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Valium Abuse

Valium abuse depresses the nervous system and is known to be both physically and psychologically addicting. Tolerance to Valium abuse can be built quickly and those who become addicted may find it very difficult to discontinue use. Those who intentionally engage in Valium abuse also tend to have other substance abuse problems. In fact, Valium is often used to offset the high achieved from another drug or to diminish the adverse effects of other drugs. Even legitimate use however, carries a risk of addiction and dependence.

When someone is abusing drugs such as Valium, there are few general warning signs that point to the problem:

  • Does the person feel like they need to have the Drug regularly, every day or more than every day?
  • Do they make sure they have a steady supply of their Drug on hand?
  • Maybe they want to stop, but they just can't.
  • Because they can't stop, they will do things they normally would not do to get the drugs.
  • Do they need the Drug to function normally?
  • Are they willing to do something dangerous while on the drug, like operating a motor vehicle, or some kind of equipment that can cause bodily harm?

Diazepam (trade name Valium) has been on the market since 1963, widely used as a muscle relaxant and to relieve anxiety or insomnia. It is a benzodiazepine, acting as a depressant upon the central nervous system. When taken over time, users build up a tolerance to it, so that its effects can only be achieved by taking more and more of the drug. By some estimates, 50% of patients taking Valium for 6 months or longer, even at prescribed doses, will develop a physical dependence.

Dependency manifests in withdrawal symptoms like anxiety, abdominal cramps, dizziness, insomnia, vomiting, heart palpitations, and a host of other physical symptoms which can occur after only a few days of repeated use. Worse, Valium abuse also can cause emotional dependency, resulting in users craving the drug for its euphoric effects rather than for relief of the original problem.

Valium is one of a number of prescription drugs currently being diverted from medical use in large quantities to satisfy a black market in illicit drug use. Valium abuse is high on the list of concerns for such diverse federal agencies as the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the Drug Enforcement Agency. Over 1.7 million people had abused prescription drugs in 2006; state by state, the numbers continue to grow.

Valium abuse is listed among the club drugs abused by many high school and college students at rave parties and other venues where young people gather. Easily obtained from parental medicine cabinets or bought on the street, when crushed and injected or sniffed, it produces an intense "hit." It also, unfortunately, produces mental detachment and motor impairment that can lead to tragedy after the party.

It is often difficult to spot Valium abuse, but when a loved one professes a continuing need for prescriptions it should be a warning signal. Other signs to watch for include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Clumsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Headache or confusion
  • Memory loss
  • Shaking / slurred speech
  • Sleepiness
  • Staggering / trembling
  • Trouble breathing

How do you cope with Valium abuse? If you suspect a loved one has a Valium abuse problem, seek treatment immediately. While withdrawal is seldom fatal in cases of Valium abuse, symptoms are unpleasant enough to prevent an abuser from continuing with a resolve to stop taking the drug. The emotional dependency is usually even worse, inflicting cravings upon the user even after the drug has been eliminated from his or her body.

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