Valium Addiction | Effects, Abuse, Warnings Signs, & Treatment

Manish Mishra, MBBS

Medically Reviewed By: Manish Mishra, MBBS


Valium (diazepam) is a benzodiazepine. Like all medications in this class, Valium has a relatively high potential for abuse due to its sedative effects and the feeling of euphoria that can be produced when the drug is taken in excess.

Valium is a well-known brand name medication made with the benzodiazepine drug diazepam, a Schedule IV controlled substance.

Diazepam is often prescribed in various forms (including tablets, oral liquid, injections, and rectal gel) to treat:

  • anxiety disorders
  • panic attacks
  • skeletal muscle spasms
  • seizure disorders
  • symptoms of alcohol withdrawal

However, diazepam is also frequently misused and abused, sometimes in combination with other drugs and alcohol. And even when used therapeutically, Valium is habit-forming with a substantial risk for producing severe physical dependence and addiction.

Effects Of Valium

Diazepam produces its effects by increasing the action of the GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) neurotransmitter, a chemical the body produces to reduce activity in the central nervous system. 

This can have a powerfully calming effect, helping to relax tense muscles and relieve seizures, anxiety, agitation, or insomnia.

The effects of diazepam are generally similar to those of other benzodiazepines, including:

  • alprazolam (Xanax)
  • chlordiazepoxide (Librium)
  • lorazepam (Ativan)
  • oxazepam (Serax)
  • clonazepam (Klonopin)
  • temazepam (Restoril)

These various benzos, as well as their medical applications and abuse potentials, vary by how quickly they take effect and how long their effects last, as well as overall potency.

Valium Abuse

The false sense of well-being and the calm, drowsy euphoria that a high dose of diazepam can produce makes diazepam a common drug of abuse. Taking high doses of Valium can result an a life-threatening Valium overdose.

Its effects can be intensified when taken in combination with alcohol, opioids, and other drugs, though this increases a person’s risk of adverse effects like overdose.

Diazepam is only recommended for use over short periods of time, up to a maximum of four weeks. 

If the drug is used for longer periods, or abused in high doses or in combination with other drugs, the body will quickly adapt to the medication’s effects, producing physical dependence and withdrawal symptoms when a person stops taking diazepam.

Warning Signs For Valium Addiction

Some who begin taking diazepam therapeutically end up using the drug for much longer than recommended, until they gradually find they cannot stop taking the drug without experiencing withdrawal symptoms. 

Many who misuse diazepam for various reasons will do so secretively, making it hard for those around them to recognize that there is a problem.

However, you may be able to recognize warning signs such as:

  • signs of alcohol-like intoxication, including slurred speech, muscle weakness, blurred vision, and unusual drowsiness
  • self-isolation from friends and family members
  • difficulty keeping up with personal responsibilities
  • drug-seeking behavior like visiting multiple doctors or inventing symptoms
  • unusual cognitive and memory impairment
  • impaired judgment and inhibition
  • sleeping problems
  • trouble breathing
  • sudden mood swings and emotional instability, especially if a person hasn’t been able to take their medication recently

Symptoms Of Valium Withdrawal

There are many different substances that can generate physical dependence and withdrawal symptoms. However, the symptoms of benzodiazepine withdrawal may be especially severe and can, in rare cases, even be life-threatening.

As a result, healthcare providers strongly advise that anyone who has become dependent on diazepam work through a process of tapering, or slowly reducing their dosage to give the body a longer period of time to recover its natural internal balance safely.

These withdrawal symptoms, which can vary greatly in severity and duration, commonly include:

  • increased anxiety or panic attacks
  • abdominal pain and cramping
  • headaches
  • sweating
  • vomiting
  • mental confusion
  • memory issues
  • reduced appetite
  • restlessness
  • difficulty sleeping
  • hypersensitivity
  • heart palpitations
  • muscle twitching

Other, more severe acute withdrawal symptoms can include psychosis, suicidal thoughts, and delirium.

Health Issues & Dangers

Short- and long-term use of benzodiazepines has been linked to a variety of potential health issues and dangers, especially in cases of prescription drug abuse:

  • hazardous additive effects when taken with other central nervous system depressants (drinking alcohol, opioids, sedatives/sleeping pills, antihistamines, muscle relaxants, anesthetics, and others)
  • other drug interactions with prescription medications and supplements including anticonvulsants like ketoconazole, antidepressants like fluvoxamine, and more
  • risks related to pre existing medical conditions like low blood pressure, narrow-angle glaucoma, myasthenia gravis, sleep apnea, and others

In addition, long-term use and abuse of diazepam is known to contribute to:

  • increased risk of brain damage and mental health issues including depression, anxiety, PTSD, psychosis, sleep disorders, suicide, and others
  • an increased risk of drug overdose effects including CNS depression and breathing problems (also referred to as respiratory depression) which can be life-threatening

Valium Addiction Treatment

Treatment for diazepam addiction begins with detoxification, tapering, and/or replacement therapy, as healthcare professionals work with you to safely discontinue your diazepam and help your body deal with the ensuing withdrawal syndrome.

Once detox is finished, additional evidence-based treatment options that may be recommended to you include:

If you’re facing Valium addiction or dependence, the most important thing you can do for yourself and your loved ones is to begin the recovery process as soon as possible. To learn more, please contact Ohio Recovery Center today.


How Long Does Valium Stay In Your System?

Valium (diazepam) is a long-acting medication with an elimination half-life of 20-50 hours. While its primary effects last from 4-6 hours, Valium and its characteristic metabolites can be detected on a urine test for up to six weeks after last use.

Learn more about How Long Valium Stays In Your System

Does Snorting Valium Work?

Snorting Valium is a form of drug abuse which results in the drug entering the bloodstream quickly. This creates feelings of euphoria, but may cause dangers such as an increased risk of overdose.

Learn more about Snorting Valium

What Happens If You Smoke Valium?

When a person smokes Valium, they may achieve an instant high due to how quickly the drug enters the bloodstream. However, the high dissipates quickly and this method of drug abuse can lead to serious side effects such as an overdose.

Learn more about Smoking Valium

Is Diazepam Approved For Rectal Use?

Diazepam is approved for rectal use under the brand name of Diastat. Rectal administration of diazepam helps treat muscle spasms and seizures brought on by epilepsy. Abusing Valium via rectal administration increases the risk of health issues and overdose.

Learn more about Plugging Valium

What Does Valium Look Like?

What Valium looks like depends on the drug manufacturer. It comes in a variety of colors including white, orange, yellow, and blue. It also comes in a number of strengths and with many different imprints.

Learn more about What Valium Looks Like

How Much Does Valium Cost On The Street?

Valium can cost $0.50 to $1 per milligram on the street in Ohio, or $15 to $30 for a one-month supply of 2 mg Valium tablets. Street prices in Ohio may vary based on where you are in the state and who you buy street Valium from.

Learn more about Valium Street Prices

How Does Valium Affect Sex Drive?

Depending on the individual, their dosage, and how long they use Valium, the drug may have little to no effect on sex drive and sexual function. However, Valium also has the potential to reduce sexual interest and function.

Learn more about Valium & Sex Drive

  1. American Academy of Family Physicians
  2. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)
  3. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

Written by Ohio Recovery Center Editorial Team

© 2024 Ohio Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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