Valium, which is generically known as diazepam, became popular in the 1970s as an anti-anxiety medication. As psychopharmacological drugs gained notoriety, they became known as “mother’s little helpers” because of their ability to help women manage difficulties with motherhood.
The name “Valium” comes from the Latin term meaning “to be strong and well,” and it skyrocketed in popularity as it was marketed toward women. When it was introduced to the public, it was seen as a drug that could not create dependence and was safe. But like selling snake oil, addiction overwhelmed the people who used it.
A Swiss drug company named Roche Labs introduced Valium in 1963. It also became the first billion-dollar medicine as well as the first brand-name drug. Once the drug was on the market for about 10 years, a jaw-dropping number of 59.3 million people had a prescription for it. This accounted for 81 percent of all tranquilizers that were on the market at the time. It wasn’t until 1975 when the drug became abused on the street illegally. At that time, it was still considered safe, and it was said that a lethal dose by a suicidal person was nearly impossible. This all led to people ignoring the warning signs of Valium addiction, adding fuel to the fire.
What is often referred to as the benzodiazepine craze in the mid-1960s through the late 1970s had seen several publications that printed articles about the mass consumption of Valium. This included a major magazine, Cosmopolitan, that, in essence, accepted the drug, highlighting a new relationship between patient and doctor where emotional problems were cured by a miracle pill. This was a turning point in the popularity of Valium.
Valium is still prescribed today as a means to relieve anxiety, which, according to the National Institute on Mental Health, affects 19.1 percent of adults in the United States. The same study highlighted that anxiety is more likely to affect women (23.4 percent) versus men (14.3 percent), which could answer why Valium was geared more toward women.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder is the most common mental illness, and it can be crippling in some cases. While drugs like Valium can be highly effective, over time we have discovered that the drugs, despite initial claims, can be highly addictive and render users helpless in a state of active addiction. So we ask the question for someone seeking treatment: How does a medical detox center treat Valium withdrawal? Let’s discuss some factors that affect withdrawal first.
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Withdrawal symptoms from Valium can vary based on many factors. Upon entry to a medical detoxification center, addiction treatment professionals will assess the user and get an idea of their medical, psychiatric, and substance use history. Treatment is an individualized approach to getting someone sober, and these factors can dictate how they will proceed. These include:
All experiences between users will differ based on the level of drug dependency, the timeframe it was used, and other personal factors that all contribute to the difficulty of stopping Valium.
There is a wide range of physical, mental, and emotional effects that a client can feel during withdrawal and detox. All reactions will be unique to the client. While one client in treatment could experience no symptoms, another can experience all of the common withdrawal symptoms. Valium, however, is notorious for being difficult to withdrawal from because of the high risk of building tolerance and dependence. The most common symptoms will be an increased level of anxiety since the drug is often used to treat anxiety. These levels will be much higher due to the brain realigning itself.
Some Valium users complain of concentration problems, confusion, hallucinations, depression, and even memory loss. This is typical for symptoms associated with an elevation in anxiety. Other symptoms can include:
While these symptoms are milder and not life-threatening, they still can be reduced by entering a detox program. The combination of medical treatments and therapies in such a program can relieve and lessen these symptoms as the body adjusts to life without Valium.
While ending the use of Valium is not always dangerous, there are unique challenges. There is an increased risk for agitation, seizures, and a condition known as delirium tremens (DTs), which can be deadly. Due to these risks when stopping the use of Valium, medical detoxification is necessary to ensure safety. This is most often the recommended course of treatment for an addiction to this type of drug.
Medical detox allows the body to process and removes the drug from the client’s system while a team of specialists assists in assessing vitals and managing complications that could arise.
During detox from benzos, health care professionals could administer medication to alleviate the worst symptoms and mitigate any complications. This can include:
As mentioned earlier, each person will have a different experience. The type of treatment they require will differ based on a variety of factors, but what is mutually agreed upon by addiction specialists is that sudden cessation of Valium is dangerous and should never be done alone.
If someone is in the stage of their addiction where they’re ready to get help, they should take the prospect seriously and not risk death.
Drugs.com. Valium. (February 3, 2019) Thorton, P., DipPharm. from https://www.drugs.com/valium.html
Deaths From Benzodiazepine Cold-Turkey. (n.d.). from http://w-bad.org/deaths-from-cold-turkey/
Any Anxiety Disorder. (n.d.). from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/any-anxiety-disorder.shtml
Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). (n.d.) from https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/generalized-anxiety-disorder-gad
NIDA. (2016, February 11). Understanding Drug Abuse and Addiction: What Science Says. from https://www.drugabuse.gov/understanding-drug-abuse-addiction-what-science-says