Am I Addicted to Valium?

in Detox
Published Oct 9, 2020

You may be asking yourself “Am I addicted to Valium?” Our blog explores the effects of long-term use, misuse, and symptoms of detox and withdrawal. 

 

Prolonged use of Valium can lead to increased tolerance and dependence, causing a person to take more than is clinically indicated in order to feel the same effects. Once dependence occurs, patients experience side effects, some of which are severe. Addiction may occur when users of the drug favor its effects over the consequences of taking an excess of this drug, for example to their home life and relationships. 

 

Symptoms & diagnosis of addiction to Valium

 

Side effects of increased and prolonged Valium use include unsteadiness, shakiness, trembling or other problems with coordination.  In some cases, side effects include: drowsiness, anxiety, confusion, depression, memory loss, insomnia, tremors, and depression. If any of these effects are experienced, a patient should seek medical assistance immediately.

 

Valium detox & withdrawal

Ceasing use of Valium results in a period of adjustment called withdrawal. It can be quite distressing both physically and psychologically, as the body and brain need time to adjust and recover. During this period, a strong support system of medically trained professionals and recovery support is important. Withdrawal from benzodiazepines can be severe, even dangerous, if the drug is stopped too abruptly.

 

How long does Valium withdrawal last?

Valium has a long half-life (from 20 to 100 hours) which depends on the age of the person taking the drug and their liver function. Typically, withdrawal begins within 24 hours of the last dose. Initial symptoms include difficulty sleeping, anxiety, and increased heart rate and blood pressure.

 

The acute phase of withdrawal, known as benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome, is said to last between five and 28 days. The person usually experiences a peak of severity around one to two weeks post-withdrawal, after which symptoms return to a pre-withdrawal phase. In some cases, the person may experience a protracted withdrawal (also known as post-acute withdrawal syndrome or “PAWS,” for short), which lasts for months and sometimes years. 

 

What are the symptoms of Valium withdrawal?

 

Stopping benzodiazepine medications without professional intervention, such as medical detox, can cause a number of unpleasant and prolonged side effects. Because of the nature of benzodiazepines, which alter the brain’s chemistry causing things to slow down, ceasing long-term benzodiazepine use can cause too dramatic a change in brain activity, leading to unpleasant side effects.

 

In addition to the side effects mentioned above, withdrawal symptoms of Valium include:

 

  • Tremor
  • Muscle cramps
  • Vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Confusion
  • Headache
  • Extreme anxiety
  • Tension
  • Restlessness
  • Confusion 
  • Irritability
  • Numbness
  • Hypersensitivity to light
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures

 

Symptoms of protracted withdrawal (PAWS) include:

 

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Perceptual symptoms: ringing in the ears (tinnitus), tingling, numbness and pain in hands and feet
  • Motor symptoms: muscle pain, weakness, tension, painful tremor, shaking attacks, jerks, spasms
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms: nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps

 

Risks of home detox

In this instance, detox is the process of stopping using substance and detoxifying the body at home, without medical intervention. Due to the number of health risks associated with home detox, it is not advised by medical professionals. It can be particularly dangerous to suddenly stop drinking or taking drugs cold turkey, rather than tapering off.

 

Home detox is rarely successful because the side effects of stopping are so unpleasant that the risk of relapse is high.

 

It is strongly advised by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to seek professional intervention, especially if the person has been using substances persistently, to ensure they overcome risks of home detox.

 

“For alcohol, sedative-hypnotic, and opioid withdrawal syndromes, hospitalization or some form of 24-hour medical care is generally the preferred setting for detoxification, based upon the principles of safety and humanitarian concerns.” SAMHSA Detoxification and Substance Abuse Treatment Improvement Protocol, TIP 45

 

Again, there are a number of risks of home detox. This is particularly prevalent with alcohol detox and benzodiazepine detox. Medically-monitored detox centers are a crucial aspect of the recovery process. It ensures that the person is treated safely and reduces the risk of complications that might arise from the detox process. According to SAMHSA, almost 80 percent of professional detoxification uses medication to ease withdrawal symptoms.

Valium addiction treatment 

There are various types of benzodiazepine detox. Depending on the severity of use, a detox is usually recommended. According to medical experts, treatment for any Valium dependence should not discontinue the drug too early and a successful withdrawal strategy should be implemented. Ensuring sufficient medical and therapeutic support and effective withdrawal management reduces the risk of protracted withdrawal. 

 

A medically supervised detox occurs in an inpatient medical detox center or hospital. The benefits of admission are that medically trained professionals are able to closely monitor a person’s progress, administer any medications when necessary, and provide a safe and comfortable environment for the often painful and difficult process of withdrawal.

 

The Gallus Method of Valium detox

Gallus Medical Detox provides the comfort of a residential facility, but with clinical expertise that is far superior to most detox facilities. We offer safe, effective, and personalized treatment. In fact, we are so proud of our proprietary method that we named it The Gallus Method.

 

The key features of Gallus Medical Detox include:

 

  • Individual treatment plans, with a focus on personalized sobriety
  • Psychological, physical, and social assessments
  • IV Therapy Program
  • 24/7 medical supervision
  • Cardiac telemetry and video technology
  • Ongoing adjustments to treatment plans in order to suit our patients’ needs
  • An individual aftercare plan identifying resources and next steps toward a long-term recovery

 

Gallus also offers a unique outpatient benzodiazepine taper support program with medical supervision, physician visits, and individual therapy.

 

We have addiction treatment centers in Arizona and Colorado, with more opening in coming months.

 

Next steps

While detox is usually the first step in recovery, it’s not a cure for addiction. Immediately following detox, behavioral therapy and other addiction treatments should occur while the person is ready to engage in recovery. You might find our blog Vital Steps to Take After Detox helpful. 

 

For more information on benzodiazepine treatment, click here