Diazepam (Valium) is a benzodiazepine drug used for anxiety disorder, alcohol withdrawal symptoms, and muscle spasms. This drug is often used in combination with other medications to treat seizures, as well. Valium works by replacing chemicals produced by the brain and slowing down electrical activity. The active substance produces feelings of relaxation, which is why it is so addictive.

People who use Valium for a prolonged period of time develop a tolerance. This drug has the power to structurally and functionally change the nerve cells of the brain. It was estimated that 2.6 million individuals used a benzodiazepine for recreational use. A recent study by SAMHSA found that sedative-hypnotics were the most frequently implicated prescription drug in emergency room visits.

Co-Occurring Disorders

There are several disorders that occur along with addiction disorder. These include:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Depressive disorders
  • Stimulant abuse
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Multi-substance abuse
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Panic disorder

Symptoms and Signs of Drug Abuse

The mood symptoms of drug abuse include irritability, aggression, confusion, and depression. The behavioral symptoms include slowed movements, changes in appearance and inattention to personal hygiene, change in eating habits, engaging in illegal activities, going to different pharmacies, and frequent trips to the doctor. Physical symptoms include drowsiness, nausea, restlessness, dizziness, spinning sensation, constipation, drooling, dry mouth, skin rash, itching, and slurred speech. Other signs and symptoms include memory problems, amnesia, hallucinations, poor judgment, and preoccupation with suicide.

Causes of Drug Addiction

Drug properties play a role in the development of addiction. Research proves that combination of a variety of different factors. The most common causes are:

  • Genetic – Research shows that addictive behavior is heredity. People who have relatives with addiction problems are likely to have a problem in later years.
  • Brain chemistry – The primary mechanism is the enhancement of GABA receptors in the brain and a lower level of serotonin, a neurotransmitter in the brain.
  • Environmental – In a household where addiction is commonplace, children learn that substance use is a normal coping mechanism. Individuals often self-medicate to cope with the depression or trauma in their lives.
  • Psychological – A benzodiazepine addiction is associated with abuse of other substances, and people with mental illnesses are more likely to develop addiction. There is a greater risk of developing addiction when a mental condition is present.

Effects of Valium Abuse

Valium is a legally prescribed drug, but it can cause some serious side effects. These include:

  • Mood swings
  • Memory loss
  • Money problems
  • Social isolation
  • Bouts of depression
  • Violent or aggressive behavior
  • Legal problems
  • Family and/or marital problems

Withdrawal Effects

Long-term use of benzodiazepines causes a person to become tolerant and physically dependent on a drug. When this occurs, the discontinuation of a drug such as Valium can lead to severe withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms vary depending on the person’s frequency of use and amount being taken. The withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Muscle cramps
  • Aggressiveness
  • Seizures
  • Panic disorder
  • Tremors
  • Anxiety
  • Dysphoric manifestations
  • Psychosis
  • Irritability
  • Hallucinations