Cirque Lodge > Blog > Addiction > Signs of Valium Addiction

Valium is a prescription medication used to treat seizures, muscle spasms, and anxiety. It is a benzodiazepine that works by depressing the central nervous system.

Abuse of prescription drugs is on the rise with 4.8m people in the US reporting that they had misused benzodiazepines in the last year when asked in 2020.

Abusing Valium can lead to addiction as the longer you use it, the more likely you are to develop dependency.

Knowing how to recognize Valium addiction can help you understand if you or a loved one has a substance abuse problem. From there you can decide if you would like to receive substance abuse treatment.

What is Valium?

Valium is a brand name for the benzodiazepine diazepam. Diazepam works by increasing gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) activity in the brain which reduces neuronal excitation. This causes depression of the central nervous system causing a calming and sedative effect.

Valium is used to treat anxiety, seizures, alcohol withdrawal symptoms, and muscle spasms. It is also used to help you relax before an operation. It is one of the most frequently prescribed medications in the world.

Valium can be administered orally, intravenously, intramuscularly, rectally, or with a nasal spray.

Valium Abuse

Prescription drug abuse is defined as using a prescription drug in a way that was not prescribed by your doctor. This includes taking:

  • more frequent doses than prescribed
  • larger doses than prescribed
  • someone else's prescription
  • in a different way than prescribed e.g., snorting when prescribed as a pill

Valium is a Schedule IV controlled substance which means that it has a low potential for abuse compared with Schedule III substances. These are said to have the potential to lead to moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence.

Despite this, there is still a considerable risk for addiction and Schedule IV substances are among the most frequently abused prescription drugs.

Using Valium for longer than four weeks produces a high risk of developing physiological and physical dependence which is where the body thinks that it cannot function normally without the drug and you experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking it. This can develop into addiction.

Symptoms of Valium Abuse

Understanding the symptoms of Valium abuse can help you understand if you or a loved one has a substance abuse problem.

Identifying these signs before addiction develops could make seeking help and the treatment process easier.

Physical Symptoms of Valium Use

  • Drowsiness
  • Change in appetite leading to weight gain or loss
  • Muscular weakness
  • Poor concentration and memory
  • Dizziness
  • Emotional blunting
  • Constipation and urination problems

Psychological Symptoms of Valium Use

  • Relaxation
  • Euphoria
  • Confusion
  • Depression


Valium is primarily prescribed for treating anxiety, which usually co-occurs with depression. Since it does not have antidepressant properties and causes depression of the nervous system, this could exacerbate depression, suicidal behavior, and ideation.

There is an especially high risk of this if you have alcohol or opioid dependence.

Valium Addiction

The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that, unlike abuse, addiction is a chronic disease that is very difficult to control. It leads to compulsively seeking out and using the drug.

While it is important to understand signs of abuse so that you can deal with things earlier if wanted, recognizing signs of addiction is important so that you can look for the right support.

Behavioral Signs of Valium Addiction

  • Going to more than one doctor for prescriptions i.e., doctor shopping
  • Obsession with getting your next dose
  • Lack of control over Valium use
  • Neglect of personal hygiene and self-care
  • Loss of interest in activities and hobbies that were important to you
  • Isolating from family and friends
  • Needing to use more Valium to have the same effect - increased tolerance
  • Lower inhibitions
  • Secrecy

Risk Factors for Addiction

There is a higher risk of abusing Valium if you have particular risk factors. These include:

  • Genetics - Particular genetics can predispose you to addiction; it is thought that up to half of your risk of addiction is based on genetics.
  • Mental disorders - Known as dual diagnosis, you have an increased risk of addiction if you have an underlying and especially untreated mental health condition. This might be because people self-medicate.
  • Childhood neglect or abuse
  • Exposure to drugs - People taking drugs in your environment can make it easier to start taking drugs and more difficult to stop.
  • Previous substance abuse such as alcohol addiction

Valium Overdose

The amount of Valium you have to take in order to overdose varies from person to person. It depends on factors such as weight, tolerance, gender, and metabolism.

It is possible to have a fatal overdose with Valium. In 2020, around 12,290 people died from an overdose involving benzodiazepines.

Signs of Valium Overdose

  • Bluish lips and fingernails
  • Blurred vision
  • Slurred speech
  • Respiratory depression
  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Rash
  • Tremor
  • Uncoordinated movement

Valium Withdrawal Symptoms

Like with quitting other drugs, the first stage of quitting Valium is detox.

Detoxing is difficult because once dependency occurs, the body and brain need the drug to feel normal. When the drug is not present, you experience symptoms of withdrawal.

Physical Valium Withdrawal Symptoms

  • Tremors
  • Muscle pain and aches
  • Hypersensitivity
  • Sensations including pins and needles, and tinnitus
  • Seizures
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headache
  • Insomnia
  • Restlessness
  • Sweating

Cognitive and Psychological Valium Withdrawal Symptoms

  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia
  • Delirium
  • Derealization and depersonalization
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Psychosis
  • Depression
  • Memory problems
  • Agitation
  • Anxiety and panic attacks
  • Confusion

You are more likely to have severe withdrawal symptoms if you have been using Valium for a long period of time.

Cognitive problems may continue for six months or longer.

Addiction Treatment

It is generally recommended to seek addiction treatment from addiction treatment centers. This is because you can get dedicated support to help you through unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, reducing the chances of relapse. You will also receive support after detox to help with any long-term psychological symptoms of Valium addiction.

Quitting Valium cold turkey is especially not advised as you might experience life-threatening withdrawal symptoms if you stop abruptly. Instead, it is recommended to taper off the drug. This is where you reduce the dose of Valium until you are no longer taking any at all. This is the technique used at treatment centers.

As mentioned, cognitive problems can continue for months after detoxing. It is therefore important to get continued psychological support following detox. This helps to reduce the risk of relapse and self-harm.

Contact Us

At Cirque Lodge, we understand that seeking substance abuse treatment can be very difficult. We are a private and exclusive treatment center offering an enriching rehabilitation experience in nature.

Our staff will make sure that you are as comfortable as possible during a medically supervised detox.

We use a combination of techniques including:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy - Identify thought and behavioral patterns that exacerbate addiction so you can build skills to overcome them.
  • Experiential therapy - Use skills you learn in support sessions in different activities; this helps you to regain self-esteem and practice behaviors that lead to long-term recovery.
  • Equine therapy - Learn how to communicate honestly. Horses are sensitive to your body language and feelings. They help you to communicate honesty as you need to be honest to gain the trust of a horse.
  • Outdoor activities - high ropes course, fitness and exercise

If you would like more information about our treatment process, please visit our website or call us at (800) 582-0709.

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