Understanding Diazepam Addiction
Diazepam is a drug that belongs to a group known as benzodiazepines. Brand and other names for Diazepam include Diazemuls, Diastat AcuDial, Diazepam Desitin and Diazepam Rectubes. It is also more commonly referred to as Valium, although this as a brand is no longer available in the UK. Street names for Diazepam include Bars, Downers, Benzos, Chill Pills, Nerve Pills, Tranks and Zannies.
Diazepam is treated for many different conditions by doctors and is available on prescription. The drug is used to treat anxiety and panic attacks, seizures, fits and problems with muscular spasms. It can also be used to aid the discomfort of withdrawal symptoms such as insomnia and sweating when a person is undertaking a drug detox. Patients are also administered Diazepam to calm them down before receiving an anaesthetic for surgery, dental or other medical procedures. This is referred to as a ‘pre-med’.
Diazepam is available in a liquid formula, tablet form, and in rectal tubes that are squeezed into the bottom. It is also possible to administer Diazepam intravenously. Diazepam should only be used as prescribed by a doctor. It is not recommended for use longer than a one-month period. As sleepiness is a main side effect of the drug, it is strongly advised that people taking it do not operate machinery, drive or drink alcohol. Diazepam is highly addictive and is much stronger than other drugs found in the same group, with longer-lasting effects. If the drug is abused, addiction can occur quickly, as the brain can soon become dependent on the drug to function. Many people who suffer from addiction to Diazepam do not realise that they have a drug issue.
Effects and abuse of Diazepam
Because of its calming effects, Diazepam is often abused because users need to take it to feel an ‘escape’ from everyday life. Abuse is common in those who are dealing with the aftermath of a highly stressful life change or major event. Some people take the drug to get high and forget about their worries and daily stressors, while others take it as they feel they need it just for their brain to function properly. This is in the case of severe addiction. Some people abuse Diazepam because they struggle with insomnia and restlessness, and the drug helps them to feel calm and sleepy. When taken, Diazepam makes the user feel extremely calm and blissful, especially if a strong dose is ingested. The drug can create pleasant changes in mood, relief from low moods and thoughts (dysphoria), a sense that thought processes are clearer and more lucid, and an increased sense of confidence and popularity.
Some of the major signs of Diazepam abuse are:
- Cravings for larger doses of the drug (and more frequently)
- A craving to feel the effects of Diazepam
- Crushing and snorting the drug
- An intent focus on purchasing and using Diazepam
- Disinterest in hobbies, work/education and family life
- Taking Diazepam even if it is taking a toll on an individual’s general health
- Doing things that are out of character or considered high risk
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms if Diazepam isn’t taken, or if the user tries to cut down
Warning signs of Diazepam addiction
Diazepam addiction can develop over a period of time following abuse of the drug. Warning signs to look out for include:
- Failed attempts to stop using Diazepam
- A disinterest in usual work and family life
- Continued taking of Diazepam, despite the associated health risks
- Feeling disorientated and confused
- Fluctuating moods, including swings between feeling calm and aggression/hostility
- Feeling light-headed and faint
- Muscle tremors
- Slow heart rate and trouble breathing
Even at lower doses, Diazepam can greatly affect brain and cognitive function if taken in any other way than that prescribed by a doctor. In younger abusers, Diazepam is often mixed with alcohol and heroin/other opioids, increasing the risk of overdose or even death.
Diazepam withdrawal symptoms
The withdraw symptoms of Diazepam can be very uncomfortable to experience, therefore it is often advised to detox from Diazepam in a controlled environment where the symptoms can be carefully monitored and the person suffering can be emotionally supported. Feeling frightened, panicked and anxious is very common when experiencing Diazepam withdrawal. This is because the drug keeps these feelings at bay when it is taken. The sufferer may also feel as if they are ‘losing their mind’, and may feel particularly ‘up and down’ in their moods. Other withdrawal symptoms include:
- Feeling apprehensive
- Difficulty sleeping
- Feeling very low/depression
- Feeling sick/vomiting
- Blurry vision and hallucinations
- Difficulty concentrating
- Raised blood pressure and an increased heartbeat (tachycardia)
- Muscle cramps/pain
- Joint pain
In severe cases, a missed dose of Diazepam in some addicts can cause severe body tremors and shaking, psychosis, digestive issues, breathing problems, and a slow heart rate. Sufferers also experience sensations of numbness in the limbs. This is why detox under medical supervision is the best choice, as trying to detox alone can put lives at risk.
Support for Diazepam addiction
It is difficult to come to terms with the fact that either you or someone you love may have a Diazepam addiction. The most important thing to know is that as a patient, you will be treated with dignity and respect at East Coast Recovery. Before we start treatment, we recommend a medical consultation to discuss the way Diazepam is used and the withdrawal symptoms experienced. We want to make sure that we can work towards eliminating withdrawal symptoms in the safest way possible while helping to control cravings.
Diazepam is a dangerous drug to try and detox from without professional help. This is especially the case if the user has been taking it for more than four weeks. At East Coast Recovery, we will offer a course of treatment and recovery options that are unique to you, helping to treat the underlying causes of your addiction as well as your symptoms.
Committing to a course of drug rehabilitation therapy or detox is hard work and requires commitment from the person undertaking the treatment. With our help and support, you can be successful and live a life free from drug abuse.
Treatment of Diazepam Addiction
Whether you or someone you love will be an inpatient or outpatient for Diazepam addiction will be largely dependent on the severity of their addiction. If there are underlying medical conditions arising from the abuse, ongoing monitoring and medical care will be needed. Residential treatment may be required. Other forms of treatment include counselling and group therapy, as well as educational programs on how to overcome cravings and the nature of drug addiction. Some patients find that cognitive behavioural therapy, meditation, hypnotherapy, mindfulness and motivational enhanced therapy all help them to overcome their behavioural patterns.
The withdrawal process from Diazepam will be different for each person. The first withdrawal stage can take up to 72 hours to onset. It can take longer, depending on how heavy the addiction is. Early withdrawal signs often involve feelings of anxiety and restlessness. Withdrawal symptoms usually peak after two weeks. At this stage, the user is most tempted to relapse. We will offer emotional and healthcare support to help patients through this difficult period. Many people find that after the fourth week, withdrawal symptoms start to get milder and easier to cope with.
Those receiving treatment for Diazepam addiction will be encouraged to attend Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meetings and understand the 12-step programme. We can also arrange family therapy days and family therapy so that the person receiving treatment can be properly supported by their loved ones.
We would recommend outpatient treatment for those with a strong home support network and who have no serious health complications as a result of their addiction. This treatment pathway is often followed in patients with a lighter history of drug abuse.
Medically supervised Diazepam detox
Diazepam is a highly addictive drug that can destroy lives if abused. It is often necessary in cases of severe addiction to undertake a detox programme to ensure personal health and safety. During a detox program, individuals are carefully monitored and supported, and medications are administered if withdrawal symptoms become serious, life-threatening or very uncomfortable. Withdrawal symptoms can be painful, which is when there is a greater risk of relapse. To avoid relapse, a detox programme is always recommended to ensure safety.
When undertaking a Diazepam detox, a patient will be assessed and our team will determine the severity of their addiction and any other medical complications that arise from it. It is important for patients to be honest and tell us of any other drugs they might be taking. During the detox process, patients will be monitored and supervised in our comfortable in-patient facility.
Following detox, we recommend an ongoing aftercare programme for long-term recovery. This may involve therapy sessions, addiction treatment sessions, NA meetings and more. This enables patients to implement new coping techniques and strategies that help them to live life without turning to drugs.