If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction to Valium, chances are you are curious about what treatment options exist. While overcoming an addiction to Valium and dealing with Valium withdrawal symptoms is a challenging process, there are many pathways to recovery that make this goal both realistic and achievable.

The fact is, untold thousands of people struggle with an addiction to benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepine prescription drugs have been on the rise over the past two decades, nearing 13.5 million individuals who filled a prescription for benzodiazepines in 2013. Though widely prescribed as a treatment for anxiety, panic disorder, and insomnia, benzodiazepines like Valium also have a high rate of substance abuse with extended use.

While there are many pathways to overcoming an addiction to Valium, the most effective tend to be in a treatment program. As we dive into what Valium is and how it works, the reason structured programs are the most viable treatments for valium addiction will become clear. There are also very real dangers of undergoing Valium withdrawal outside of medical supervision and guidance. Understanding these dangers can inform decisions about the level of care you need while navigating the treatment process.

The right treatment option is the one that works for you, but having a clear outline of what valium addiction rehab looks like, what it entails, and what the advantages and disadvantages of different treatment options are can help you or your loved one find a treatment option that will be best for you.

What is Valium?

Valium is one of the trade names that the drug diazepam is marketed under. Diazepam is a drug that is the benzodiazepine class of drugs. Diazepam has seen extensive use in clinical settings for over 5 decades. Diazepam was first formulated during the 1950s and released in 1963 under the name Valium.

There are a number of different benzodiazepines, some of which you may have heard of. These include Xanax, Klonopin, Librium, Ativan, and Restoril. Depending on the type of benzodiazepine it may be used to treat different conditions. Some benzodiazepines, such as Xanax, have a short half-life and fast action. Benzodiazepines with a fast action tend to be used to treat conditions such as insomnia, which require powerful sedation with a fast onset.

Valium is a type of benzodiazepine with a long half-life and slower action. What this means is that Valium will produce a sedative effect over a longer period of time. There are different formulations of Valium, so the exact length of time that Valium remains in the body will largely depend on which type of formulation you have been prescribed. The slower action of Valium means it is used to treat conditions which require more long-term effects. Valium is most commonly used for:

  • Anxiety
  • Panic-disorder
  • Pre-surgical anxiety
  • Alcohol withdrawal symptoms
  • Withdrawal from other benzodiazepines

You may find it interesting that Valium is used for the treatment of withdrawal from other types of benzodiazepines. The reason this is the case is that many people enter treatment for benzodiazepine addiction due to their use of benzodiazepines with a short half-life. The most popular of these is Xanax, which is one of the most prescribed drugs in the United States. Withdrawal symptoms associated with all the effects of benzodiazepines are difficult to manage and can be fatal in some cases. One method of minimizing the dangers and difficulty associated with withdrawal from these types benzodiazepines is to replace the short action benzodiazepine with one that has a long action such as Valium. Then, over time, the dose of Valium is tapered down until it can be safely eliminated.

How do Benzodiazepines Work?

Benzodiazepines are effective at treating anxiety and anxiety-related disorders through their effect on the neurotransmitter gamma-Aminobutyric acid, which is simply referred to as GABA. GABA is released at the nerve endings in our bodies. Benzodiazepine enhances the effectiveness of GABA, and the result is a sedative effect on the central nervous system.

The primary result of the administration of benzodiazepines is sedation. Most individuals feel drowsy after taking a benzodiazepine. Most individuals also feel more calm or relaxed. This sedative action is one of the reasons that benzodiazepines have been used for so long to treat anxiety and panic-related disorders, at least in the short-term.

Risks Associated With Valium

Due to the fact that benzodiazepines are so widely prescribed, most people assume they come with very few risks. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. While benzodiazepines will remain in use in a clinical setting due to their effectiveness at treating anxiety and panic-related disorders in the short-term, long-term use of benzodiazepines carries significant risks.

  • High Abuse Potential – Benzodiazepines were first embraced by the medical community because of their effectiveness at treating anxiety related issues and their lower toxicity than barbiturates, the drugs they were replacing. Within a short period of time, however, the high potential for benzodiazepine abuse with extended use became clear. Due to this fact, most benzodiazepines are used for the short-term treatment of certain conditions or are intended to be used on an “as-needed” basis for conditions such as insomnia. Long-term use of benzodiazepines has a very high potential for abuse.
  • Seizures – One of the most significant risks associated with extended benzodiazepine use is the possibility of seizures during the onset of acute withdrawal symptoms. Though benzodiazepines such as Valium are sometimes prescribed as a means of controlling seizures when they have been used for an extended period of time and that use is abruptly stopped there is a risk that seizures will develop. These seizures can be fatal, which is one of the reasons that benzodiazepine withdrawal should only be done under close medical supervision or in consultation with a medical professional.

Treatment Options for Valium Addiction

Now that we have a better understanding of what Valium is, how it functions in the body, and what some of the risks of Valium use are, let’s take a look at what kind of treatment options exist for Valium addiction. From the outset, it should be understood that quitting benzodiazepines suddenly, or “cold-turkey”, should never be attempted. Benzodiazepine use, including the use of Valium, should be stopped under medical supervision either in an outpatient or inpatient setting.

The reason that benzodiazepine cessation should always be done under medical supervision is because of the risk of developing seizures. Quitting after extended use of benzodiazepine drugs, which is usually considered anywhere from 1-6 months of time, may result in seizures which can be fatal. Avoiding this outcome is usually accomplished in a couple of ways when done through a rehab valium addiction program.

If you have been using a benzodiazepine with a short half-life, such as Xanax, you may be switched to a benzodiazepine with a long half-life. This replacement dose is then tapered down over time to avoid any seizures. Sometimes this approach is accompanied by the administration of anti-convulsant medication to ensure that seizures don’t develop during the tapering process.

Due to the risks associated with benzodiazepine withdrawal, treatment for Valium addiction will most likely occur in either an inpatient or outpatient treatment setting. Both of these offer the security of medical supervision, though to varying degrees. You’ll also likely undergo some type of tapering process to wean yourself off of Valium slowly, over time. Let’s take a moment to understand how this works a little bit better.

Tapering

An addiction to Valium must be addressed in a couple of ways. One component of this is the physical dependence you have on the drug. Another factor is the psychological component of addiction. To address the physical component of Valium, in particular, many treatment programs utilize a tapering process.

Tapering is simple in concept. Essentially you slowly reduce the dose of Valium you are taking over time. The goal is to reach a low enough dose that you can safely stop without risking the development of seizures, which can potentially be fatal. Treatment for other benzodiazepines will frequently require replacing a benzodiazepine with a short half-life, such as Xanax, with diazepam and then slowly tapering off of diazepam until you can safely quit. If you are addicted to Valium and have been taking high doses over time, the tapering process may be lengthy.

Throughout the tapering process, you may be given other medications to help ease any withdrawal symptoms you feel. One of the most common symptoms many people feel is the onset of anxiety. This anxiety may be intense. One of the ways that this is treated is through the use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI), which can serve as a long-term treatment method for anxiety and depression.

Inpatient vs. Outpatient

Both inpatient and outpatient treatment programs are viable options for the treatment of Valium addiction. Both of these types of treatment programs rely on a variety of evidence-based treatment modalities within them. As part of the treatment program, you may be required to take part in individual and group counseling, therapy, and courses which will teach you the skills you can utilize to achieve sobriety over the long-term. While both of these types of treatment programs share these features, there are some differences that are worth taking note of.

Inpatient Treatment Programs

Inpatient treatment programs tend to be the most intensive treatment programs available. During an inpatient program, you or your loved one will reside in the treatment facility for the duration of the program. Also known as residential treatment, inpatient treatment programs typically last from 30 – 90 days. During this time period, you’ll undergo a medically supervised Valium detox process, then begin the work of recovery through therapies, individual and group counseling, and skills building courses.

There are a number of advantages to inpatient treatment programs. The first is that you have a much lower risk of relapse due to the fact that drugs aren’t accessible. This can be advantageous for individuals who have attempted to quit numerous times before but have relapsed each time. The second advantage of inpatient treatment programs is that you have medical supervision around the clock, and access to medical professionals whenever you need them. This offers an additional level of security over other treatment program options.

The disadvantage of residential treatment programs is that you must reside in the facility for the duration of the program. This means that you won’t be sleeping at your house or going to your job for the duration of the program. The positive benefit to this is it limits exposure to people or events that might trigger a relapse, while also allowing you to focus solely on your recovery.

Outpatient Treatment Programs

There are two main types of outpatient treatment programs: intensive outpatient programs (IOP), and outpatient programs (OP). IOP is more similar to an inpatient program in the intensity of work in that it requires intensive engagement with the recovery process. You’ll be required to attend courses, take part in therapies, and do all of the work that individuals in an inpatient setting do. However, IOP allows you to tailor this work around your other commitments. This makes it a good choice for individuals that have childcare or employment responsibilities for which an extensive inpatient program isn’t realistic.

A standard outpatient program is less intense than IOP or an inpatient program. Outpatient programs allow you to flexibly tailor your recovery work around your regular life, while still having regular access to medical professionals that will ensure your recovery is on track.

Closing Thoughts

As a benzodiazepine, Valium use over an extended period of time can lead to abuse and addiction. Though Valium has a number of accepted medical uses, including for the treatment of addiction to other benzodiazepines, it also has a high potential for abuse. There are serious risks associated with transitioning off of all benzodiazepines, including Valium. If you have been using Valium for longer than 1-6 months, quitting the use of Valium suddenly can result in seizures which can be life-threatening.

Finding the right treatment plan for Valium addiction should be done after consulting with a medical professional to ensure that you find the treatment option that fits your needs. There are a number of different treatment options for Valium addiction available. There is no right answer when it comes to which treatment option is best. Rather, finding the treatment that allows you to overcome your Valium addiction over the long-term is the ultimate goal.

To find out more about what treatment options exist for Valium addiction, please contact Apex Recovery today.

Sources:

  1. https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opioids/benzodiazepines-opioids
  2. https://americanaddictioncenters.org/valium-treatment/withdrawal-duration
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK310652/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4657308/