Valium is a derivative of benzodiazepine. Manufactured by Roche, the well known generic name for Valium is diazepam. Other trade names for diazepam include Ativan, Alcelam, Alplax, Alpram, Alprax, Alprazolam Intensol, Alzolam, Anpress, Ansiopax, Pharnax Prinox Ralozam, Tafil, Trankimazin, Tricalma, Zacetin, Zanapam, Zenax, Zolarem, Zoldac, Zoldax and Zotran. On the street, Valium is known as candy, downers, sleeping pills and tranks. It is a Schedule IV drug that is prescribed for anxiety disorders and the short-term relief of the symptoms of anxiety.

Diazepam possesses anxiolytic, anticonvulsant, skeletal muscle relaxant, amnestic and sedative properties. It is also used to relieve the symptoms of acute alcohol withdrawal, skeletal muscle spasm, control involuntary movement of the hands, to relax tight muscles and when combined with other medications, to treat convulsive disorders such as epilepsy. It is also used before certain medical procedures (such as endoscopies) to reduce tension and anxiety, and in some procedures to induce amnesia.

Valium comes as a tablet, extended-release (long-acting) capsule, and concentrate (liquid) to take by mouth. Valium tablets are flat-faced and scored with a V-shaped perforation and beveled edges. It is prescribed in 2mg, 5mg, and 10mg tablet strengths.

Diazepam (the generic name for Valium) is listed as a core medicine in the World Health Organization's (WHO) "Essential Drugs List." The drug is used to treat a wide range of conditions and is one of the most frequently administered and prescribed benzodiazepines. Diazepam was the second benzodiazepine developed by Leo Sterbach, and was approved for use in 1963. It is five times more potent than its predecessor, chlordiazepoxide, and quickly surpassed it in terms of sales.

Valium (diazepam) is not used recreationally as much as alprazolam or flunitrazepam. The drug is often found as an adulterant in heroin, possibly because diazepam greatly amplifies the effects of opioids. In some instances, diazepam is used by stimulant abusers to "come down" and induce sleep and also by LSD users (or those taking other hallucinogens) to help ease their LSD experience without unpleasant after-effects.

Using valium can lead to physiological tolerance, and psychological and/or physical dependence. At a particularly high risk for misuse, abuse and dependence are:

  • Individuals with a history of alcohol or drug abuse/dependence
  • Emotionally unstable patients
  • Those with severe personality disorders, such as Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)
  • Persons with chronic pain or other physical disorders

These patients being treated with Valium should be monitored very closely during therapy for signs of abuse and dependence development. Treatment should be discontinued if these signs are observed. Long-term therapy in these individuals is not recommended.

Valium addiction occurs on both physical and psychological levels. Physical Valium addiction usually comes first and many have it happen to them when they follow a doctor's prescription. Even if the person does everything exactly right, their body can begin to make adjustments according to the expected, constant level of Valium that they put into it.

Additionally, their body will soon begin to build a tolerance to the drug, requiring them to take more and more in order to feel the same effects they felt initially (i.e., pain relief, relaxation, et cetera). When this tolerance develops, they may begin to feel ill if they miss a Valium dose or try to stop taking the drug. This illness is defined as withdrawal or detox and it is a hallmark of Valium addiction.

It is possible to become psychologically dependent upon Valium first, but it usually follows physical addiction. In this case, even though they know it's not yet time to take the next dose or that they shouldn't take more than the doctor prescribed, they cannot stop craving and wanting more Valium. Even after physical addiction to Valium is treated, the psychological addiction to Valium is often a persistent issue that requires continued care and treatment.

What are the Dangers of Taking Valium?

Valium is commonly used in the treatment of anxiety disorders. It can also be used to relieve muscle pains and the symptoms of anxiety. A patient can be prescribed the drug after withdrawing from alcohol consumption. It is also used in treating seizures and epileptic. This drug can help deal with alcohol withdraw symptoms such as hallucinations, agitation, body tremors and paranoia. Valium also known as diazepam belongs to the group of drugs known as benzodiazepines. It affects the chemicals in the brain that get imbalanced causing anxiety.

For those suffering from sleep apnea, asthma, breathing problems, glaucoma and kidney disease, you should consult your doctor before taking the drug. It is also not suitable for those who have a history of drug and alcohol addiction or those who get suicidal thoughts. The drug should not be taken together with alcohol because the effect can be overwhelming. For pregnant women and children, valium is not recommended. Even nursing mothers should not take it because it can be passed on to the nursing baby. You should never self prescribe the drug and always follow the doctor's prescription. Many women who have a lot of responsibilities find the drug quite useful. With time, this can be a problem.

Valium Side Effects

Some of the most common side effects of over using the drug are hallucinations, memory loss, seizures, tremors, difficulty breathing, suicidal thoughts, depression, less fear of danger and confusion.

Less serious side effects include hives, body swellings, tiredness, dizziness, nausea, itching, general body weakness, constipation and feeling irritable. Immediately you start experiencing the side effects you should stop using the drug and inform your doctor about it.

Valium Addiction

Valium should be used for a short period of time. This should not be more than 3 months. If used for a period of more than 6 months, dependence to the drug can become a problem. Most who get addicted to valium do it unintentionally. Most do not even realize that they are addicted to the drug until someone else points it out. Sometimes, the drug can be prescribed for a long period of time causing the addiction.

For those who abuse drugs, valium is used together with other street drugs to heighten the 'high' they get from the drugs. Those who abuse it may crush it, inject it into the body or snort it.

Why is Valium Addiction on the Rise?

Over the years, the economic decline has led to increased problems for many people. More people have to take up two or three jobs at the same time. More women find it hard to hold together a functional home and keep an 8-hour job. This leads to a lot of anxiety that may need some form of medication. Valium may be the preferred choice because it does not need a prescription and it works fast in alleviating the symptoms of anxiety. As the person continues using the drug, the body becomes used to it and the urge to increase the dosage cannot be avoided.

How Detect an Addiction

Although it is rare for an addict to realize this on his own, there are things that can let you know if a person is addicted to valium or not. Here are some of the things you should look out for.

-Increased dosage

If someone is taking more than what the doctor prescribed or is using it long after the period recommended by the doctor, this can be a sign of addiction.

-Using valium even when working.

This drug should not be used when one is working especially when operating heavy machinery. One should not mix it with alcohol.

-Excess worry over not getting enough of the drug

When the person has not taken the drug, they may not function normally or they may unnecessarily worry over not getting the drug or finishing their dose. One may also portray unusual behavior when using the drug.

How to Treat an Addiction

Once addicted to valium, it may take sometime to treat and completely get rid of the addiction. When one suddenly stops using it, severe withdraw symptoms such as seizures, stomach cramps, sweating, high blood pressure, insomnia, digestive problems and depression may be felt. At this point, one needs medical intervention to help clean valium from the body in a safe way. Detoxing on your own can be very risky. The withdraw symptoms can sometimes be life threatening.