Why do people crack open a beer bottle or pop the cork on a bottle of wine in the evenings? The reasons are varied, but often, they have to do with relaxation. Alcohol seems to soothe an overactive mind, allowing people to forget about their troubles and transition from a busy work day into an evening filled with relaxation and family. Alcohol can have some nasty side effects, however, including a tendency to produce hangovers and a telltale scent that can alert others to the presence of something illicit.
Those who want the relaxation of alcohol without some of those side effects may be tempted to dabble in the use and abuse of Valium (also known by the generic name diazepam). This substance isn’t necessarily more difficult to obtain, when compared to alcohol, and it can bring about some of the same sensations that people crave. Unfortunately, recreational use of Valium has also been associated with very serious cases of addiction that can be difficult to deal with.
Valium is a benzodiazepine medication that’s provided to people who have a valid prescription. Typically, these people have disorders that manifest with feelings of anxiety. Without some kind of assistance, they may feel nervous and on edge almost every single minute of every single day. With medications, however, they can reduce the unusual electrical activity that’s lighting up their brain cells, and with that help, they may feel calmer and much more in control.
There are a number of different medications that can treat anxiety disorders. But studies quoted in a comprehensive article in the Psychiatric Times suggest that some forms of treatment for anxiety take a long time to become effective. Users must take several doses over a long period in order for the substances to build up to a level in which they can deliver relief. Valium and other benzodiazepines can take hold much faster, and that can allow people to get better much more rapidly.
For people who have anxiety disorders, these medications can be simply helpful. Taking the medications for a few weeks allows them the kind of clarity they may need to participate in intensive therapies and really learn how to control their thoughts. According to an article in the American Journal on Addictions, there’s little evidence that suggests that people who take the drugs for anxiety for a short period of time under the direction of a doctor will develop a subsequent addiction. It’s only when people get creative and take Valium in unusual ways or for unusual purposes that things move into the danger zone.
How Addictions Develop
Valium may slow down electrical signals in the brain, but the drug also boosts feelings of goodwill and euphoria. People who take the drug, particularly those who take very large doses of the substance, report feeling:
- At peace with the world
They can become somewhat obsessed with this sensation of relaxation and joy, and they can become desperate to attain that sensation, no matter the cost. Sometimes, people become so very eager to feel a sense of relaxation that they begin to mix and match Valium with other sedating substances, including alcohol and prescription painkillers. Blending drugs like this might very well make people feel relaxed, but it can also be deadly. Combining sedative substances means slowing the brain down to such a degree that vital functions, including breathing, may stop completely. It’s a sad fact that an addiction like this can be deadly.
But even those people who don’t lose their lives can suffer in other ways. With each little hit of Valium a person takes, the brain is amended. Signals of pleasure are no longer produced in the absence of the drug, and brain cells become accustomed to functioning at a slow and steady pace. In time, these changes can become so pronounced that people actually feel ill without access to Valium. Their brain cells seem to be moving too rapidly, leading to a sensation of anxiety and nervousness. Left untreated, these symptoms can progress to such a degree that people develop seizures and hallucinations. It’s a terrible consequence of addiction, and it can be so frightening that people who move through it just once become convinced that they simply can never get sober. They’re too frightened to try.
A Common Problem
People who have addictions like this might be much too ashamed to discuss their concerns openly, even with the people they love. As a result, they may come to believe that they are the only people alive with this kind of addiction issue to Valium, and that no one could possibly understand what they’re going through and what they want from the future. In reality, there may be dozens of people all around them who are going through much the same thing.
Valium is growing in popularity as a substance of abuse, according to an article produced by The Guardian, and it’s even moving into different markets. In the past, older women tended to develop addictions to the substance, but now, younger users of cocaine seem to be adding Valium into the mix. Older people aren’t immune to the allure of Valium, however, as an article produced by the Daily Mail suggests that women are still being given Valium by their doctors and developing decades-long addictions that they fuel with multiple visits to multiple different doctors.
While it’s common for people to discuss the dangers of illicit drugs like cocaine or heroin, and it might even be common in some circles to discuss the dangers of alcoholism, people who develop a compulsive need to use Valium might not be so likely to discuss their concerns aloud. But if they did, as these articles make clear, they might finally see that addictions really are common and that they can be conquered.
How Treatment Helps
In an addiction treatment program, people are encouraged to change the way they think, and in so doing, they might also change the way in which they act. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is often the cornerstone of a healing program when an addiction to Valium is in play. Therapists help their patients to delineate the thoughts and behaviors that define the moments before they take a Valium pill. Perhaps, as they contemplate taking Valium, they think about:
- Being bored
- Feeling nervous
- Experiencing embarrassment
- Sensing stress
They might be more tempted to use when they’re alone and have no distractions, or they might find that they’re more likely to use when they’re in the midst of a social situation. Going to parties might make them more likely to use, or perhaps workplace worries spark the need for a pill. The more detailed these people can be about their triggers, the more they can practice and learn in therapy. With each session, they’ll develop the skills they need to combat these triggers without lapsing back into drugs.
In an article in the journal Current Psychiatry, researchers suggest that modern addiction therapy attempts to determine how much patients might want to change right now, and what they might need to think about in order to become more committed to changing their lives in the future. This stages-of-change model means that addiction programs tend to accept patients as they are now, while helping them to come to a deeper understanding of how life might be different if they left Valium behind. Therapy is individualized, based on a patient’s willingness to work for change. Rather than using a one-size-fits-all model, therapists attempt to tailor their responses based on the needs of their patients.
In most cases, formal work with a therapist is augmented by work a patient does with peers in support group meetings. By spending time in support groups with people who have their own addictions, the sense of isolation is reduced, and they may learn lessons from their peers that they simply may not be able to learn from a licensed professional. For example, in therapy sessions, people with Valium addictions may learn all about how they should meditate and exercise to reduce stress, rather than leaning on pills. In group meetings, however, these people may meet other peers who have actually used these techniques in their own lives, and they might see the results of that work in a real and concrete way that eludes them in therapy. Their peers become their role models, and the work they do may also inspire others and motivate them to stay on track.
It’s not easy to recover from a Valium addiction, and it’s common for people who have these concerns to spend months in intensive therapies, and then spend months more in some type of follow-up care. Some people continue to spend time in support group meetings for years or even for the rest of life. But all of this hard work really can pay off, as people who commit to healing and take the lessons of rehab to heart really can stop abusing Valium, and they can put together a life that’s both meaningful and rewarding.
Would you like to get started? Please call us at Black Bear Lodge. We can provide you with a scientifically proven form of therapy, augmented by therapies that can nurture your soul and heal your spirit. All of your work will take place in our beautifully appointed facility, surrounded by the majesty of mountain foothills. It’s an experience you may never forget, and it might be just the best way for you to heal. Please call us at 706-914-2327 and we’ll explain how the enrollment process works. We look forward to hearing from you.