Valium (Diazepam) Abuse & Addiction

Written by Jonathan Strum

& Medically Reviewed by Dr. Jessica Pyhtila, PharmD

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Last Updated - 10/19/2022

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Updated 10/19/2022

Article Overview:

  • Valium is a benzodiazepine and the brand name of the drug diazepam.
  • It is a Schedule IV controlled substance, meaning it carries a risk of abuse, addiction and dependence.
  • Stopping Valium cold turkey can trigger dangerous withdrawal symptoms, including seizures.
  • Treatment for Valium addiction is available.

What Is Valium?

Valium is a brand name for diazepam. It is a prescription drug and one of the most commonly prescribed benzodiazepines in the nation. Valium calms activity in the central nervous system, so it’s often prescribed to treat anxiety or panic disorders as well as seizures and muscle spasms.

Valium is intended to be taken exactly as directed, and people shouldn’t take different doses or take it more often than prescribed. It’s also essential that people who take Valium only take it for the prescribed period of time. Using Valium outside of how it’s prescribed or without a prescription is considered abuse of the drug.

Some of the common side effects of Valium can include drowsiness, confusion, muscle weakness and coordination problems.

Understanding Valium Addiction

Valium is a Schedule IV controlled substance, meaning that it carries a risk of dependence, abuse and addiction. Valium is believed to be addictive because of how it affects the central nervous system and brain of the user. Like other habit-forming drugs, Valium triggers the brain’s reward system and calms neuron activity in your brain.

Valium and similar drugs impact your brain’s pleasure and reward centers and can make you want to continue seeking out the drug. This is when addiction and physical dependence can develop.

Physical Dependence

Physical dependence is different from addiction, and dependence can form without an addiction. The physical part of Valium dependence means that you’ve taken the drug to the point where your body depends on it to feel normal. When this happens and you stop using the drug, you’ll go through withdrawal.

For example, if you use Valium to treat anxiety or panic disorder, your body may become used to its presence. If you were to suddenly stop taking it, you would experience withdrawal symptoms. This can go along with addiction or occur separately.

Withdrawal from benzos like Valium can range from mildly uncomfortable to severe. Severe withdrawal symptoms can include seizures.

Valium Addiction Factors

Some factors can increase the likelihood you will become addicted to Valium. These factors include a history of substance abuse or addiction and taking the drug in ways other than prescribed. For example, if you take larger doses than what your doctor prescribes, you have a higher risk of becoming addicted. If you take it for more than a short-term period, you’re also at a higher risk of developing both dependence and addiction.

Some people may abuse the drug by crushing it up and snorting it, chewing it or dissolving it. This creates a more rapid and euphoric high. Taking Valium by using these methods is inherently abusing the drug.

Some of the signs you may be abusing Valium or addicted to it include:

  • You have intense cravings for the drug and feel that you can’t function or live normally without it.
  • You feel you require it to deal with daily life stress.
  • You continue to use the drug even in the face of adverse consequences or outcomes.
  • You constantly crave Valium and try to seek it in ways like buying it illegally on the streets or doctor shopping.
  • You’re taking Valium to achieve a high.

Another form of inherent Valium abuse involves mixing it with other substances. For example, people may take it with opioids or alcohol to intensify the effects. This is incredibly dangerous, as mixing substances can raise the risk of a deadly overdose. Like other benzodiazepines, Valium carries a Black Box Warning for the risk of overdose when used with opioids.

Valium Treatment in Colorado

Because Valium and other benzos are widely prescribed in Colorado and throughout the U.S., some Americans believe that these drugs are essentially harmless. However, this isn’t true.

When your brain’s reward and pleasure mechanisms are activated, a cycle of addiction can begin. Your brain is wired to continue seeking out stimuli that make you feel good. Even after a short period of exposing your brain to Valium’s effects, you may find that your cravings or drug-seeking behaviors are out of your control.

If you answer “yes” to one or more of the following questions, you may need treatment for Valium addiction:

  • Do you use Valium every day?
  • Are you taking Valium more often than prescribed, buying it illicitly or taking it from other people?
  • Are you crushing it up to snort it?
  • Do you worry about how to get more Valium?
  • Do you feel preoccupied with taking your next dose of Valium?
  • Has your life been negatively affected by Valium use?
  • Do you experience withdrawal symptoms if you don’t take Valium or miss a dose?
  • Have you tried to stop using Valium in the past and been unsuccessful?

People may not realize how difficult it can be to stop taking Valium. This is why it’s important — particularly if you have a severe or long-term addiction — that you find Valium addiction treatment that includes a medically supervised detox. Once you’ve safely detoxed from Valium, you can then start the component of treatment that deals with your psychological addiction.

Valium Addiction Treatment and Rehab

Treatment needs to be highly individualized, and it often includes a combination of pharmaceutical and behavioral interventions. At a professional rehab center like The Recovery Village at Palmer Lake, staff members focus on treating drug use as well as other issues that may play a role in the addiction.

For example, Valium is usually prescribed to people who suffer from a legitimate anxiety disorder, and then the drug ultimately becomes a crutch used to self-medicate. At our facilities, our treatment teams provide dual diagnosis treatment, meaning the underlying mental health issues of a patient are addressed at the same time as the Valium addiction.

Valium addiction recovery may happen through an inpatient or outpatient rehab program. A Valium addiction recovery center is a facility that uses a variety of methods to treat addiction in one location. These all-in-one centers also shelter patients from the stressors and triggers found in their daily lives, helping them learn how to live without Valium while in a safe, supportive and calm environment.

Inpatient Treatment

Inpatient treatment is the most effective program for many patients because medical interventions can be monitored throughout treatment. You’re immersed in your recovery in a supportive environment, allowing you to make treatment your sole focus. Inpatient programs also offer the most structured day-to-day routines, which can be helpful to people as they transition into a drug-free life.

At an inpatient Valium treatment center, it’s also possible to treat polysubstance abuse. Polysubstance abuse occurs when someone is abusing multiple drugs at the same time, which is a common occurrence for people who struggle with Valium.

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient treatment for addiction usually includes in-depth therapy, counseling and various support elements to aid in recovery. In outpatient programs, however, the person does not stay at the facility. This allows them to continue living their daily life while still receiving treatment.

Does Insurance Cover Valium Rehab?

If you feel you’re ready to receive treatment for Valium addiction, you’ve already made the most important first step. Many patients will contact our Palmer Lake facility because they want help with a Valium addiction but don’t think they can afford it. Fortunately, we’re usually able to help them find payment options that work for them. Additionally, insurance will often cover Valium rehab or at least a portion of it.

If you’re ready to begin treatment for Valium addiction, contact one of our helpful representatives at The Recovery Village at Palmer Lake. Our intake coordinators are here to help you determine the right treatment option for your needs, verify your insurance and help you begin the path to lifelong recovery.


World Health Organization. “Clinical Guidelines for Withdrawal Manag[…]e in Closed Settings.” 2009. Accessed May 31, 2021. “Valium.” November 1, 2019. Accessed May 31, 2021.

ClinCalc. “The Top 200 of 2021.” Accessed May 31, 2021.


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