Valium® Anti-anxiety Drug

Valium is a registered brand name of a version of diazepam, an anti-anxiety drug. It is in the benzodiazepine family of drugs, which alter the chemical balance of the brain. Doctors frequently prescribe Valium for muscle pain, alcohol withdrawal, anxiety, shakiness, and agitation.

Because Valium is very common and easy to obtain, many people have the idea that it is safe to use on a daily basis. However, Valium and other benzodiazepines carry certain health risks. There is some evidence that Valium does not work after a month or so, meaning that many people will increase their doses to get the same effects. Used over long periods of time, Valium can cause problems with memory and understanding, depression, increased anxiety, lowered emotional responses, and dependence.

It is best to withdraw from Valium® or any other benzodiazepine under medical supervision. You can experience seizures and other severe problems if you withdraw too quickly. Some people have actually died after they suddenly stopped taking benzodiazepines. 

Your symptoms will depend upon how long you have been using Valium and at what levels. They will also depend on your current health, age, weight, sex, medical history, additional drug use, and so forth. Your symptoms may be only mild depression and sleeplessness. However, some people go into a major withdrawal syndrome that includes flu symptoms like vomiting, sweating, convulsions, tremors, and abdominal and muscle cramps, and dangerous problems such as delirium, visual and auditory hallucinations, and lowered blood pressure. These symptoms begin 12 to 24 hours after your last dosage of Valium and are worst between hours 24 and 72.  Some clinics help you through this period by using medications or by gradually decreasing your levels of Valium.

Once all traces of Valium are removed from your body, you may “rebound,” or experience deep anxiety and panic at higher levels than before you took the drug.  Depending on the level of your involvement with Valium, you may want to remain in a residential center for a few months or weeks to get help with any anxiety and depression that may surface.

Depending on your budget, lifestyle, and level of drug use, you can choose a residential or outpatient center for treatment. Residential treatment is more intense in that you live with others undergoing treatment, along with full-time counselors. You participate in group and individual counseling, and may attend classes in nutrition and relaxation techniques. Usually, your family members will become involved in counseling, too, often by telephone. Most centers offer both indoor and outdoor sports, yoga, art, music, drama, and other activities that teach you how to relieve stress and anxiety in healthy ways. You also learn to deal with situations and people that may “trigger” a relapse into using drugs.

Once you return home, you usually will attend support meetings in your community, such as Narc-Anon. You will likely continue with individual and family counseling on an outpatient basis.

The National Institute of Health has published research that indicates people who spend at least one year in active treatment have better outcomes and are more likely to become permanently drug-free. Give yourself time.

If you are the custodial parent of a child who is abusing benzodiazepines, you have the right to place your child in a drug treatment center. Even teenagers who go through drug rehabilitation unwillingly can achieve excellent outcomes.