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Drug addiction has been a menace to society for thousands of years, from the use of opium in the 4th Century BC to the huge variety of drugs abused in the 21st century including, cocaine, marijuana, LSD, heroin, and countless others. One such drug is Diazepam, also known as Valium. You may have heard the famous rapper ‘Eminem’ rap about this drug in several of his songs but what exactly is Valium? Diazepam (Valium) is a medicine that acts as an anxiolytic or in simpler words, is used to treat anxiety.

Other medical uses include the treatment of insomnia, muscle spasms, and various withdrawal syndromes. It is a drug that is to be used only if prescribed by the doctor and must be used in quantities specified by the said doctor. However, since it is a drug that is used to relax the mind and create a sense of euphoria many people are unable to withdraw and become addicted to this drug, Former Valium addict Sayra Small claims “[Valium] makes it so you have no problem. I mean the house could burn down and you’d just sit there saying, OK, this is all right.” This shows how it affects the human brain and exactly why these addicts continue to use this drug in obscene amounts, leading to numerous side effects both severe and mild.

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People start to abuse Valium usually after being prescribed, but usually, they might start abusing out of boredom just to feel good. Peer pressure and family environment can also contribute to people getting addicted. Every addict has a reason for addiction, and these reasons lead them down the dark road of addiction and abuse.

In the UK, diazepam is used as a medicine to relieve anxiety. It is not used as a continued treatment but instead is to be used as a single dose to relieve stress and anxiety at a given time. It is a prescription drug and cannot be obtained in the UK without a doctor’s prescription. Benzodiazepines are classified as class C drugs, and it is illegal to sell, possess or give the drug for non-medical purposes.

Read Also: The Side Effects of Mixing Co-Codamol and Alcohol

The most popular brand of diazepam in the UK is Valium. It is now available as Diazemuls, Stesolid Rectal Tubes, Diazepam Destin, and Diazepam Rectubes. In the UK, the street names of the drugs are Eggs, Blues, Moggies, Valilies, and Roofies.

Valium (diazepam) is a type of Benzodiazepine (benzos) that is used for a variety of mental illnesses and disorders, like anxiety and seizures. It is long-acting, meaning that it remains in the body for longer and so fewer doses are required. Valium is one of the most common benzodiazepines due to its lasting effect than other benzos. Even if it is given by a practitioner, the use of Valium for more than 4 to 6 weeks is likely to cause addiction. The user is then unable to function normally without it.

Valium/diazepam is a prescription medicine and is used for alcohol withdrawal, muscles spasms, insomnia, schizophrenia, panic attacks, severe anxiety, and epileptic seizures. It works by relaxing the nerves and the brain and slowing down the central nervous system (CNS). It also increases the activity of some neurotransmitters in the brain which help to achieve the effect of calming. It is taken by the mouth, either in a tablet form or in a liquid form. In either case, it serves the same antianxiety purpose.

As aforementioned, Valium can become addictive if it is taken for longer than 4 to 6 weeks. Even more than 2 weeks can prove injurious. A user may overreach this timespan either because the given dosage has not been complete or the user has chosen to take the diazepam, despite the end of the prescription. The effect valium has on the nerves and the brain becomes something the user longs for. Hence, he/she continues taking the drug long enough to end up being dependent upon it for adequate brain functioning. This is because valium affects the same receptor cells (called GABA) as alcohol, giving the brain a similar calming stimulus. The patient searches for this sort of relaxation which is only achieved through increased amounts of valium, eventually resulting in addition and subsequent chronic health issues. Adding on, Valium stimulates the same reward systems that improve mood and provide energy, by increasing the secretion of the hormones noradrenaline, dopamine, and serotonin.

Related: Cocaine Addiction and Abuse Side Effects in the UK

Diazepam/valium is one of the most abused benzodiazepines and, thus, it is not surprising that the substance is addictive. In fact, a study in 2013 showed that 1.2 million first-time users abused valium. The easy addiction is also attributed to the fact that the withdrawal symptoms of valium are very hard to ignore. What is worse is that the patients will not know how serious the addiction is, or will not admit to the addiction altogether, until its signs start appearing. A user taking Valium for purposes such as anxiety may feel that without the substance, their symptoms will get out of control and they may have a panic/anxiety attack.

 In reality, however, this is only self-made and he/she can function appropriately without it. To help to wean off the drug, the respected doctor should recommend a therapist and/or psychologist who can then play a role in making sure the patient does not get addicted. 

Long-term use also results in tolerance and dependence. This means that the patient needs to take increased dosages to attain the same effect and they feel as though they are unable to function without it – again signaling addiction. 

The first and foremost effects that a diazepam user experiences after taking a dose include euphoria, lack of coordination, and the feeling of being drunk, these effects last for a while but eventually the high subsides causing undesirable effects such as depression, further anxiety, irritation and sometimes even cramps, seizures and fever may be experienced after the use of Valium.

 Most addicts then proceed to take more pills in order to return to the euphoric relaxed state resulting in abuse of the drug. Prolonged use leads to more severe side effects.  This not only makes the side effects worsen but the user runs the risk of overdosing. This drug affects the mind and can have many more physical effects on the user such as a dry mouth, nausea, appetite change, blurred vision, slurred speech, rashes, irregular heartbeat, and muscle weakness.

In addition to physical and mental issues, Valium addiction can even lead to social isolation. one may face issues maintaining healthy relationships, socializing and it can even lead to financial difficulties as one might be in a state unfit to work.

Many people are under the false assumption, that if they take diazepam with alcohol, their alcohol withdrawal symptoms will be better. However, this is not the case. Mixing Valium and alcohol, in fact, worsens the withdrawal symptoms.

It can also increase the risks of an overdose. Mixing these two drugs which are nervous system depressants, can actually be a very unpleasant experience and may even be life-threatening.

Using these two together can lower your breathing to such a level that it may even lead to death. Other side effects include feeling sleepy and drowsy or lightheaded. It can slow down the heart rate and also lead to mental disabilities.

Those mixing these drugs together could get addicted to both, leading to what is known as “poly-substance addiction”. This can have an adverse impact on the liver and could prove to be fatal.

How much is an overdose

People believe that valium is not as addictive as other drugs like heroin, and end up misusing it without conscious awareness. Although Valium can be difficult to overdose when it is taken as often and as much as the practitioner has advised, the possibility of it is still great. Like most things when surpassed in moderation, diazepam/valium also proves detrimental to health in large quantities.

Overdose means that the required, recommended or safe amounts of a particular substance are exceeded. The normal amount of valium in tablet formulations is 2 mg, 5 mg, and 10mg. Per day, the use takes a total of 4 mg to 40 mg when taken multiple times a day. It is not recommended to take more than 10 mg of the drug at one time. Anything higher than this counts as an overdose and repeating this over a period of time will surely result in destructive effects.

Signs of Valium overdose

Misuse and overdose of Valium is evident through several signs, which are as follows;
• Severe drowsiness
• Being delirious
• Slurred speech
• Blurred vision
• Lack of coordination and balance
• Breathing changes specifically slowed and labored breathing
• Tremors
• Blueish lips
• Worsened insomnia, anxiety, and seizures
• Falling into deep sleep or “coma” as it is hard to wake the person up
• Hallucinations

Besides these signs, intense craving for valium, using it despite its side effects and risks, loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities and isolation from friends and family also indicate an overdose. Liver failure and irregular heartbeat may also result. In highly severe cases, death may result but, as explained later, this is a rare happening.

What is the lethal dose?

Valium is not a hazardous drug when it comes to posing a threat to life. Despite the countless side effects of the drug and the dangers of its overdose, it is relatively difficult to die solely due to valium overdose. However, using other substances (like alcohol and opioids) while being on Valium medication can cause more toxic effects and may even be life-threatening and cause other illnesses like respiratory problems and slowing down the central nervous system.

In one reported case, a 2000 mg intake of valium in a day did not cause death, so the exact amount that causes death is not yet known. Some people can overdose in smaller quantities, while others require more. This is dependent upon the users’ age, metabolism, gender, weight, and method of drug administration (with or without food).

A faster metabolism means valium is broken down faster, and so the patient will feel the need to take more in a shorter amount of time than a person with a slower metabolism. When ingested with food, it takes longer to fulfill its desired effect. Older people are more likely to have adverse effects of the drug than younger adults and are not advised to take it, especially because they may be taking other medicines that can interfere with Valium and create more problems.

The symptoms of valium abuse/addiction overlap with the signs of valium overdose. These include; 

  • Dizziness and drowsiness
  • Difficulties in coordination
  • Difficulty in breathing or slowed breathing
  • Slowed movements
  • Slurred speech 
  • Shaking

The symptoms also include changes in eating patterns, changes in mood (for the worse), feeling tired, skin rashes, nausea, memory issues (e.g. anterograde amnesia), hypersalivation or dry mouth, uncontrollable cravings for valium and dilated pupils. One of the most catastrophic symptoms of valium abuse is that the user feels as if everything is alright even when it is not. For example, amidst a fire in the kitchen, they would not flinch or seem worried at all. For obvious reasons, this is critically dangerous. Many times, the patient does not even realize they are addicted to Diazepam as, at face value, it is harmless.

On one side, taking Valium excessively causes addiction and numerous health problems, on the other, halting its use immediately can very easily become disastrous. The user is likely to experience withdrawal symptoms, like even worse anxiety and sleeplessness. This resulting anxiety is called rebound anxiety as the patient experiences enhanced anxiety when he/she leaves the drug than when they started in order to get rid of it. Studies show that it is more commonly abused by older adults and that females use valium twice as much as males.

Valium Withdrawal symptoms can be severe if use is stopped abruptly, causing coma, seizures, and other dangers that can lead to death. Benzodiazepines such as Valium can be very stressful to get rid of once a person develops addiction as withdrawal symptoms and be quite unbearable. On average, it takes about 90 days for withdrawal symptoms to get better, however, in some cases, it could even take up to nearly a year. Many symptoms discussed above are also experienced during withdrawal such as headaches, cramps, panic attacks, heart palpitations. Some severe symptoms include psychosis, convulsions, seizures, and even death.

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder notes that even consuming as little as 15 mg of Valium each day for a few months can lead to experiencing withdrawal symptoms. 

Like all other drugs, there are methods by which a Valium addict can be rid of the drug. Though withdrawal symptoms can be quite bad, addicts recover if they seek professional help. This means they are monitored by those trained in dealing with such patients.

Since withdrawal is not easy, professional help is designed to cater to each patient’s individual needs and issues. Valium takes a toll on the person mentally. To help with that, psychologically and psychiatrists are present to aid the patient and ease recovery.

Patients require a peaceful, nurturing environment. During withdrawal, they typically experience anxiety and mood swings, so it is only fitting that they get treated in a suitable environment, free of stress.

Patients are rid of the drug through a process called “Valium Detox”, which essentially means the body is detoxified from the body. The drug is effectively removed from the person’s body in a supervised manner, which reduces the severity of symptoms likely to be experienced.

Valium detox is a necessary step for recovering addicts. It ensures no further abuse and dependence on the drug. The aim is usually to reduce any discomfort addicts might face and to effectively rid the body of Valium. It is clear that due to the extreme issues faced when trying to leave Valium, a person gets edgy and moody.

Due to all these reasons, it is always recommended and encouraged to seek help professionally. It is highly discouraged that one tries to detox at home. FDA also urges people not to try detox at home and should allow professionals to help them. Gradually reducing Diazepam intake can help a person recover with ease.

Home detox carried with it the risk of relapse. Valium users might not be able to deal with withdrawal symptoms on their own and thus will turn back to consuming the drug. In a professional environment, relapse can be dealt with promptly by medical and psychological help.



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