Valium is a central nervous system depressant that is generally prescribed to individuals who suffer from anxiety or panic disorders. When used appropriately, the drug is highly effective for its designed purposes.
In the 1950s, researchers and doctors developed the first tranquilizing pharmaceuticals for use in psychiatric hospitals. For two decades, the option for psychiatric patients was no tranquilizer or a major tranquilizer. Many doctors, and certainly their patients, agreed that a medication for the middle ground was desperately needed.
In 1970, diazepam was born. Commonly referred to by the brand name Valium, diazepam is a mild tranquilizer that allowed patients to be sedated at a much milder level when they showed signs of anxiety or panic.
Soon, doctors (not necessarily psychiatrists) were prescribing Valium to their patients outside of psychiatric facilities. As a second-generation tranquilizing drug, Valium was considered safer than previous barbiturates because it was believed that it was less dangerous and less addictive.
Valium is one of the most prevalent drugs prescribed to Americans in the past 40 years, since its development. Interestingly, Valium is prescribed more than twice of often to women than men.
Table of Contents
Given in moderate doses and used according to the directions, Valium does not have exceptional powers of addiction. One of the reasons this drug is popular among primary medical providers is because the patient can take the medication “as needed” without complication. Other tranquilizers in the barbiturate family must be taken consistently, under the care of a qualified medical provider, and must not be discontinued without specialized care.
However, when taken in large doses, Valium has shown psychological addiction in greater numbers. Most individuals who take Valium for recreational purposes also take other drugs that are more highly addictive. Taking Valium with other drugs that slow the central nervous system, including alcohol, can create serious side effects.
Anytime a drug user introduces a drug into their system, they run the risk of creating either a physical or psychological addiction to the substance. In the case of Valium, the drug disrupts the neurotransmitters in the human brain and when it is removed for a prolonged period of time after significant use, the brain will crave the drug in order to feel normal. Because the body will build a tolerance to drugs like Valium rather quickly, more and more of the drug is needed to produce the euphoric effects the drug user is looking for.
Street or Slang Terms for Valium
There have been many street terms used to describe Valium over the years, and most street terms for CNS depressants apply to a wide range of substances rather than one particular brand or drug. The following is a list of some of the most common terms used for Valium or its closely related counterparts:
- Vs (Veez)
- Forget pills
- Valley girls
Signs and Symptoms of Addiction
As with other drugs, there are often signs and symptoms when an individual has developed an addiction to Valium or other central nervous system depressants. Some of these signs will be recognizable to the individual drug user, while others are apparent to those who spend time with him. Some of these symptoms are physical, while others are emotional or behavioral. Recognizing the signs and signals can be paramount to helping yourself or someone you love find recovery.
Valium is taken orally, or the pills might be crushed and inhaled through the nose (snorted). Neither of these methods will leave any tell-tale clues behind. However, there are a few characteristics that one can look for while the individual is actively using:
- Dilated pupils that do not react to light
- Slurred speech
- Decreased motor skills
- Inability to walk or form complete thoughts
- Excessive drowsiness
Central nervous system depressants can often make the drug abuser seem as though he or she is under the influence of alcohol. If they are exhibiting signs of being intoxicated but there is no evidence of alcohol use, they may be under the influence of excessive Valium or something similar.
Emotional and behavioral signs
Valium is often prescribed on a limited basis for conditions that involve panic, paranoia or anxiety. Surprisingly, prolonged use of drugs like Valium can actually create or increase the symptoms they are designed to treat. For instance, when used for recreational purposes over a long period of time, Valium can make a person feel anxious or hyper-alert.
Paraphernalia to look for
Because Valium is generally in the form of a pill, the most significant evidence would be empty prescription bottles or small “sandwich” baggies.
Some recreational users of Valium and other pills have developed another manner of use in recent years, however. In order to crush many pills at once, they have implemented the use of coffee grinders. If a member of your family has a coffee grinder but is not in the habit of grinding coffee, this may be an indication of heavy Valium use.
While it is difficult to overdose on CNS depressants alone, most recreational abusers of Valium do not take only one drug. When the drug is taken in combination with alcohol, for instance, the risks of overdose are quite significant. The long-term health effects of addiction are still not fully understood. What is of significance, however, is the longer duration of the acute withdrawal period associated with Valium.
Many drugs can detoxify from the human body in a few days to two weeks, depending upon the severity of the addiction and the drugs of choice. However, Valium can take as long as an entire month to fully detoxify, depending upon how long the addict has been taking the drug and the amounts typically ingested.
Overdose Signs and Symptoms
When an individual overdoses on Valium, they will typically have taken other drugs at the same time. It is important to watch for the cascade of symptoms which can often appear over a very short period of time. These include:
- Glassy eyes
- Inability to focus or communicate
- Inability to wake once sleeping
- Severely decreased heart rate or blood pressure
- Incoherence or inability to answer simple questions
If an individual exhibits any combination of these symptoms and you suspect they may have taken Valium or another drug, contact emergency services immediately.
Withdrawal Signs and Symptoms
The signs of withdrawal can vary from one individual to another depending upon the drugs used and the severity of the addiction. The signs for Valium withdrawal can mimic those for heroin addiction in some cases, and will be both physical and psychological (emotional) in nature.
An individual who is suffering from withdrawal may show the following symptoms or characteristics:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Body aches and pains
- Tremors and restlessness in the legs or hands
- Easily angered
- Mood swings
- Inability to focus
- Increased anxiety or paranoia
The number of children and teens who have admitted to using Valium is disturbing. In a survey of approximately 50,000 teens between the 8th grade and the 12th grade, Monitoring the Future discovered that as many as 1.2 percent of 8th graders, 2.2 percent of 10th graders and 2.5 percent of high school seniors admitted to using tranquilizers for purposes other than they were prescribed for in the month prior to the survey.
These facts indicate that Valium and other tranquilizers are readily available to younger teens, most likely because they are so frequently prescribed. At the insistence of their peers, young teens can access these drugs in medicine cabinets in their own homes.
If you suspect that someone you care about has an addiction to Valium or another CNS depressant, you do not have to wait for the addict in your life to “hit rock bottom” in order to offer help. In recent years, it has been discovered that raising the bottom to meet the addict can be just as effective in convincing an addict to seek treatment.
Hosting an intervention is one way to raise the bottom. An individual who is addicted to drugs or alcohol often has a one-track mind when it comes to their daily life. Deep down, they may know they are addicted but on the surface, they have only one concern – to get more drugs. They may not truly realize the effects their addiction is having on the lives of those around them.
By confronting the addict as a group, those individuals who love and care about him can show him how many people his drug addiction is harming and what that harm consists of. This can sometimes convince an addict to enter recovery immediately.
It is important to plan an intervention with the help of a qualified interventionist who can train the participants on matters concerning addiction, communication and other techniques. It is equally important that a facility be available to detox the addicted individual immediately. Given a chance to “think it over,” the addict is more likely to change their mind about recovery.
Types of Treatment
In the event the addict agrees to enter treatment, there are many types of facilities from which to choose. The first step of the recovery process is the detox phase, which generally takes place in a specialized facility that can monitor the health and welfare of the recovering addict. However, once that phase is complete, he or she will need to enter an actual treatment program where the bulk of recovery takes place.
Teen-specific treatment centers
These treatment centers specialize in the needs of teens that are addicted to drugs or alcohol. The physical development of the brain for teens is quite different than that of an adult. What an adult finds inconsequential can be traumatic for a teen, for instance, and the staff at a teen facility has the expertise to help their residents through withdrawal and addiction recovery.
Gender-specific treatment facilities
Many times, addiction can stem from abuse suffered in childhood. Some of these issues may be too personal for individuals to share in a mixed-gender environment. If this is the case, a gender-specific treatment center can make the recovering addict feel more comfortable.
Holistic treatment programs
A holistic approach to recovery is one that focuses not only on the addiction but the underlying causes. Through the use of diet, exercise, spiritual development and alternative therapies, a holistic treatment facility addresses the entire person rather than the disease.
Developed by recovering alcoholics, the 12 steps provide a pathway to sobriety that has worked for many alcoholics. It has been adapted for drug abuse as well. For individuals who need a strict set of guidelines, this type of program may be the answer.
The first step to any recovery, regardless of the type of program you choose, is acknowledging that you have a problem and getting help. Recovery is a huge step in a person’s life journey. If you, or someone you know, need help with Valium addiction, please contact Axis today. We can provide you with the information you need to take that first step.