The generic drug diazepam is commonly referred to by its brand name, Valium. Valium is a prescription drug that has anxiolytic (anti-anxiety), sedative, analgesic (pain reducing), muscle relaxant and anticonvulsant properties. It is commonly prescribed for the short-term treatment of anxiety, panic attacks, sleep problems and seizures. People who take Valium may swallow or inject it in either a pill, capsule or liquid form.

What Are Prescription Sedatives?

Benzodiazepines such as Valium (diazepam) are drugs that are categorized as prescription sedatives, tranquilizers or central nervous system (CNS) depressants, as they reduce the activity of the brain, spinal cord and nervous system. Other prescription sedatives include barbiturates (e.g., phenobarbital) and non-benzodiazepine sleep medications (e.g., Ambien).

How Does Valium Work In The Brain?

Anxiety disorders are thought to be caused from lack of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a brain chemical that helps cells communicate. Valium works by increasing the activity of GABA, which slows brain activity to produce feelings of calmness and relaxation, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

What Conditions Does Valium Treat?

Benzodiazepines are used to treat anxiety disorders and anxiety related to medical conditions, surgical procedures or mental disorders such as depression. It is a Schedule IV controlled substance that is available as an injectable, tablet or gel. Doses typically range from five to 40 milligrams per day.

Valium (diazepam) is prescribed for the treatment of:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Acute alcohol withdrawal symptoms
  • Chronic sleep disorders
  • Muscle spasms
  • Seizure disorders
  • Anxiety before a medical procedure

Side Effects of Valium

Valium generally begins to take effect in about 30 minutes, and effects can last for 12 to 24 hours. The NIDA reported that low doses of Valium can produce short-term effects such as:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Muscle spasms and weakness
  • Vision problems (e.g., blurred vision)
  • Decreased alertness
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Poor concentration
  • Coordination problems, such as loss of balance (ataxia)
  • Problems with memory and movement

Paradoxical effects such as aggression or disinhibition can also occur with benzodiazepines, but these side effects are usually rare. Valium can be particularly dangerous when combined with other drugs such as alcohol and opioids, as this combination can dangerously slow heart rate and breathing, which can be fatal.

Benzodiazepines such as Valium also have a high potential for abuse, physical dependence and addiction. When taken for long periods of time or in larger doses than prescribed, the risk for negative side effects increases as does the risk of dependence and addiction.

Long-term Effects And Health Consequences

Taking Valium longer than three months can cause cognitive problems and can lead to physical dependence and withdrawal; physical dependence can develop after a few days or weeks. Long-term Valium use can also slow breathing and heart rate, which can be dangerous, and increase the risk of infectious disease when the drug is injected due to sharing needles.

Dependence And Withdrawal

People who take diazepam for long time periods or who take the drug in higher doses or longer than prescribed may also experience withdrawal symptoms when they try to suddenly stop taking the medication. Some of the withdrawal symptoms of Valium may include:

  • Vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Tremors
  • Restlessness
  • Seizures
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal and muscle cramps

People who wish to stop taking Valium after taking the medication for a long period of time may need to be tapered off the drug by their prescribing physician. The doctor will slowly reduce the patient’s dosage to minimize withdrawal effects of the drug.

Valium Addiction

Valium addiction can lead to compulsive drug use, drug cravings and continued use of the drug despite negative consequences that result from its use. Valium addiction is associated with withdrawal symptoms when a person tries to stop taking the drug. While Valium abuse rarely leads to death, it can still lead to physical and psychological dependence and withdrawal symptoms that can be life-threatening.

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Addiction Treatment at Sovereign Health of Arizona

Sovereign Health of Arizona offers various types of treatment options for women who are addicted to Valium or have problems with Valium abuse. The Valium addiction treatment program offered to women at Sovereign Health of Arizona offers a holistic array of evidence-based treatments for substance use disorders, including addiction to Valium and other benzodiazepines.

Our residential rehabilitation facility for women at Sovereign Health’s Chandler location specializes in the treatment of trauma and abuse along with specialized treatments for substance use disorders and mental illness. Women who receive treatment at Sovereign Health of Arizona receive:

  • A combination of individual and group psychotherapy sessions
  • Psychoeducation
  • Stress and anger management
  • Stress reduction and relaxation techniques
  • Music therapy and art therapy
  • Process groups
  • Trauma-trained therapists
  • Family therapy
  • Evidence-based treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
  • Specialized treatments for trauma such as eye movement desensitization reprocessing (EMDR) therapy
  • Complementary and experiential treatments

Women are thoroughly evaluated during intake to identify the primary and all co-occurring conditions to provide an individually tailored treatment plan optimized to each person. For more information about our treatment of Valium addiction or any of the other programs offered at Sovereign Health of Arizona, call our 24/7 helpline at any time to speak to a member of our admissions team.

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