Updated on November 29, 2023
8 min read

What Causes Diazepam Addiction? Exploring the Risks and Signs

Is Valium Addictive?

When patients take Valium routinely over a period of time, they may develop a tolerance to it or a physical dependence on it. When someone has developed a tolerance, they need to take higher doses to gain the same effects they once had at lower doses.

Those with physical drug dependence undergo withdrawal symptoms if they stop taking the drug. This can happen even after only short-term Valium use. People with a history of mental illness or substance abuse are more likely to develop a Valium use disorder than those without these conditions.

Recognizing Valium Addiction

Valium addiction can be challenging to recognize for loved ones and the addicted individual. The drug is sometimes prescribed for up to four months, and addiction may slowly develop during this period.

Because Valium addiction doesn't happen overnight, the signs may appear gradually. If you know someone who is addicted to Valium, be on the lookout for the following signs of Valium abuse:

  • Taking valium at higher doses and out of prescription guidelines
  • Frequently asking for Valium prescription refills
  • Having an unusual preoccupation with taking the drug
  • Having money problems from buying Valium
  • Losing interest in things and activities that they used to love
  • Placing their addiction before professional and personal obligations
  • Performing poorly at school or at work
  • Being in a constant state of sedation from taking too much Valium
  • Reduced ability for normal doses to control seizures or anxiety
  • Increased stress or agitation
  • Increased cravings for alcohol or increased alcohol consumption
  • Higher incidence and severity of side effects
  • Having Valium withdrawal symptoms

Not everyone who abuses Valium is addicted to the drug. Using Valium in any way not prescribed by a doctor counts as abuse. However, you may have formed an addiction if you experience cravings or withdrawal symptoms.

How to Prevent Valium Addiction?

It is possible to reduce your risk of developing tolerance, dependence, and addiction to Valium. First, you'll need to understand your risk factors.

If you have a family history of addiction, you are at a higher risk of developing addiction problems. If this is the case, talk to your doctor about alternatives to drugs like Valium.

An underlying mental health problem can also put you at risk of substance abuse and dependence. Consider talking to a doctor about your condition before taking Valium; they may adjust your dose or provide alternatives.

If you do decide to take Valium, it's important to monitor your drug use. Be sure to reduce the progression of a Valium addiction if you notice any changes in your:

  • Thoughts
  • Behavior
  • Mood
  • Health

Valium Withdrawal

Valium withdrawal symptoms can be very dangerous, even life-threatening. Therefore, you should only take Valium under professional medical supervision.

Typically, clinicians will have you taper off Valium, gradually lowering your dose over time to prevent withdrawal. Clinics and treatment centers can also be ready to administer medications or other medical interventions if needed.

They may also prescribe a different benzodiazepine with fewer side effects and a lower potential for abuse to replace it.

Severe withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stomach pains or cramps
  • Tremors
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Anxiety or rebound anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Death

Valium Addiction Treatment

Fortunately, expert help is available for those with a Valium addiction. It's important to have professionals provide medical assistance during withdrawal.

They can provide alternatives and manage any underlying conditions without Valium. They can also offer mental health support during and after the transition period.

After discontinuing Valium, the next course of treatment is typically psychotherapy, which may involve:

Often, these techniques help patients learn to manage conditions like chronic pain or anxiety for which they originally started taking Valium.


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What is Valium?

Valium (diazepam) is a pharmaceutical drug that treats various medical conditions. It also relieves muscles for certain medical procedures like colonoscopies or MRI scans.

It belongs to a class of medications called benzodiazepines. It works by increasing the activity of certain neurotransmitters in the brain and nervous system, which induces mental and physical relaxation.

However, Valium is also commonly misused and contributes to several social and public health issues. Seek professional help if you or someone you know has become addicted to Valium.


Diazepam Brand Names

Pharmaceutical companies market diazepam under several different brand names, including:

  • Valium
  • Vazepam
  • Valtoco
  • Valrelease
  • Diastat
  • Dizac
  • Q-pam
  • Diazepam Intensol

People often take it orally in tablet form but may receive it as a rectal gel or injection into a vein or muscle.

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Valium Uses

People typically take Valium to help relieve stress and anxiety. Some may also take Valium to help them sleep.

Doctors may prescribe Valium for several conditions or situations, including:

  • Panic attacks
  • Seizures
  • Agitated movements
  • Vertigo symptoms
  • Alcohol or opioid withdrawal
  • Withdrawal from other benzodiazepines
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle spasms
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Tetanus
  • Spastic muscles (muscles that cannot move well because they are stuck in a contracted position)
  • Overdoses of stimulants or hallucinogens, such as LSD, cocaine, or methamphetamine
  • Hyperbaric oxygen therapy

Because of its utility in many circumstances, Valium is one of the most widely used drugs in the U.S. Over five million prescriptions for diazepam (Valium) were written in 2017.

Why Do People Misuse Valium?

Although Valium has many uses and benefits, it can also be abused because of these benefits. In large doses, the drug produces intense calm and euphoria. However, people may abuse valium to self-medicate stress and other mental health conditions.

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The Dangers of Valium

Like other medications, Valium use has some potential adverse effects, even when used appropriately. When people overuse it or take it without the guidance of their healthcare provider, the risks of serious complications increase significantly.

Here are some dangers associated with Valium use:

  • Valium can possibly cause seizures and coma in heavy users
  • Increased risk of drug abuse or dependency
  • Increased risk of being involved in a vehicular accident
  • Severe withdrawal side effects for heavy users

It can also interact with other substances that cause central nervous system (CNS) depression, like alcohol and opioid painkillers. This can lead to severe side effects and can even be fatal.

Because of these side effects, you should be careful when taking Valium. Especially if you notice early signs of tolerance or addiction.

Side Effects of Valium

Side effects are more likely or more pronounced when you take Valium in higher doses.

Common side effects of Valium include:

  • Confusion
  • Sedation or drowsiness
  • Anterograde amnesia
  • Shakiness or trembling
  • poor motor conditions
  • pale skin
  • Shallow breathing
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Decreased alertness

Signs and Symptoms Related to Valium Use

Because Valium slows down CNS activity, it can also affect your heart rate, respiratory system, and digestion.

Signs and symptoms of heavy Valium use include:

  • Depression
  • Disorientation
  • Double vision
  • Increased anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability 
  • Paranoia
  • Poor judgment
  • Restlessness
  • Slurred speech

Valium Overdose

A Valium overdose can lead to serious complications and side effects. If you notice any signs of a Valium overdose, seek immediate medical attention.

Potential overdose effects include:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Hyperventilation or slow breathing
  • Loss of coordination
  • Loss of strength or energy
  • Muscle pain or weakness
  • Pale or blue hue to lips, fingernails, or skin
  • Sleepiness, drowsiness, or fatigue
  • Dulled or slowed thinking or movement

Who Shouldn't Take Valium?

Taking Valium could make certain existing disorders worse. Likewise, other conditions may cause more serious side effects to occur.

People should avoid Valium or only take it under careful medical supervision if they have certain conditions. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Respiratory problems
  • Epilepsy or seizures
  • Glaucoma
  • Liver disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Sleep apnea
  • Mental health disorders (such as depression)
  • Substance use disorders (alcohol or drug abuse)
  • Myasthenia gravis (a neuromuscular disease)

Since Valium can harm infants and developing fetuses, women should avoid it if they are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Drug & Medication Interactions

As mentioned before, Valium can interact with other medications and affect how the body processes them. The interaction is more potent in combination with other CNS depressants like alcohol, sleep medications, cold medications, etc.

Other examples of medications that interact with Valium include:


Valium is the brand name for a benzodiazepine called diazepam. It's used to treat various conditions as well as provide sedation for certain medical procedures.

Although it has many uses, it can be abused due to its euphoric and relaxing side effects. Valium abuse can quickly lead to addiction and dependence, with many negative side effects.

Fortunately, help is always available for anyone with a Valium addiction. With the proper support and resources, there is a high probability of overcoming Valium dependence.

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Updated on November 29, 2023

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