seek medical treatment to assist in recovery.

    Symptoms of Valium withdrawal include:






    Treatment for Valium Addiction

    People with benzodiazepine abuse disorders often abuse other controlled substances or suffer from mental health problems too. Health care professionals create treatment plans to treat Valium withdrawal symptoms, treat other existing medical conditions and rehabilitate patients.

    There are no available drugs that counteract cravings for Valium, so rehabilitation centers help make detoxification as comfortable as possible by treating symptoms of withdrawal.

    Rehabilitation focuses on behavioral therapy that helps patients return to life without Valium and handle relapse if it occurs. Group therapy and counseling can effectively help patients transition back to normal life.

    Recovering from Valium addiction isn’t easy, and it takes time. Many patients experience the worst withdrawal symptoms during the first few days of detoxification, but it can take weeks or months to completely recover. Each treatment plan is based on the individual and their needs.

    Valium’s History

    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Valium in 1963 for the short-term relief of symptoms of anxiety. Pharmaceutical manufacturer Hoffman-La Roche promoted the drug through a massive marketing campaign that helped it become the first drug to reach more than $1 billion in sales. During the height of its success, in 1978, Americans consumed as many as 2 billion Valium pills.

    But medical researchers started warning of Valium’s addictive properties in 1964, and so many Americans were abusing the drug that the Rolling Stones wrote a song called “Mother’s Little Helper” in 1966. In 1975, Vogue ran a story warning women of Valium’s high rate of addiction, and the DEA classified Valium as a Schedule IV controlled substance.

    The DEA classification, coupled with evidence of Valium in Elvis Presley’s 1977 autopsy report and Betty Ford’s 1978 acknowledgment of alcohol and Valium addiction, contributed to increased public knowledge of the drug’s addictive nature. Valium prescriptions decreased by about 50 percent from 1975 to 1980.

    Valium, Xanax, and Rehabilitation

    Valium’s first major competitor, Xanax, took over the market share shortly after gaining approval in 1981, and Valium’s popularity continued to drop. Today, doctors prescribe an estimated 14 million Valium or generic diazepam prescriptions annually compared with 50 million Xanax or generic alprazolam prescriptions.

    The drug is still considered highly addictive, and scores of Americans suffer from Valium abuse disorders. Professional rehabilitation is the safest way to recover, and proven treatment plans help patients live without the drug.

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