Valium Addiction: Signs and Symptoms

Valium, also known as diazepam, is a pharmaceutical drug that produces feelings of calm. It is typically prescribed to treat muscular problems such as spasms, as well as anxiety. Valium can make users feel relaxed and sleepy, if not drowsy. Benzodiazepines come under many different brand names, but what exactly is Valium, and can it be addictive?

What is Valium

Valium (diazepam) is a type of medicine known as a benzodiazepine and most often comes in pill form. It has a multitude of medicinal purposes and is used to treat:

  • muscle spasms
  • anxiety
  • seizures or fits
  • restless leg syndrome
  • insomnia

Valium also has a role to play in addiction treatment. Valium and other benzodiazepines help reduce alcohol withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms include anxiety, hallucinations, and seizures. In more severe cases of alcohol withdrawal, people can experience autonomic hyperactivity. This affects the central nervous system and can be fatal.

How Long Does Valium last?

Depending on the type of benzodiazepine and how it was taken, it may take up to thirty minutes for the effects to be felt. The half-life for Valium is around forty-eight hours. This is the amount of time it takes for half of the dose to leave the body.

It can take even longer for the metabolites of Valium to exit the body. One metabolite, Nordiazepam, has a half-life of up to 100 hours. Metabolites are the byproducts of metabolism, or the bits left over after your body uses up the substance.

Valium and Mental Health

As we have seen, Valium is used to treat many muscular ailments. It can also ease uncomfortable symptoms resulting from alcohol withdrawal. However, this long-acting benzodiazepine is also used to treat anxiety. Its relaxing effects can help people deal with anxiety crises in the short term. The drug’s effectiveness makes it a very common treatment for anxiety disorders.

The use of diazepam and other benzodiazepines to relieve severe stress is less common. Some research shows that it can be effective in reducing some fear-memory processing. In both cases, it is important to note that a medical professional must prescribe Valium for it to be safe.

For many people, Valium is part of their treatment for mental health problems. It can be hard for people to moderate their drug use when it results in a feeling of intense calm. This is exacerbated by it being a self-administered medicine, and dependency can result from its over-use.

How Valium Works

With so many uses, what actually happens to someone taking Valium? Valium acts on a person’s brain, helping to calm it by reducing high neuron activity levels. The drug works by enhancing the efficiency of the chemical GABA. Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA) is a chemical messenger that helps reduce certain brain activity. GABA targets the areas of the brain responsible for emotion, thought, and memory. Valium use results in diminishing hyperactive brain function, thanks to the increase in GABA activity.

The use of Valium can relieve stress this way, but it can also affect the muscles. Valium’s effects on the brain can result in a reduction in muscle spasms, thanks to the increase in GABA activity. Benzodiazepine prescriptions also help ease muscular complaints.

The Side Effects of Valium

We can see that Valium when prescribed and used responsibly can be very helpful, but what about the side effects?

The drug’s effects are not always helpful. Some side effects include drowsiness and feeling sleepy. Part of what makes it so helpful for some people can also make users feel tired all the time. Double vision is another possible side effect of Valium.

On top of the double vision, drowsiness can make activities like driving or operating other heavy machinery very risky. This might mean that people, when prescribed the medicine, are unable to do their jobs. In this case, they may need fewer doses.

Other side effects are confusion, shaking hands, and even a loss of coordination. While these might not sound so bad on their own, they can make it very difficult for a person to go about their daily lives. Again, they may be taking larger doses than they need and should speak to their doctor about it.

Mixing Valium with Other Substances

When taken without a prescription, there is a greater risk of substance abuse. Drug addiction is rarely a simple affair, and there is often a mix of substances and stressors involved. Valium is more dangerous when taken in conjunction with street drugs, such as opiates and amphetamines.

The use of opiates in conjunction with Valium produces a huge increase in fatal overdoses. A study published in the National Institute of Health has shown that the involvement of synthetic opioids (other than methadone) drastically increased the number of fatal benzodiazepine overdoses.

As it is also prescribed to help ease the withdrawal symptoms from alcohol abuse, there is again a risk of developing a further addiction to Valium. That is partly why treatment programs must be tailor-made for the individual but also adhered to.

What Happens If You Take Too Much Valium?

As with all drugs, it is possible to take too much Valium. A Valium overdose can be very dangerous. Here are some signs to look out for:

  • blurry vision
  • blue lips or fingers
  • confusion
  • dizziness
  • drowsiness
  • difficulty breathing
  • tremors

Beyond these symptoms, taking higher doses of valium can result in life-threatening situations. Valium abuse can lead to the person losing consciousness or becoming unresponsive. If left unchecked, respiratory difficulties can occur which may be fatal.

A study published in the National Institute of Health (NIH) looked into rising rates of Valium overdose. It found that the rates of fatal overdoses between 1996 and 2013 rose at a rate higher than the percentage of Americans being prescribed the drug. This could be down to many things, but the study pointed to larger doses per prescription as a potential cause.

If you are worried that someone might have overdosed, then seek medical attention immediately.

Is Valium Addictive?

Valium addiction is a very real possibility, and the number of people who abuse Valium is also rising. According to the study in the NIH mentioned earlier, the number of adults filling a benzodiazepine prescription between 1996 and 2013 went up by over five million.

Of those who filed Valium (diazepam) prescriptions, the median amount filled over the year more than doubled. This means people are either being given more Valium or a longer treatment period. With more people taking Valium at higher doses, the risk of addiction is also likely to increase.

Signs of Valium Addiction

So how can you tell if you or someone you care about may be addicted to Valium? Valium addiction can result in many adverse consequences for someone. This can manifest socially, with people becoming more secretive and spending more money on Valium than they can afford. They may also engage in illegal activity to source illicit benzodiazepines. But are there any physical symptoms? Here are some to look out for:

  • paranoia
  • aggression
  • dizziness
  • falling over frequently
  • memory loss
  • loss of focus
  • breathing difficulty

As Valium works on the brain, there are also psychological symptoms that go alongside Valium addiction. People addicted to Valium often lose interest in once enjoyable activities, such as hobbies and socializing. There is also the risk of withdrawal symptoms when the person tries to cut back on their Valium use.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Valium withdrawal can occur when someone tries to cut down, go cold turkey, or even if they miss a dose. Valium addiction can lead to a physical dependence on the drug, and so withdrawal can be difficult without help. Withdrawal symptoms can include headaches, heart palpitations, and hypersensitivity across the senses. In severe cases, the withdrawal process can even lead to grand mal seizures.

Valium withdrawal symptoms also manifest psychologically. In some cases, these symptoms can actually increase a person’s craving for Valium. On top of the anxiety and paranoia that go with addiction, withdrawal can result in hallucinations and delusions. People may even experience depersonalization. This is is the feeling of being ‘outside’ oneself or of watching your own actions.

Valium Addiction Treatment

Treatment for valium addiction can greatly help improve a person’s quality of life and help them reduce their dependence on the drug. As with all substance abuse treatment, a personalized approach led by professionals leads to the best results.

It can happen that a person abusing Valium experiences an overdose. In this case, their immediate priority should be to seek treatment for the overdose.

Medical Detox for Valium (Diazepam) Addiction

For many people, medical detox is the first port of call. Timelines for a detox vary with each individual case. By going through the process in a treatment facility, the person will receive help in managing the withdrawal symptoms in a safe way.

Most Valium addiction treatment starts with a detox before moving on to treatment for other drug abuse or for whatever underlying mental health issues may be involved. It is not uncommon for people to require further addiction treatment for other drugs, such as opioids or alcohol.

Rehab for Valium Addiction

Due to Valium’s long-lasting nature, the treatment process often needs to be carefully conducted. Valium withdrawal symptoms can be unpleasant. If the treatment is rushed or incomplete, there may be an increased risk of relapsing or of having more severe symptoms.

Treatment programs will often take a dual approach, combining a reduction in dosage with therapy. Support groups and other therapeutic sessions can help tackle the psychological symptoms. Therapy can also help any mental health issues which form part of the addiction. This holistic approach to treatment ensures that the patient is safe, comfortable, and on the right path.

Treatment Programs

When a person decides to enter treatment for any substance abuse, it is of great importance that they receive the right emotional support. Addiction treatment is complicated, and a holistic approach gives the best chance of success. Treatment centers like the NP Addiction Clinic are able to offer an exceptional combination of addiction treatment and mental health support.

The road to recovery is not always easy, but knowing you have the support of trained medical professionals can make all the difference. Seeking addiction treatment can be the first step toward taking back control and building a better life. The right treatment could only be a simple phone call away.

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Samantha Kelly​

Director of National Business Development & Admissions Coordinator

I am a dedicated and passionate professional with extensive experience in business development Admissions and marketing. I have an incredible passion for showing others that there is a light at the end of this dark tunnel if someone truly wants it.
Being in recovery myself I understand the struggles of addiction and alcoholism. I Started this Career path in 2009. With multiple years of experience, I bring a multi-faceted approach and am always seeking new ways to make a difference in the lives of those I work with.

Kim L. Buckner

Facilitator

As a Substance Abuse Motivational Speaker, Pastor, Peer Advocate, and Facilitator. Kim helps clients avoid relapse by understanding their triggers. Those people, places and things that can cause craving, as well as internal triggers like feelings, thoughts, or emotions. Kim also clients with identifying and building healthy relationships now that they’re clean and sober.

Kim’s background includes extensive experience as a motivational speaker and work in faith-based organizations helping youth and adults alike. He says he is motivated by giving back to the community, understanding, and not judging who she comes into contact with. Kim’s favorite quote is by Dr. Raymond Johnson: “The respect given to others rebounds to the giver to deny the scared in the Other is to deny it in oneself.”

Caty Burns

Clinician

Caty graduated from Indiana University Bloomington in 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and minors in Counseling and History. Throughout her undergrad, she worked at the local CASA program, supporting volunteers advocating for children who had experienced abuse and neglect. Caty worked for seven years at a community mental health center (CMHC), partnering with children, adults, and families.

During those seven years, she taught life and coping skills as well as behavior management, provided case management and peer recovery services, and facilitated treatment teams that included the client, family, providers, and community members. I have also worked at an IOP providing group therapy services. She is currently working towards my Master of Social Work.

In her free time, Caty enjoys reading, especially historical fiction, spending time outdoors and having movie nights with her family. Disney World is her happy place, and she dreams of living among the elephants.

Madison Knowles

Mental Health Therapist

My name is Madison Knowles, I am a Mental health therapist at NPAC. I am a single-mother of two and I have a daughter who is globally delayed and has been diagnosed with autism. I have been in this industry since I was 16 years old, as I was fascinated with human behavior. I obtained my masters in applied behavioral analysis and started off working with people with disabilities. I then found my love for counseling when I worked with juveniles who had mental health and substance use issues. I then decided to go back for my mental health therapy license after that and working in a forensic treatment center. I went on to obtain my therapy credentials and since 2017, I have also been working on my PhD in forensic psychology in which I am currently working on my dissertation. I am inspired by change and how resilient people can be. My favorite inspirational quote is “Some will, Some won’t, So what, NEXT!!!” This quote has inspired me to try, try, and try again no matter how hard life gets, someone will give you a chance eventually. As a therapist at NPAC, I have been given the opportunity to work with diverse populations such as in substance use and mental health and I am known for my work with people on the schizophrenic spectrum as well as with other clients with other severe conditions including personality disorders.

Megan Carmona, LMHC

Lead Therapist

Our Lead Therapist, Megan, is a bilingual Licensed Mental Health Counselor who specializes in working with adults who struggle with addiction, anxiety, depression, and trauma. As Lead Therapist, she provides individual, family, and group therapy sessions to our clients.  Megan says “I am very passionate about therapy, especially about supporting my clients in exploring their strengths and identity. My goal is to provide individuals with the tools that can help them achieve independence in coping with their challenges and facilitating personal development.” In her free time, Megan enjoys watching docu-series and playing video games with her family. Her dream is to own acres of land so she can care for vulnerable animals, especially old dogs, cats, and horses. 

Kristen Bensley

Primary Clinician

As Primary Clinician, Kristen works with all aspects of our clinical team, from case management to primary therapy.  She has broad experience working in the mental health field. Prior to joining our team at the Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic, Kristen was part of the team awarded the Evernorth Behavioral Health Center of Excellence Designation by Cigna. She says her motivation is to help people rediscover who they are and become excited about the future and all the possibilities life offers. Kristen’s favorite quote is: “You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.”

Ronn Daigle, MSW

Therapist, Utilization Review Clinician

Ronn Daigle services as a Therapist and Utilization Review Clinician at the Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic. He has been working in the field of substance use disorder treatment since 2011, with experience in all facility-based levels of care. Ronn earned, both an Associate of Arts in Psychology (2013) and Bachelor of Science in Human Services, with an Addiction Studies Concentration (2015) from Indian River State College. 

Ronn additionally earned a Master of Social Work degree in 2021 and is a current Registered Clinical Social Work Intern working toward licensure (LCSW). He describes himself as detail oriented, and solution focused.

Ronn says: “There is nothing more fulfilling than working with someone who doesn’t believe in himself or herself, and being there in the moment with them when the belief begins. We work with individuals who come to us at a point and time in their respective lives where they do not believe that change for others is possible; let alone for themselves…throughout the process they eventually come to a point where they realize that change is not only possible, but achievable.”

Erika Melecio, LMHC, MCAP, CEI

Assistant Clinical Director

Erika Melecio, LMHC, MCAP, CEI is the Assistant Clinical Director at Neuropsychiatric Addiction Clinic who specializes in the treatment of LGBTQ, addiction, as well as mental health disorders ranging from depression and anxiety, to Bipolar Disorder, trauma, personality disorders, psychotic disorders, and eating disorders. Erika utilizes a number of modalities including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Solution Focused Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, and Mindfulness amongst others. Erika has been in practice for close to a decade and has earned her license in Mental Health Counseling, as well as being a Master’s Certified Addiction Professional. Erika has worked with many individuals including couples counseling and family therapy, and is fluent in Spanish.
 
Throughout my years of practice, one of the things I enjoy helping people find is inner peace. Whether you are in the deepest parts of depression, overrun by your anxiety, controlled by your addiction, or there are certain issues in your life that are negatively impacting your ability to function, and have a happy, healthy life, maybe now is the time to talk about it. I am a big believer in empowerment, working hard in therapy, and utilizing different techniques to help you regain that inner peace that may have been lost along the way. I want to work with you as a team because with two people, absolutely everything is possible. I want to be there as a therapist, to help build you up, support you, but also help you be honest with yourself and accountable. At the end of the day, when all is said and done, my biggest goal for you is going to be simple….for you to no longer need my services. Why? Because if you no longer need my services, it means that you have regained your peace, you have regained your strength, you have regained your confidence. It means that you now have the tools to address any issues that try to derail you, and best of all, you will have the insight to overcome and thrive. So let’s begin this journey together, and get you to the place you want to be, emotionally, mentally, psychologically, and in your sobriety.

Aurelio Ayuso, MSW, LCSW, CAP, ICADC

Clinical Director

Aurelio has worked with those that suffer from the disease of addiction in adults and juveniles alike for over 10 years, beginning in the United States Navy where he proudly served for 20 years, working with those that were succumbed by addiction due to trauma and continuing his passion for helping those in need locally in Central Florida.

He specializes in both Addictions and Trauma, he has worked first as a therapist then as the clinical supervisor to both the Juvenile and Adult Drug Court programs in Brevard County. Aurelio has been instrumental in developing substance abuse treatment programs directly tailored to help those that also suffer from complex trauma due to their addiction. He has been recognized by several organizations for his forward thinking and ability to tailor treatment to individuals in the most restrictive environments.

Mr. Ayuso received his Graduate Degree in Clinical Social Work from the University of Central Florida in Orlando. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker as well as Certified Addictions Professional in the State of Florida, and Internationally Certified Alcohol & Drug Counselor. Aurelio specializes in the treatment of Addiction, Trauma, and Abandonment using strength based strategies deeply rooted in Solution Focused, and Mindfulness Therapies. At the Neuropsychiatric Addiction Clinic he passionately develops holistic curriculums that foster the belief that through addressing the mind, body, and spirit together, the Disease of Addiction can be addressed successfully.

Robert Lehmann, MHSA

Chief Operating Officer

Bob Lehmann is the Chief Operating Officer at the Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic. He has a Master’s Degree in Human Services Administration with a concentration in Mental Health Administration and over twenty-five years of experience as a senior executive at addiction and mental health treatment facilities.

One of the reasons for his commitment to excellence in addiction treatment was his experience related to family members who suffered from the disease of addiction. Bob has been actively involved in community organizations throughout his career. Recently he was one of the founders of the Florida Addiction Treatment Coalition (FATC) and is its present Vice President. FATC was designed to bring together treatment executives in Florida to advocate on behalf of treatment facilities and the clients they serve adhering to a foundation of integrity and service excellence.

Jose R. Toledo, M.D.

Medical Director

A well-rounded and accomplished individual, Jose R. Toledo, M.D., is the Medical Director of Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic.

Dr. Toledo is a neurologist with 25 years of experience and has been in private practice since 1991 on the Treasure Coast of Florida. He completed his neurology training at the State University of New York and his Fellowship training at the University of Pittsburgh in Epilepsy and Clinical Neurophysiology.

He also completed 24 months of acute inpatient psychiatry at the Western Missouri Mental Health Center, University of Missouri in Kansas City. In 2008, Dr. Toledo participated in and was certified in the continuing medical education activity entitled “Buprenorphine and Office-Based Treatment of Opioid Dependence” from The Medical University of South Carolina during which began his quest to found and head Neuropsychiatric Addiction Clinic.

Dr. Toledo is a brain specialist with particular competence in addiction medicine and out-patient detoxification treatment and integrates the fields seamlessly. He is certified to prescribe Buprenorphine (Suboxone). He incorporates his background in neurology into the addiction field. Dr. Toledo is member/fellow of The American Medical Association, The Florida Medical Association and The American Society of Addiction Medicine