For millions of Americans who take Valium, or diazepam, under a doctor’s supervision, this medication can be a lifesaver. But for those who abuse the drug, Valium presents severe health risks. Valium is a central nervous system depressant, which suppresses brain activity in order to soothe anxiety, prevent seizures or relieve muscle spasms. In the process of slowing down electrical activity in the brain, Valium also slows down vital functions like respiration. Taking too much Valium, or using the drug inappropriately, can cause breathing difficulties, excessive sedation, confusion, and amnesia. And because Valium is addictive, abusing this potent tranquilizer can make you physically and psychologically dependent on its chemical properties.
Why Is Too Much Valium Dangerous?
Like other drugs in the benzodiazepine family, Valium is classified as an anxiolytic, an anticonvulsant, and an antispasmodic drug. Because Valium relaxes the muscles while slowing activity in the central nervous system, abusing the drug can make you confused, forgetful, drowsy and uncoordinated. The Merck Manual cautions that because Valium can cause physical and cognitive impairment, users should avoid tasks that require mental alertness, like driving or operating dangerous equipment when taking the drug.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, taking even a therapeutic dose of Valium can cause a significant decline in your ability to perform certain tasks. Drivers under the influence of Valium have slower reaction times, slower braking times, and are less focused than drug-free drivers.1 When you take a high dose of Valium, you may experience a wide range of adverse effects, including:
- Decreased hand-eye coordination
- Slow reflexes2
Users who take high doses of Valium on a regular basis are likely to become chemically dependent. Tolerance to diazepam — or the need for higher doses to achieve the same results — can begin in as little as one or two weeks. Because quitting Valium can cause unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety, insomnia, agitation, nausea or muscle pain, recreational users often find it hard to stop on their own.
How Does Valium Abuse Affect Me Over Time?
Long-term Valium abuse takes a toll on your body and mind. Chronic, heavy users often show signs of cognitive impairment, such as memory loss, learning problems and difficulties with problem-solving. Although Valium is prescribed to relieve the symptoms of anxiety, abusing this drug can eventually make you more anxious and restless. Diazepam use has also been linked to increased rates of depression and suicidal thinking.3
Over time, Valium abuse can lead to sleep disturbances, weight changes, urinary problems, constipation, and sexual dysfunction. The National Library of Medicine lists diazepam as one of the psychiatric medications that can cause impotence in men.
Finding Help for Valium Abuse
Valium withdrawal symptoms can range from uncomfortable to fatal, depending on how much you taken and how long you’ve been abusing the drug. Heavy users may have seizures if they try to stop taking Valium too quickly. Medically supervised detox centers offer a safe, structured environment for benzodiazepine withdrawal, including a gradual dose reduction to wean you off the drug.
But recovering from Valium abuse isn’t just about clearing toxins from your body. To achieve a full recovery, you need a holistic Valium addiction treatment program that offers intensive psychotherapy, family counseling, group support, and alternative therapeutic modalities. At Black Bear Lodge, we provide comprehensive recovery services in a serene, forested setting in the mountains of northern Georgia. Call us at 706-914-2327 for support and to speak to an admissions coordinator about treatment options.
1 “Human Performance Drug Fact Sheet.” National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Pp. 29-33. Accessed Apr. 9, 2018.
2 “Common Side Effects of Valium (Diazepam Tablets) Drug Center.” RxList, Apr. 2018.
3 “Valium (Diazepam) Drug Side Effects, Interactions, and Medication Information on EMedicineHealth.” EMedicineHealth, Apr. 2018.