Valium is a benzodiazepine class of drug, with sedative, hypnotic, anxiolytic, anticonvulsant, amnesic and muscle relaxant properties. Valium was first introduced in 1963 and is currently available as diazepam. The drug was a modification of the first benzodiazepine, Librium, and today is used in the treatment of anxiety. Valium has totally replaced the barbiturates as the drug of choice for decreasing anxiety. Valium has a relatively lower abuse potential and relatively fewer adverse reactions. Valium is considered a minor tranquilizer. For the past 40 years, valium has been most often used for the short-term relief of moderate-severe, disabling anxiety or insomnia. Long-term use can be associated with the development of tolerance, physiological and psychological dependency. Valium is believed to interact with the GABA receptor; GABAA; the activation of which decreases neuronal activity.
Although valium is extremely effective in the management of anxiety disorders, it has the potential for abuse and may cause physical dependence or addiction. Intentional abusers of valium usually have other substance abuse problems. Valium is usually a secondary drug of abuse, used mainly to potentiate the high received from another drug or to diminish the adverse effects of other drugs. However, even legitimate, therapeutic usage of valium carries with it an innate risk of addiction and physical/psychological dependence. Tolerance to valium can develop rapidly with daily or frequent use. Generally, tolerance to the hypnotic and sedative effects occurs within days, however, tolerance to the anxiolytic effects of valium, rarely, if ever, occurs. Long-term valium usage generally leads to some form of dependence. Studies show that up to half of patients prescribed valium for 6 months or more, become physically dependent to the drug.
Dependence is a risk factor that comes with the drugs. This happens when the patients, after getting relief, continues to take it under the impression that they cannot live without their daily dose. Once used to it, they make it a habit to have a Valium every few hours. And if they stop it suddenly, they feel like the old problem returns. Sometimes when the drug stops working, tolerance builds and they increase the dosage without consulting the doctor. By now, actually their problem is not anxiety or insomnia, but that they are unaware that the real problem is benzodiazepine dependency. Symptoms seen among the addicts mainly are high levels of anxiety, insomnia, tension, tremors, and fatigue.
As with any drug or alcohol addiction, the success of withdrawal therapy depends on the severity of the addiction and the degree to which the addict is willing to comply with a treatment plan. The length of time the drug has been taken as well as the dosage used can alter the overall success of programs. Common therapies include counseling, group therapy, and residential treatment programs. Valium addiction is viewed and taken as seriously as addiction to any illicit or illegal drug. For people who are addicted, it is often difficult for them to accept that they are an addict in the same way as someone addicted to heroin or cocaine.