Diazepam Symptoms and Warning Signs

Diazepam is a member of the benzodiazepine family of drugs. It is a sedative that is regularly prescribed to those suffering from conditions such as anxiety disorder, seizures, sleep disorders, and restless leg syndrome. It is also used to help with alcohol withdrawal syndrome and benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome to help reduce the effects of the associated symptoms.

Nevertheless, diazepam is a highly addictive substance in and of itself and unfortunately, it is regularly abused. Although countless people are prescribed this medication to treat a legitimate medical health problem, many go on to develop an increased tolerance to it and then find themselves struggling with a physical dependence. All this without even realising what has happened. But there are others who will intentionally abuse diazepam in order to get a high.

Whatever the reason you started using diazepam, if you are currently abusing this drug then you are at risk of developing an addiction and all the associated risks and problems. Addiction to any mood-altering chemical has the ability to destroy relationships and can leave lasting health problems. It is therefore very important that you get help as soon as possible.

Brand Names for Diazepam

  • Valium
  • Diapam
  • Relanium
  • Nervium
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Recognising the Common Warning Signs of Diazepam Abuse

If you were prescribed diazepam for a medical health condition, you will have been advised to take a specific dose at regular intervals. However, because a tolerance to drugs such as diazepam can build up quite quickly, you might have found that you were no longer getting the same effects as before.

You probably thought that it would be harmless to increase the dosage without first discussing it with your doctor; however, this is classed as abuse and it can lead to addiction.

Taking medication that was prescribed for another person is also classed as abuse, but this is also common with prescription medication.

If your use of diazepam has increased recently, you could be in danger of allowing your use to spiral out of control. You might become preoccupied with diazepam and begin thinking about it all the time. This may then cause you to neglect other important things in your life, including loved ones and responsibilities.

Another sign of diazepam abuse is taking it to change the way you feel. If you are finding it increasingly difficult to function or feel normal without diazepam, it may be best to speak to a professional before things get out of hand.

The Dangers of Diazepam Abuse

Diazepam abuse can have a significant effect on many aspects of your life including health, relationships with others, and finances. If you find that your use of this medication has become problematic, you will find it hard to function and it will begin to interfere with your ability to live a normal life.

High doses of diazepam can lead to confusion, short-term amnesia, and sedation. It is particularly dangerous when combined with opioid drugs as it can have dangerous side effects including decreased breathing, severe drowsiness, coma, and even death. There is also a risk of dangerous or possibly fatal side effects when diazepam is combined with alcohol or any other drug that has a sedative effect on the body.

In addition to the impact that diazepam can have on health, abuse of this medication has profound implications on your relationships with those around you. If your use of diazepam gets out of control, your behaviour will change, which will then cause tension and friction in your relationships with loved ones.

If you are regularly under the influence of diazepam, it could also hamper your ability to maintain employment or to find new work. This will then have a knock-on effect on your ability to earn an income and subsequently cause financial problems for you and your family.

Recognising a Diazepam Addiction

Diazepam abuse can result in a physical dependence that is indicated by an uncontrollable urge to use it. If you continue, knowing that it will have a negative impact on your life, then it is highly likely that you are already addicted.

Another sign of an addiction is if you experience withdrawal symptoms whenever you have skipped a dose. This is because your body has become accustomed to the presence of the chemicals in diazepam and it craves it whenever the effects wear off.

Your habit may be clouding your judgement too and you may find that you are unable to see the damage that your use is causing, to yourself or those around you. If you are aware of these events, yet you continue to desire diazepam and will do anything to get it, you almost certainly need help to turn your life around.

Diazepam Addiction and the Brain

Diazepam affects certain parts of the brain, particularly those associated with pleasure and reward. Use of this medication alters dopamine production and causes receptors to become more active. Dopamine is the chemical that is responsible for feelings of pleasure.

The surge of dopamine chemicals that are released by the brain cause you to feel a rush of pleasure, which can stimulate the reward centre and cause you to want to use diazepam again.

The drug also has an effect on GABA receptors. By increasing the activity of GABA, diazepam causes brain activity to slow down, creating the relaxed, calm feeling that you experience when you use this medication.

Learn the Immediate Side Effects of Diazepam Abuse

There is a range of side effects associated with diazepam use. Below are some of the immediate ones:

  • Sedation
  • Weakness
  • Blurred vision
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhoea
  • Urinary problems
  • Loss of libido
  • Restlessness
  • Slow breathing
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Seizures
  • Slurred speech
  • Tremors
  • Low blood pressure
  • Headache
  • Constipation
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Learn the Long-Term Diazepam Abuse Side Effects

Long-term use of diazepam can lead to health problems, particularly mental health conditions such as:

  • memory loss
  • cognitive decline
  • aggression
  • psychosis

It could also lead to other health problems, including:

  • increased risk of heart attack
  • slow pulse
  • breathing problems
  • hallucinations
  • coma

Intervention for a Diazepam Addiction

Someone you love might have been prescribed diazepam to treat a medical condition. If this is the case, you should be alert to changes in his or her behaviour that might indicate abuse. Many people do not realise that the way in which they are using their medication is classified as such, and it is often only when trying to quit that they find they are unable to.

Maybe your loved one has been deliberately abusing diazepam? This often happens when individuals take mood-altering substances to help them get a high or escape painful memories. Whatever the reason, if someone you care about is abusing diazepam, it is important to intervene as soon as you realise things are not right.

Talk to this person about the dangers of prescription drug abuse and suggest that he or she might need professional help to get better. Do not be surprised to be met with denials as this is quite normal in the case of addiction. But do not give up; remember, your loved one almost certainly cannot see things as clearly as you can as his or her mind is clouded by the medication being abused. Being supportive and non-judgemental could help the affected come to terms with the fact that he or she needs help to move on.

Detox and Withdrawal from Diazepam

If you have become physically dependent on diazepam, it is important that you seek help before suddenly stopping this drug. If you want to overcome an addiction to diazepam, you will need help to safely withdraw it from your body as quitting suddenly can cause several unpleasant side effects.

As part of a comprehensive recovery programme, you will be required to complete a detox programme. The best place for this is in a dedicated facility with experienced staff who will ensure your safety and comfort throughout.

Treatment and Next Steps

After detox, your treatment for the psychological and emotional issues related to your illness can begin. Rehabilitation is a process that takes place in either an outpatient facility or a residential clinic. You can choose which one suits you best based on your preferences and requirements.

During rehab for a diazepam addiction, you will likely have both individual counselling and group therapy sessions to help you learn the reasons you developed your addiction. Talking and behavioural therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy and dialectical behaviour therapy are often used during the process.

Family therapy is also another important treatment that takes place during rehabilitation. This gives you and your loved ones the chance to deal with any underlying issues relating to your illness. It may be the case that there are certain issues that contributed to your illness, such as conflict within the family unit or some form of abuse.

Nonetheless, family therapy can also help everyone to overcome the issues that have been caused by the addiction. Remember, your addiction affects more than just you.

Questions about Treatment

What is life like inside a rehab clinic?

Each clinic has their own way of doing things, but most follow a similar pattern where you will spend much of your day in treatment. You are likely to have a private or semi-private bedroom and there will be a shared dining hall where you will be expected to have meals with other patients.
During the day, you will have individual counselling and group therapy sessions and you may also attend workshops and seminars to further help your recovery. There will also be time for exercise and you are likely to learn about good nutrition as well.

Depending on the provider, you might have some free time in the evening and at weekends, provided you can use this time productively. Some treatment providers prefer to fill your time with activities to keep you busy throughout your stay.

Will there be other people at the clinic?

If you are being treated in an inpatient clinic, there will almost certainly be other patients. You will likely all be at different stages of the recovery process. While you may have many individual counselling sessions, you are also likely to take part in group therapy sessions with other patients. These sessions are hugely beneficial for everyone involved. Those who are new to recovery can see what is possible with hard work and dedication while those who are further along in the process will get a reminder of how far they have come.
During group therapy sessions, you and a group of other patients will work with one or more counsellors and will discuss common issues relating to your illness. Group therapy is a non-judgemental, supportive environment that can help your recovery.

Why can’t I just stop on my own?

If you have never tried to quit a mood-altering substance on your own, you may not realise just how difficult it can be without help. Once a physical and psychological addiction has developed, the way in which your brain functions will be altered. You will feel an overwhelming desire to use the substance that your body is craving, and you might find it almost impossible to resist.
It is true, that some individuals do manage to quit alcohol or drugs without help, but it is usually the case that they are not severely addicted. Furthermore, their recovery is often quite shaky as they have only dealt with the physical addiction and not the underlying issues that caused it. This will then leave them vulnerable to a relapse at a later date.

How long will I stay in the clinic?

The average rehabilitation programme lasts around four weeks, but it could be longer than this if your needs are more complex. The length of time you stay in the clinic will also depend on how you are responding to treatment. However, it is unlikely that you would stay any longer than twelve weeks as doing so could cause you to become institutionalised, which could make the transition back to the outside world harder.

What happens when treatment finishes?

Moving from a rehab clinic back to normal, independent living can initially appear daunting and you may be apprehensive about the prospect. You should not worry though as you will not have to do this alone. A good clinic will help with the transition home and will continue to provide aftercare support for up to twelve months, by which time you should be more than ready to leave their care.

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