Diazepam belongs to a category of drugs called benzodiazepines*. Marketed under the brand name Valium in the United States, it is prescribed to treat a variety of medical conditions, including anxiety, seizures, muscle spasms, insomnia, alcohol withdrawal, restless leg syndrome and Meniere's disease. Valium is known to cause physical and psychological dependence, and a person who misuses this drug may need addiction treatment to stop using it.
The Dangers of Valium Abuse
Valium is a central nervous system depressant that increases the activity of the GABA neurotransmitter in the brain, which has a calming effect. The drug can induce feelings of euphoria, reduce anxiety and tension and cause sedation. Diazepam is commonly abused by people who misuse multiple drugs, particularly alcoholics and heroin addicts. A poly-drug user who participates in diazepam addiction treatment typically needs to be treated for co-occurring addictions to other substances. Abuse of Valium can lead to drug tolerance. As the body gets used to the drug, the person must increase the dosage amount to achieve the same effect. This can lead to the development of physical dependence where the person is unable to stop using the drug without experiencing withdrawal symptoms. Psychological addiction may also occur and the person may feel they are unable to function properly without taking the drug. Long-term use of diazepam can lead to a decreased cognitive function that persists long after use of the drug has ceased. The medication may also cause amnesia, where the person is unable to remember events that occurred after taking the drug. Diazepam and other benzodiazepine drugs inhibit the brain's ability to store new memories. Because of this effect, these drugs are frequently used to commit sex crimes. Diazepam reduces inhibitions, and a user may engage in acts they would not do when sober. The person may engage in irresponsible sexual activity that could lead to an unwanted pregnancy or the contraction of a sexually transmitted disease. Diazepam can be injected intravenously, and the person may share a needle with someone who is infected with HIV or AIDS. People with a diazepam addiction may also drive while intoxicated and cause an accident.
Can You Overdose on Valium?
Drug tolerance to diazepam increases the risk of an overdose because the person has to take more of the drug to induce the same high. An overdose of diazepam is potentially fatal, especially if it is taken with other drugs such as alcohol. Signs of Valium overdose include drowsiness, mental confusion, impaired motor function, dizziness, low blood pressure, and coma. A person who overdoses on diazepam requires immediate medical attention and should be taken to an emergency medical facility. After they have recovered from the overdose, the person is advised to obtain Valium addiction treatment.