While opioids have been a major problem in recent years, benzodiazepines remain the most-prescribed of all controlled pharmaceutical substances, meaning that there are far more benzodiazepines abused than there are prescription painkillers abused today. Among those benzodiazepines, Valium was one of the first and remains an incredibly popular, widely-abused benzodiazepine. Since this drug is dangerous in its own unique ways, it’s important for us to be knowledgeable about Valium, including what the drug actually is and why it’s such a dangerous drug.
What is Valium?
While there are many benzodiazepines, Valium is surely one of the most popular. Also known by it’s technical name diazepam, Valium is, like most other benzodiazepines, intended to treat conditions involving anxiety. However, there have been some other use cases for Valium, including for use as muscle spasms, insomnia, alcohol withdrawal symptoms, and just a few others. Perhaps most importantly, Valium is sometimes prescribed to individuals suffering from conditions that involve seizures, particularly epilepsy. In other words, Valium (or diazepam) is an anxiolytic, a tranquilizer, a sedative, a sleep aid, and an anti-seizure medication.
Part of the legacy of Valium is that it was one of the very first benzodiazepines. Having been launched in the 1960s, Valium quickly became the drug that was prescribed for almost any type of ailment or symptom; anyone who struggled with the ins and outs of daily life would be prescribed Valium, which would help them to cope. In fact, the drug quickly became known as “mother’s little helper” because more than 60 percent of individuals who were prescribed Valium and who used it were women.
As a benzodiazepine, Valium affects the central nervous system in a very particular way. Specifically, it acts as a depressant with neurological interactions that are very similar to alcohol. In the brain, a neurochemical known as GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) is produced and/or released in the brain during times of great stress, anxiety, and trauma; the purpose of GABA is to help individuals become more calm in these instances. When a person takes Valium, it boosts the amount of GABA in the brain, artificially increasing the individual’s ability to feel calm and relaxed. Again, this is quite similar to how alcohol affects the brain, which is why Valium — and benzodiazepines in general — is considered to be as addictive and dangerous as alcohol.
What Valium is so Dangerous
There are a number of reasons why Valium is such a dangerous drug. First, there’s the fact that the drug alters the amount and functioning of an important neurochemical in the brain, GABA. When an individual’s brain becomes used to the frequent elevation of GABA, the brain stops producing its own GABA and, instead, comes to rely on the Valium as the primary or sole source of GABA; however, if the individual is unable to obtain or consume Valium, the brain experiences a mass GABA deficit, which is known to be incredibly dangerous. The effects of a major GABA deficiency can be catastrophic, causing seizures, coma, and possibly even death.
Another reason why Valium is so dangerous is because it’s proven to be one of a few drugs that’s often mixed with other substances. What makes this a bad situation is that Valium is already quite dangerous when abused on its own. Although Valium is considered a relatively mild benzodiazepine among all benzodiazepines, the drug can have extremely powerful interactions with other substances. When it’s taken according to the instructions provided by a doctor, physician, or therapist, Valium is a safe drug that’s effective for its intended uses with very low risk of harmful side effects. However, the dangers of Valium become quite immense when it’s taken concurrently with alcoholic beverages, opioid substances (i.e., prescription painkillers), street opiates (i.e., heroin), other tranquilizers or sedatives (i.e., Xanax, Ativan), sleep medications, barbiturates, cocaine, methamphetamine, and numerous other drugs.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, those who have already had substance abuse problems with other substances, particularly opioids and alcohol, are especially likely to develop addictions to Valium compared to the general population. In fact, a large number of those individuals who are addicted to Valium and receiving treatment for Valium addiction were abusing Valium alongside other substances.
It’s become quite common for individuals suffering from alcoholism to self-administer Valium so that they can avoid or delay the symptoms of alcoholic withdrawal. In some medical detoxification programs, Valium is prescribed to help alcoholics avoid the more serious effects of alcohol withdrawal syndrome, particularly seizures and the agitation associated with the condition; however, it is quite dangerous — not to mention illegal — for anyone to take Valium without a doctor’s prescription. In fact, the only safe and effective way for a person to stop taking alcohol, Valium, or one of many other benzodiazepines is to seek a professional program that offers intense clinical care and monitoring.
Overcoming Valium Addiction at Malvern Institute
While there are many benzodiazepines that are prone to abuse, Valium has proven to be particularly problematic due to the tendency people have to abuse the drug concurrently with other drugs. In other words, Valium is often mixed with other substances, making them even more deadly. Unfortunately, this has resulted in even more individuals becoming addicted to Valium with there being a high need for Valium addiction treatment. That’s where Malvern Institute comes in.
The Malvern Model of Care is our own, unique form of treatment that guides patients through the entire continuum of care, beginning with detoxification and continuing through induction, inpatient care, and concluding with outpatient treatment. The idea is to provide the resources that an individual needs at each respective stage of the Valium addiction recovery process. If you would like to learn more about Valium addiction treatment at Malvern Institute, or for answers to any other questions you may have, please contact us anytime at 610.MALVERN (610.625.8376).