In 2010, about 16 million Americans used a prescription drug for a non-medical reason, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Prescription painkillers like Vicodin and OxyContin are obvious targets of abuse, as these drugs tend to produce feelings of euphoria and happiness, even when they’re taken at the proper dosage. Benzodiazepine medications like Valium, however, are also commonly associated with addiction, as these drugs can also trigger euphoria and a craving for a repeat performance. Dealing with the issue means getting sober, and when it comes to Valium, slow and steady wins the race. This drug causes profound changes in the brain, and abrupt cessation can lead to terrible discomfort, and perhaps seizures. Tapering a dose down and down until the person is no longer taking drugs is a safer bet.
Pulling Together a Plan
At the beginning of the withdrawal process, medical professionals attempt to determine how much of the drug the person has been taking, and how long the abuse has been going on. These conversations can help medical professionals to create a comprehensive plan to help the person achieve sobriety, and although this plan might change, it forms the roadmap that will dictate how the work progresses.
According to an overview article in the Journal of the Royal College of General Practitioners, some medical professionals begin by substituting Valium for another type of benzodiazepine drug. Other drugs might work on slightly different receptors or they may not work quickly, when compared to Valium, and this might be a big enough change that can start the weaning off right. Next, the dosage schedule is pulled together with small reductions marked at regular intervals. Sometimes, the schedule will eliminate specific times at which the person used drugs. Someone who took Valium in the morning, at noon or at night might take the drug only in the morning and at night, for example. At the end of the tapering schedule, the person might only take one dose every other day.
If the person is in an inpatient addiction program, the doses are handed out regularly, and the person isn’t required to take responsibility for the taper. But, if people live at home during this process, they might only be given enough pills to last them from one appointment to the next, and they might need friends or family members to hand out the pills, so they’re not tempted to splurge.
Tapering is typically very gradual, and often, it’s not intensely uncomfortable. However, the person might be encouraged to look for signs of discomfort, including:
- Changes in perception
These signs could indicate that the tapering is moving at too rapid a pace, and the team might need to place the person on a slightly larger dosage until the discomfort eases. When the person is comfortable, the tapering can begin once more.
There is no ideal time in which a Valium withdrawal can take place. One study published in the journal The Lancet reports that people withdrew from Valium in about eight weeks. Other experts suggest that a tapering can take four months or even longer. It can be frustrating for people to continue to take medications, even though they desperately want to be sober, but it’s important to stick to the plan and work through the treatment as it’s been outlined. A slow and steady taper is the best way to heal from this kind of addiction, and it simply takes time to complete.
As the tapering moves forward, the person can expect to participate in addiction treatment. The tapering allows the body to heal and adjust, but the therapy can help the person to develop robust and healthy habits that can persist for the rest of life. These are the sorts of tasks that people will need to master if they are to maintain the sobriety they achieve at the end of the taper, and therapy can make them possible. Individual counseling, group counseling and support groups will fill up the days as the dosage of medication gets smaller and smaller.
At Axis, we provide complete care for people who need to recover from a Valium addiction. We have a stabilization suite we can utilize, for people who need intensive hospital-based care in order to detox, and we provide medication management for those who live in our residential treatment facility, ensuring they get the right dose at the right time. If you’d like to know more, please call us.