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Valium (diazepam) addiction – signs, symptoms and treatment

Valium – which is a trade name for diazepam – is an anti-anxiety medication. The benzodiazepine is prescribed to treat anxiety disorders or episodic anxiety, giving a sedative effect after around 30 to 60 minutes. Misusing the drug can lead to a person developing a Valium addiction.

Valium addiction symptoms

If you concerned that you or someone close to you has a  Valium addiction, look out for these common symptoms:

  • Taking increasing doses or taking it more frequently
  • Life centres around using, buying and recovering from Valium
  • Work, family or school life are less important than Valium
  • Less interest in hobbies, social activities or interests
  • Valium is consumed even if it causes or worsens health issues
  • Using Valium leads to risky situations
  • Withdrawal symptoms are experienced if attempting to cut back or stop taking Valium

Physical symptoms of Valium addiction can include:

  • Delirium
  • Dizziness
  • Nervousness
  • Paranoia
  • Aggression
  • Abnormal breathing pattern
  • Falling down
  • Memory loss
  • Unable to focus

Behavioural signs of Valium addiction may include the following:

  • Getting involved in illegal activity
  • Stealing money or objects
  • Being increasingly secretive
  • Becoming confrontational when questions about drug use are asked
  • Withdrawing from their loved ones

When a person has a Valium addiction, and a psychological preoccupation with the drug, their body and mind will react if they try to stop or cut down. The Valium withdrawal symptoms they experience will depend on the frequency and amount of the drug that is taken. They can include the following:

  • Mild symptoms include anxiousness, confusion, irritability, shakes, agitation, sweating, headaches, muscle pain and cramps
  • Severe symptoms include increased sensitivity to light and sound, tingling or numbness in the limbs, hallucinations and seizures

Valium overdose symptoms

When someone has a Valium addiction and regularly takes the drug, their body will have built up a natural tolerance to it, meaning that the person will take more and more Valium in order to feel the desired effects, or to stop withdrawal. This can leave the person at risk of an overdose, where symptoms include:

  • Mild responses such as confusion, exhaustion, drowsiness
  • Severe responses including reduced reflexes, high blood pressure, respiratory depression and an inability to control your body
  • Rare and severe responses include coma and death

If combined with alcohol or other drugs, this can be very dangerous and be fatal.

The importance of detox for Valium addiction

As there is the possibility of having severe reactions during withdrawal, it is highly recommended that a person with a Valium addiction detoxes with the support of professionals. Medically assisted withdrawal detox ensures that the process is safe, thorough and managed as smoothly and comfortably as possible.

Further treatment and therapy for Valium addiction

At Priory, detox can be followed by our Addiction Treatment Programme, where therapeutic methods are used to help you identify your dependency, tackle your symptoms, address underlying triggers and improve your self-confidence. The therapy you receive will be entirely tailored to you, as we help you to get your life back on track in a safe and non-judgemental space.

This page was reviewed by Derek Hart (Dip in Addiction Therapy)- the lead therapist for Priory Hospital Bristol’s Addiction Treatment Programme - in November 2018, and is scheduled to be reviewed again in November 2020.

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