Valium, a widely available brand formulation of diazepam, is a prescription benzodiazepine with sedating, anti-anxiety properties. Though it has several medical uses, it is frequently abused for its pleasurable, sedative effects.1 With consistent use, the rewarding effects of the drug may place users at risk of developing a Valium addiction.
This page will provide more insight into Valium, its addictive nature, its effects, signs of Valium abuse, how Valium addiction is treated, and whether you can use your insurance plan to obtain Valium addiction treatment and rehab.
What is Valium Addiction?
Drug addiction is the continued, compulsive use of drugs, including central nervous system depressant like Valium, despite serious negative consequences, such as health, work, school, and relationship problems.2 Addiction is a treatable medical illness that affects the brain and changes behaviors such as self-control.2
The misuse of benzodiazepines, including diazepam, in the United States is a public health issue. According to the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, approximately 4.8 million people in the United States aged 12 or older misused benzodiazepines in the past year.3
Checking Your Insurance Benefits
If you are looking for Valium addiction treatment, it can feel overwhelming As you consider your options, knowing exactly what your insurance plan covers can give you peace of mind while you or your loved one is in rehab. You can do the work of getting and staying sober without worrying about unexpected costs or financial struggles. For more information on what your insurance plan covers, call AAC at , click here, or fill out the form below.
What Is Valium?
Valium, also known by its generic name diazepam, is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant that slows down certain brain processes.4 CNS depressants include several subclasses of prescription drugs. Valium falls into the category of benzodiazepines, which are used to treat conditions such as anxiety, panic disorder, and seizures. Other commonly prescribed benzodiazepines include Xanax (alprazolam) and Klonopin (clonazepam).5
Valium is taken as a tablet, while generic diazepam is also available as an extended-release capsule or liquid.6 Like other benzodiazepines, Valium carries a high risk of dependence and addiction.4
Is Valium Addictive?
Valium is a Schedule IV drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act.7 Schedule IV drugs are drugs that have a low potential for abuse and low risk of dependence.7 Valium does have a potential for abuse and to minimize that potential, many doctors will prescribe Valium for brief periods of time, rather than as a long-term treatment.
Benzodiazepines can lead to the development of physiological dependence and addiction, especially when misused. Valium may be more problematic than certain other benzodiazepines because it is considered highly lipophilic, meaning that it crosses the blood-brain barrier relatively more rapidly than some other drugs in the class. As this pharmacokinetic property helps to hasten the onset of Valium’s effects, it may also contribute to its pronounced and reinforcing high and thereby increase its addictive potential.8
People who are abusing Valium may be diagnosed with a specific type of substance use disorder (SUD) called a sedative, hypnotic, and anxiolytic use disorder. Signs of this type of SUD include:10
- Taking more of the drug or taking the drug over a longer period of time than intended.
- Being unable to stop or cut down.
- Spending a long time getting, using, or recovering from Valium.
- Cravings or strong urges to use the drug.
- Inability to attend to responsibilities at home, work, or school because of drug use.
- Continuing to use the drug despite conflicts in relationships created or exacerbated by Valium use.
- Giving up social, recreational, or work-related activities to use Valium.
- Using the drug in dangerous situations.
- Continuing to use the drug in spite of physical or psychological problems caused or made worse by drug use.
- Requiring more of the drug to feel the same effects or experiencing less of an effect with the same amount of the drug.
- Developing withdrawal symptoms when trying to quit or cut down.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Valium Addiction?
Valium use can result in a pleasurable high, especially when the drug is taken in larger-than-recommended amounts or used in ways other than prescribed. Essentially, Valium inhibits certain kinds of brain activity to reduce anxiety and elicit a sense of calm.1 When used in excess, it can create a sense of euphoria (intense pleasure) and can give rise to a pattern of slurred speech, disorientation, and disinhibition similar to that seen with alcohol.1,4,5
In addition to its intoxicating effects, Valium side effects from taking diazepam, especially in high doses, may include:1,6
- Muscle weakness.
- Inability to control bodily movements.
- Blurry vision.
- Dry mouth.
- Appetite changes.
- Difficulty urinating.
- Excessive sweating.
- Low blood pressure.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Libido changes.
Severe diazepam side effects and/or drug reactions that require immediate medical attention include:6
- Yellowing of the eyes or skin.
- Persistent tremor.
- Shuffling walk.
- Difficulty breathing or swallowing.
- Irregular heartrate.
Take Our “Am I Addicted to Valium?” Self-Assessment
Take our free, 5-minute “Am I Addicted to Benzodiazepines” self-assessment below if you think you or someone you love might be struggling with Valium addiction. The evaluation consists of yes or no questions that are intended to be used as an informational tool to assess the severity and probability of a substance use disorder. Substance use disorders should be diagnosed by professionals using these diagnostic criteria after thorough patient assessment. This self-assessment is free and confidential and may serve as an indicator of a potential addiction but should not replace a diagnosis from a professional treatment provider.
What are the Health Risks of Valium Abuse?
Valium abuse is associated with a range of long-term physical and mental health effects. Whether a person will experience long-term effects, and the intensity of these effects, often depends on how much and how long the drug was being used.
Long-term physical effects of Valium abuse include:1,4,5
- Physical dependence.
- Pregnancy complications.
- Increased risk of contracting HIV, hepatitis, and other infectious diseases.
Valium’s long-term negative effects can extend to a person’s mental health as well and include:8
- Memory impairments.
- Attention problems.
- Users may experience sad mood, loss of interest in activities that were once pleasurable, and, in some cases, suicidal thoughts.
Valium users who have developed a significant level of physical dependence will likely experience the onset of acute withdrawal should they abruptly stop or drastically reduce their use. Acute Valium withdrawal symptoms may include:1,4,6
- Changes in mood.
- Increased heart rate.
- Increased blood pressure.
- Poor concentration.
- Impaired memory.
- Muscle aches and stiffness.
Acute Valium withdrawal symptoms may range from mildly uncomfortable to severe and possibly life-threatening.
How Do I Get Help for Valium Addiction?
While it can be difficult to overcome an addiction to Valium, it can be effectively managed.10,11 There is not one type of facility or program that is suitable for everyone.10 Addiction treatment should address both your substance abuse and the various ways it has negatively impacted your life, including physically, mentally, socially, and emotionally.10,11
There are various types of treatment options available to address the wide range of needs that people experience.12 Programs typically provide an individualized treatment plan that is tailored to your unique needs. They often use a combination of different techniques to address your addiction and how it has affected you.12
These can include:10-12
- Residential treatment, where you live at a facility, and receive care and/or support around the clock. This is a structured setting with counseling, support, and a strong emphasis on peer and social interactions.
- Inpatient treatment typically involves a shorter stay at a facility—often around 4 weeks —with around-the-clock monitoring and care, intense group therapy, and individual counseling.
- Outpatient treatment offers less intensive group and individual counseling while you live at home. This type of care allows you to work, attend school, and participate in daily life while learning how to adjust to stressors and receiving the support of peers and staff.
- Behavioral therapy in a group, individual, and/or family settings is highly effective for treating addiction to hallucinogens, dissociative drugs, and other substances. These techniques can help you learn how to stay sober, improve your relationships with others, cope with stress in healthy ways, and participate in positive activities.
- Treatment for co-occurring disorders, which addresses mental health disorders at the same time as a substance use disorder, is generally more effective than treating these issues separately. Therapy, medications, and other supportive services are commonly utilized in this type of treatment.
If you are seeking diazepam treatment in the United States, you have a wide array of options including private rehab facilities, state-run treatment facilities, and local treatment programs. There are also support groups that can help you as you work toward becoming sober and maintaining that sobriety. Narcotics Anonymous (NA) is a mutual support group that offers people the opportunity to use peer bond, sponsor relationships, and self-expression to work toward sobriety. There are also non-12-step programs available that offer alternatives to NA.
Where Can I Learn More about Treating Valium Addiction?
For more information about Valium abuse and addiction treatment, you may want to reach out to your doctor. Or you can contact one of our admissions navigators at for the information and support you are looking for as you look for Valium abuse treatment.
There are various treatment programs and strategies available for diazepam addiction, so don’t give up if the first program you check out doesn’t meet your individual needs. To learn more about Valium addiction treatment, click here.
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2021). Valium.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Understanding Drug Use and Addiction DrugFacts.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2020). Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States: Results from the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health(HHS Publication No. PEP19-5068, NSDUH Series H-54). Rockville, MD: Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Research report series: Misuse of prescription drugs.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2020). Commonly Used Drug Charts: Central Nervous System Depressants.
- U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2021). MedlinePlus: Diazepam.
- United States Drug Enforcement Administration. (n.d.). Drug Scheduling.
- Longo, L. P., & Johnson, B. (2000). Addiction: Part I. Benzodiazepines-side effects, abuse risk and alternatives. American Family Physician, 61(7), 2121-2128.
- American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2020). Principles of drug addiction treatment: A research-based guide (Third edition).
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). The National Institute on Drug Abuse media guide.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019). DrugFacts: Treatment approaches for drug addiction.