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Is Valium a Controlled Substance?
When the benzodiazepine Valium was first introduced in 1963, it was hailed as a much safer alternative to barbiturates. Treatment of anxiety disorder and other conditions with barbiturates had been plagued with the many risks associated with powerful sedatives. However, it wasn’t long before the dangers of benzodiazepines surfaced. So, is Valium a narcotic? While benzos like Valium may have some traits in common with narcotics, it is not. Read on to learn more about Valium and how to break free from its grip.
What is Valium?
Valium, or diazepam, is a sedative in the benzodiazepine family of drugs. It has been widely prescribed over the decades for the treatment of anxiety disorder, restless leg syndrome, muscle spasms and tightness, and insomnia. Valium is also used as a prelude to surgery, as it helps patients relax before the procedure. In addition, those undergoing alcohol detox are prescribed Valium to reduce the risks of seizure. It slows the central nervous system down and causes the brain to secrete GABA, causing a sense of relaxation and calm.
What Are the Risks of Valium?
Like all benzos, Valium has a high risk for addiction or abuse. The pleasant effects that are experienced become imprinted in the brain’s reward network. This causes the person to desire the same effects over and over again, which can cause dependency or addiction. Once the brain has adapted to the daily dosing of Valium, it is hard to cut back or quit the drug. After dependency has formed, stopping Valium will cause withdrawal symptoms to emerge, which can lead to addiction. A cycle evolves that includes cravings, taking the drug, and then suffering from withdrawal symptoms, which prompts the next dose. Some may wonder if Valium is a narcotic because it is so addictive, but it is not. Narcotics are actually in the opioid class of drugs called analgesics that help manage pain. Besides the risk of addiction forming, Valium use can lead to injuries. This is because the effects of the drug cause the person to feel sleepy, dizzy, and lose coordination. Thus, Valium use, alone or with alcohol, can lead to falls and auto accidents.
Signs of Valium Addiction
Valium is not intended for long-term use because of its highly addictive profile. However, as with all benzos, some people can become addicted to the drug after just a few weeks. Some of the signs of a Valium addiction include:
- Being obsessed with having enough Valium on hand.
- You try to cut back on the drug but can’t, even though you want to.
- You plan your day around getting, taking, and recovering from the Valium.
- You doctor shop to get more Valium.
- You have decreased libido.
- You notice you are more forgetful.
- You avoid friends and family members.
- You keep taking Valium even though it is causing problems in your life.
- You may steal the drug from friends and family members.
- You have withdrawal symptoms when Valium effects wear off.
The Danger of Mixing Valium and Alcohol
It isn’t hard to see how risky it might be to be taking Valium while also using alcohol. Some people may mix these two substances to increase the sedating effects of each. Others may not be concerned and will have a drink while the Valium is in their system. Both of these scenarios can cause harmful effects. Because both substances are central nervous system depressants, there could be dangerous effects if used together. These include:
- Slows the heart rate too much.
- Slows the breathing rate too much.
- Affects brain and cognitive functioning
- Causes brain damage
- Causes coma
- May cause death (overdose)
What to Expect in Valium Withdrawal
To safely quit taking Valium, you must be under a doctor’s care during detox and withdrawal. There is a good reason for this. Benzos are very hard to withdraw from, as severe symptoms can emerge that can even be life-threatening. Because of this risk, a doctor will assign a tapering schedule that helps you slowly ease off the drug. As you proceed through the detox, these are the common withdrawal symptoms you may have:
- Elevated blood pressure.
- Increased heart rate.
- Hand tremors.
- Mood swings.
- Panic attacks.
- Hand tremors.
- Nausea and/or vomiting.
- Stomach cramping
- Suicidal thoughts.
While detox can be unpleasant, your symptoms will be closely monitored and medications provided to ease any discomfort.
Rehabilitation Follows Detox
Once you complete the detox and withdrawal, you will begin rehab. The purpose of rehab is to repair the brain after Valium use altered or rewired it and learn new behavior patterns. Here is what to expect in treatment:
- Talk Therapy. These one-on-one sessions allow you to delve into the issues that may be factored into Valium addiction. Therapies like CBT and DBT can help you make changes in the way you react to stressful situations.
- Group Sessions. Group therapy sessions are a good way to share with others and also gain peer support while in treatment. The counselor provides topics for the group to discuss and share that pertain to recovery.
- 12-Step. The themes of the 12-Step Program are woven into the rehab program at most treatment centers. These benchmarks help you slowly but surely change your life for the better.
- Holistic. There are several holistic methods that can help you ease anxiety without needing to take Valium. These include yoga, meditation, deep breathing techniques, mindfulness, and massage.
- Education. Classes help you learn about how Valium affects the brain and causes addiction, and also how to avoid a relapse.
- Exercise and nutrition. Treatment also includes a focus on improving your lifestyle habits, which can help with your anxiety. Being active is good for mental and physical health, as is eating a healthy diet.
You may have wondered, “Is Valium a narcotic” because you had heard or experienced how addictive it is. While it is not a narcotic, this drug can also lead to addiction. If you are struggling with a Valium use disorder, reach out for help today.
LifeSync Malibu Offers Residential Detox and Rehabilitation for Valium Addiction
LifeSync Malibu can help you restore brain health after a Valium use disorder has altered the brain pathways. Recovery from Valium addiction is absolutely possible so do not hesitate to reach out to us at (866) 491-4426.