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The Effects of Valium Use: Side Effects, Short- and Long-Term Effects, and Treatment

What Is Valium Used For?

Valium—a popular sedative-hypnotic prescription drug—has numerous effects on the body, many of which can be dangerous when the drug is misused or abused. Valium (diazepam) is prescribed for sleeplessness, anxiety, muscle spasms, and sometimes for the management of alcohol withdrawal.

Valium is in the class of drugs known as benzodiazepines. Valium and other drugs like it act to potentiate the effects of a neurotransmitter in the central nervous system known as GABA—resulting in the depression of a number of brain processes. It has historically been prescribed in the short term for its anticonvulsant and anti-anxiety properties.

Like many benzodiazepines, Valium has become popular amongst those seeking to get high from its depressant effects. Many abusers of Valium take it combination with alcohol and/or other substances. Abuse occurs when a user:

  • Takes excess doses.
  • Takes more frequent doses than prescribed.
  • Takes it via alternate methods (such as injection or via crushing and snorting Valium to enhance the high).

A marked physical dependency on Valium can result quite quickly when the substance is abused.

valium effects

Credit: CBS

Short-Term Effects of Valium Use

Valium decreases activity in the nervous system and affects the way brain signaling or communication takes place between various brain centers. When a user abuses the drug, they experience a high that includes:

  • Euphoria.
  • Lack of coordination.
  • Feelings of being drunk.

After the Valium high peaks, there can be a period of withdrawal—experienced as a comedown or crash. The mellow feeling begins to disappear as the brain rebounds and speeds up from its drugged state, producing other undesirable effects, such as:

  • Anxiety (sometimes more intense than the original anxiety).
  • Irritation.
  • Fever.
  • Rapid heart rate.
  • Stomach cramps.
  • Depression.
  • Seizures.

Most addicts counteract the crash they experience with more Valium or another drug to slow down the body and produce the sluggish, happy feeling once again.

The danger of continually taking Valium, however, is that the body quickly builds a tolerance which makes it harder and harder to reach the euphoric state with the same amount of Valium, so the user will need to take increasing doses—upping the risk of severe addiction and Valium overdose. The compulsion to take ever-increasing amounts of Valium is one of the signs of addiction.

Valium Side Effects

When it is used properly, Valium does not produce the same effects as it does when it is abused/misused. Valium has side effects with proper use, but these are temporary and should go away after a few standard doses.

Some of the most common side effects of Valium use include:

  • Dry mouth.
  • Decreased respiratory rate.
  • Changes in heart rate/rhythm.
  • Slurred speech.
  • Delayed reflexes.
  • Nausea.
  • Appetite changes.
  • Trouble urinating.
  • Blurred vision.
  • Confusion.
  • Decreased memory consolidation.

Long-Term Effects of Valium Use

Heavy use of Valium over an extended period of time can have powerful effects on the brain and body. These effects can be permanent and, in some cases, life-threatening. The long-term effects of Valium use include:

  • Memory loss.
  • Hallucinations.
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Slowed pulse.
  • Coma.
  • Heart attack.

Valium addiction can also cause social isolation, job loss, and financial difficulties. It can even lead to permanent physical damage from accidents that occur while under the influence of the drug.

Lasting Health Effects of Valium Use

Chronic use or abuse of sedatives such as Valium is associated with:

  • Depression.
  • Aggressive behavior.
  • Cognitive deficits.
  • Psychotic experiences.
  • Further drug abuse.

Valium Dependence

After a relatively short period of time, Valium use can become a Valium addiction. The brain can quickly become dependent on the effects the drug provides.

With increasing use, tolerance builds, meaning that ever-increasing doses of Valium are required for a high. Addiction also takes hold once the user becomes convinced that they need Valium to face the world. Once this happens, the user will begin facing withdrawal whenever use of the drug is abruptly ceased. Learn more about withdrawal symptoms below.

Valium Withdrawal Symptoms

Valium withdrawals are not exclusive to drug addicts; they can be experienced by anyone taking the drug, prescribed or otherwise. Patients who take the drug for a longer period than advised can experience potentially dangerous withdrawals when suddenly ceasing Valium use. Close medical supervision is advised in any benzodiazepine withdrawal situation.

Addicts who experience withdrawal usually do so after prolonged use. Frequent and heavy Valium use can lead to serious withdrawal symptoms, including:

  • Seizures.
  • Anxiety.
  • Hallucinations.
  • Respiratory distress.
  • Tachycardia.
  • Numbness.
  • Personality changes.
  • Coma.

How to Find Diazepam Addiction Treatment

Withdrawals are best treated under the care of medical staff at a detox center. There, a physician can stabilize the symptoms and lessen the effects of withdrawal. It’s important to understand that withdrawal from Valium can be exceedingly uncomfortable, so many users may abandon their detox efforts and return to use in order to allay the symptoms of anxiety or seizures.

Not everyone gets the help they need for drug addiction. Don’t be one of the large numbers of people who let addiction control their lives. Rehab facilities are located throughout the U.S., and many offer specialized treatment that can cater to individual needs. You can use SAMHSA’s Behavioral Services Locator to search for treatment centers. Many state government websites will provide local drug and alcohol resources to those in need. To find your state government’s website, do a web search for your state name and ‘.gov.’ Once your state website is located, substance use resources shouldn’t be hard to find, and they should provide further phone contacts for your assistance. You can get the help you need for Valium addiction today.

American Addiction Centers (AAC) is a leading provider of addiction treatment programs and has trusted rehab facilities across the country. Please call us free at to learn more about rehab programs and treatment options.

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