Diazepam is the generic drug better known by the brand name Valium. Valium is categorised as a benzodiazepine, making it useful for several different medical conditions. The same properties that make it useful for so many legitimate psychological and physiological disorders give it a high potential for abuse.
Valium addiction can be devastating not only for the abuser, but for the friends and family of the abuser. Most people who are addicted to diazepam find they are helpless to stop using the drug under their own willpower. Studies show that the best chances of recovery come from a private rehabilitation detox centre such as Life Works.
Diazepam - the drug
- Diazepam was first developed in the early 1960s and marketed by Hoffman-La Roche in 1963 as Valium. Since that time, the patent has expired and over 500 other companies now produce the drug
- It was touted as a miracle drug for anxiety disorders, and sales took off, peaking in 1978 when over 2 billion pills were sold that year in the United States alone
- Its properties as a sedative and muscle relaxant make Valium medically viable today, but it is not prescribed as often as it was in the past because of the propensity of patients to become addicted
- It can relieve major symptoms of psychological and physiological disorders, such as severe anxiety, panic attacks, and insomnia
- It can also be very effective in controlling more severe symptoms such as hallucinations and paranoia
- On the physical side, Valium is a powerful muscle relaxant that can treat uncontrollable tremors, muscle spasms, and convulsions
- The drug works by acting on the central nervous system. It enhances the effects of other chemicals, such as GABA
- It binds at GABA receptors, which causes a decrease in neural activity and an increase in the action of GABA. This creates an inhibitory effect and the hyperpolarisation of synapses while affecting the thalamus and hypothalamus. At the same time, the drug causes muscle relaxation by inhibiting the synapses in the spinal cord leading from the muscles to the brain
Side effects of diazepam
Diazepam has several side effects besides its potential for abuse and addiction. Those who take the drug often experience:
- An even calmness
The calmness is partially due to the drug's action on the nervous system, and partially due to a loss of co-ordination and motor control from overly relaxed muscles.
After taking the drug for a period of time, severe psychological disturbances can occur. Paradoxically, these side effects are some of the same ones for which it was prescribed in the first place.
The user may begin to feel anxious and lose sleep. In some cases, hallucinations can occur. The muscles no longer relax, but become spastic. Mood swings are frequent and extreme.
Addiction to diazepam
Diazepam addiction can develop rapidly. Many people who are legitimately prescribed the drug do not even realise they are addicted until it is too late.
Other people take the drug recreationally, but they erroneously believe they can control their use of it. Some abusers use the drug to increase the effects of other drugs. This can lead to overdose and death.
Those who try to stop using Valium after they are addicted find themselves experiencing powerful withdrawal symptoms.
- The first symptoms are profuse sweating, muscle cramps, and anxiety
- The cramps give way to tremors or convulsions
- As the withdrawal hits harder, anxiety may turn to panic
- It may become impossible to sleep and blood pressure rises
Treatment for diazepam addiction
Because Valium causes physical dependency and severe withdrawal symptoms, it can be impossible to stop using the drug without help.
Public and government-run detox centres do not always provide the best environment and personnel to treat the addiction.
The best detox centres are private rehabilitation centres. Among the best of these is Life Works.