Diazepam Addiction - A Comprehensive Guide - Rehab Guide

Diazepam Addiction – A Comprehensive Guide

Diazepam Addiction – A Comprehensive Guide

Diazepam medication bottle open with tablets on top of Physician's prescription

Understanding Diazepam Addiction

Addiction to Diazepam can progress quickly if the drug is used in a way not directed by a doctor. If you’re dealing with a medical issue that requires the use of some form of medication, it’s important that you know the potential risks of that medication. In too many cases, individuals start using prescription drugs without recognizing the potential for addiction.

Hopefully, the information below can leave you a little more informed so that you can prevent any adverse side effects or situations from occurring. Let’s take a look.

What Is Diazepam?

Diazepam is a depressant that operates by activating and inhibiting respective neurotransmitters in the brain.

Namely, GABA is the most important neurotransmitter in the diazepam equation. Neurotransmitters operate through networks of neurons, sending messages between neurons in the spaces called synapses.

Particular neurotransmitters contain chemical messages that direct the body to perform certain functions. Some of those functions stimulate and excite the body, others regulate certain functions, and some inhibit different parts of the system.

GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the nervous system, meaning that it prevents or reduces the flow of signalling. This plays an important role in the stress response as well as the experience of pain.

What is diazepam used for?

Benzodiazepines also called “benzos,” are often used to treat anxiety, agitation, sleep issues, and other medical problems.

Because benzos operate on GABA, they significantly reduce the experience of stress, anxiety, and pain. Diazepam pain relief can be very significant. This makes them very effective at treating a number of illnesses or disorders that involve those afflictions.

Any benzo can roughly be used as a diazepam alternative.

The trouble is that pain, anxiety, and stress are three of the most undesirable experiences that a person can have. The escape of those experiences can be very addictive.

For that, and a few other important reasons, diazepam can be particularly addictive if misused.

Diazepam Other Names

Diazepam might just be called a “benzo,” but it’s more common for it to be called by its brand name, Valium.

Valium and diazepam are the same things; one is just marketed differently and sold by a different company. Diazepam and valium might be used interchangeably in some circles, while it’s most often referred to as valium because it has grown to popularity under that name.

It’s also important to note that many individuals who sell benzos illegally might not bother to make the distinction between valium and other diazepam alternatives. Other common ones are Librium, Xanax, Ativan, and Klonopin.

All of these drugs operate as depressants to the central nervous system and produce semi-similar results. To the inexperienced user, all of the drugs might just seem like “downers.”

Most of them are used to treat anxiety disorders, while the chemical composition of each is unique and could pose particular risks to certain individuals. So, if you’re ever in the situation to use one of these drugs, make sure that you’re aware of the particular drug in question and the risk factors it poses.

Medical Uses of Diazepam

What does valium do to the body?

There are a few categories of medical issues that diazepam works to treat. For one, intense anxiety attacks and panic disorders are treated with diazepam. The drug is used in short-term situations but isn’t typically used for long periods of time.

Both panic disorders and general anxiety disorders might warrant the use of diazepam at certain points throughout treatment. As it is a central nervous system depressant, the drug can also be used in the treatment of sleep disorders.

Lack of sleep can cause anxiety, stress, and other factors that involve the central nervous system. Those symptoms are reduced with the use of benzos, while the individual is generally sedated when they use the drug.

Diazepam is also an anticonvulsant. This means that it reduces the frequency of seizures or prevents them from occurring. Further, an individual experiencing a fit of seizures might benefit from taking diazepam at the moment that they are convulsing.

How long does diazepam take to kick in?

The drug is fast-acting, so the effects will come on soon after the drug is ingested. Anticonvulsant properties come from the fact that seizures are the result of irregularities in the stream of electrical activity in the nervous system.

Slowing that activity down will reduce the intensity of the seizure. Some individuals also use diazepam and other benzos for the treatment of alcohol addiction.

Alcohol withdrawals can be severe and produce intense side effects. Things like anxiety, paranoia, physical pain, nausea, and convulsions might all be side effects of alcohol withdrawal. As a result, benzos are sometimes used in that treatment.

That said, the potential for addiction and abuse associated with benzos makes it a delicate drug to use in the recovery of other addictions.

What are The Effects of Diazepam?

We’ve mentioned the general function of diazepam already, but sometimes it helps to take a closer look at the specific function of the drug.

Benzodiazepines are “positive allosteric modulators” on GABA-A receptors. Let’s break that down a little bit.

Allosteric modulators are substances that bind to a receptor and change the function of that receptor in some way. In some cases, allosteric modulators will reduce the chance that a receptor binds to its corresponding neurotransmitter. In other cases, that chance is increased.

Because it’s a “positive” modulator, benzodiazepine will encourage GABA to bind with its corresponding receptors more than it otherwise would. GABA is the neurotransmitter that is most common in the central nervous system, which runs throughout the entirety of the body.

As we’ve discussed, GABA functions to subdue the nature of neurons and reduces the pain or stress signals running through the body. So, when positive allosteric modulators like benzos act on GABA receptors, GABA enters in full force and reduces the experience of pain and anxiety.

Varied Effects

The sedative, pain-relieving, anxiolytic (anxiety-reducing), and anticonvulsant properties of diazepam occur because of the subunits that exist on GABA receptors.

Not all GABA receptors are the same throughout the body. Each receptor is composed of a few different “sites.” These are positions on the receptor that hold ports for different substances to enter.

It’s like the receptor has a series of locks that different substances hold the key to. When the key enters a specific lock or multiple locks, it produces a particular response.

Not all receptors are equipped with every single lock. For example, one lock (called BZ1) is more concentrated in different regions of the brain than it is in the body. In particular, it’s concentrated in the cortex, cerebellum, and thalamus.

BZ1 receptors are the reason that benzos produce sedative and psychoactive effects. A similar relationship exists between neuron receptors in particular parts of the body and the effects that they produce when benzodiazepines are introduced.

The same is true of most, if not all, drugs. The substance is introduced, the body breaks it down, and the chemical composition of the drug interacts with our neuron receptors to encourage or discourage the flow of different chemicals.

Diazepam Addiction

It is possible to become addicted to diazepam. In fact, the chances of addiction are high if the individual uses the drug for a long period of time or uses more than is prescribed by their doctor.

Benzos are used as party drugs sometimes and hold a place in the class of dangerous drugs that are used recreationally. The fast-acting effects and benefits of drugs like diazepam make them easy escapes for individuals to take when they’re experiencing mental illness or pain.

Addiction can occur both when the drug has been prescribed as well as when they’re using it recreationally. Diazepam overdose is also possible.

That said, benzo overdoses are not common. They are, however, a big contributor to opiate overdoses. A lot of people combine opiates and benzodiazepines to produce an immersive sedated state.

People wonder, “is valium an opioid,” but the answer is no.

Opioids pose a very high risk of overdose. Benzos sedate the central nervous system in much the same way, so using both at the same time puts you at high risk of having your system slow to the point where essential bodily functions are halted.

Breathing slows, heart rate slows, the brain loses oxygen, and there’s not enough oxygen-filled blood to nourish the body. Brain damage occurs first, and the person passes away shortly after.

Why is Diazepam Addictive?

There are a few angles from which to look at the diazepam dependence problem.

On the one hand, we have to look at the experience that the drug produces. It’s a positive feeling to be relieved of stress and anxiety for a period of time. If you’ve been suffering from an anxiety disorder for a long period of time, that period of relief might feel like pure heaven.

Even if you do not suffer from mental illness, the feeling of relaxation and sedation is one that we can all appreciate. Life is fast-paced, hard, and can be too much to handle sometimes.

The experience of diazepam is one that allows the individual to relieve a lot of that pressure and pain. So, the first reason that people might abuse the drug is the absence of the pain they were feeling before.

On the other hand, we can look at what diazepam adds to the experience of the person. In addition to being a positive modulator for GABA, benzos are inhibitors for the inhibitors of dopamine. That’s kind of a brain-twister, though, so let’s unpack it a little bit.

Diazepam and Dopamine

Dopamine runs through our body and is released at the times that the body dictates are suitable. Those times tend to be during instances where we do things that are good for our own survival.

Eating, having sex, exercising, winning, and more are all instances where we get little hits of dopamine. Dopamine produces a great deal of pleasure and satisfaction. It’s the incentive that we have to reproduce the behaviour that brought the dopamine on in the first place.

In a materialist sense, dopamine is our reason for doing a lot of the things we do. We like to feel good, so we seek out things that make us feel good, and we’re satisfied through that process. That’s a simple way to look at life, but it’s important to note that dopamine is very powerful, pleasurable, and important.

If our bodies flooded themselves with all of the dopamine we had at one time, we’d be in a lot of trouble. Dopamine serves roles in many other parts of the body as well and works in ways that we can’t perceive.

It’s also important that it’s released at times that we’re completing healthy activities or achieving goals. As a result, our bodies have to have a way of inhibiting dopamine from entering the equation at all times.

There are a number of these inhibitors, but we can just think of them as “dopamine-inhibiting agents.”

Benzos inhibit those agents. Drugs like diazepam block out the dopamine inhibiting agents and allow the flow of dopamine to rush. The result is an intense pleasure.

That pleasure is addictive, and so is the absence of the pain that the person was experiencing before they took the drug.

Tolerance and Withdrawals

The final kick of most addictions comes in the form of withdrawals. Withdrawals are the “final boss” of getting clean.

You’re on the drug, you make the decision to get off of it, but all of your good intentions are met with a body that screams at you to get more of the drug you’re trying to leave behind.

The body gets used to the drug you’re using and adjusts its operation to accommodate that drug. Over time, the drug doesn’t work as well as it once did because your receptors are stuffed up, and the pathways that the drug used to function aren’t as open.

The result is that you need to take more of the drug to achieve a similar effect. The process of your body trying to adapt in this way leads to what is called “tolerance.”

When you have a high tolerance, you need more of the drug to get high. The trouble is that when you increase your dosage, you also increase your body’s dependence on the drug you’re using.

Causes & Risk Factors of Diazepam Addiction

Diazepam is typically used for a period of fewer than four weeks. Long-term use of diazepam can increase the chance that you’ll develop a dependence.

It’s also important to note that using more of the substance than is prescribed increases the odds of addiction. If you’re wondering, “how many diazepams can I take, make sure to ask your doctor.

Doctors prescribe diazepam in dosages that are less likely to contribute to dependence, typically easing off after use at a manageable level.

Going beyond those assigned dosages puts the individual at high risk for getting out of bounds with the drug and getting addicted, developing withdrawals, and suffering the side effects that come along with benzo addictions.

When that happens, many people find that they don’t even get high when they use the drug. The use of valium becomes a way to feel normal and escape withdrawals. The feeling of normalcy only exists when benzos are in the system at that point.

People who experience a lot of anxiety or stress throughout the day but have a hard time managing it are more prone to abuse valium. The drug might just set them back to an even level of calm.

As we mentioned before, the absence of negative feelings might be enough for a person to start abusing the drug.

A Note On Risk Factors

Anybody can become addicted to a substance. There are countless factors that could contribute to an individual’s addiction or cause them to develop an addiction in the first place.

Some of those factors are hereditary, while others could be environmental. Personal experience has a big impact on an individual’s vulnerability to addiction.

Further, individuals that wouldn’t otherwise meet the profile of a person vulnerable to addiction could find themselves in a situation where turning to drugs or alcohol feels like a good choice. The experience of trauma, mental illness, or sudden and lasting pain is all instances like this.

The issue of can diazepam cause depression or other mental illnesses is still to be understood. Diazepam depression could exist, but there are a lot of additional factors that contribute to depression. There could be a correlation, though, and that relationship could reinforce the chance that you would become addicted.

The genetic factors that lead to addiction aren’t clearly defined. What we do know, however, is that there are genetic factors that contribute to a person’s likelihood of drug abuse. If you have drug abuse in your family or have a parent with a notably addictive personality, these are things that you should keep in mind when dealing with addictive substances.

There are also a lot of addictive substances that are considered normal in different social groups. Alcohol and cigarettes are two of the most common ones.

These substances are harmful, can be abused, and even hold the chance to kill an individual over time. Yet, society deems it normal to use and abuse these drugs to an extent.

The same views could exist about diazepam in some circles. Your group of friends or the people you admire might think that benzos are harmless and can be used without risk.

That attitude could also contribute to the possibility of forming an addiction.

Signs, Symptoms, and Effects of Diazepam Addiction

Addiction can be hard to spot, especially at first. This is even true when it’s ourselves who are experiencing the addiction.

It’s important to know some of the warning signs and symptoms. The first thing to watch out for is taking Valium more often or at higher volumes than is prescribed by a doctor.

You might find yourself bargaining about the dosages, disregarding the changes to your use, or making excuses about why you’re using more. We can do this to ourselves without noticing the change.

Addicted individuals also reach a point where they need to seek the drug outside of the doctor’s office. If you use benzos recreationally, this is how you acquire the drug in all cases.

As addiction progresses, you might find yourself spending more time and effort acquiring diazepam. You’ll also start to experience more withdrawals and spend more time recovering from the drug.

That experience tends to lead a person toward spending even more time finding and using the drug to achieve the feeling of normalcy. Further, you’ll see that the use of benzos interfere with your life and relationships in a way that they didn’t before.

Overcoming Diazepam Addiction

If you’re experiencing addiction, it might feel like the cycle of use and withdrawal is too powerful to get out of. It can feel like there’s nothing to help the state that you’re in.

Know that addiction to diazepam, and other benzodiazepines is treatable. The recovery process is complex and based on the individual, but treatment centres can help a person to break the cycle of abuse and get help through the withdrawal process.

If you’ve been using benzos for a long time, the withdrawal process might be very painful. In many cases, the intensity of withdrawals can be enough to cause severe harm to the individual.

This is the case with a lot of substance abuse issues. Alcohol and opioid withdrawals, for example, can be fatal.

It’s important to have a team of professionals around when you go through this process. It’s also crucial to be with individuals who can counsel and inform you on the psychological aspect of addiction.

The process might be difficult, but it’s possible to kick your relationship with diazepam and start to recover your life. The sooner that you make this decision, the more likely you are to maintain a healthy brain and body.

Further, no matter how far along in the addiction you are, it will be easier to quit the sooner you stop.

Interested in Recovery Options?

Diazepam addiction can be very painful. Know that there are options for help, though.

Whether you’re experiencing addiction to benzodiazepines or someone you know is struggling, we’re here to help. Recovery centres in the UK are excellent and can get you the help you need.

Contact us for more insight into benzos, recovery, diazepam effects on the body, how long does it take diazepam to work, yellow diazepam, diazepam UK, the effects of valium, and much more.

 

 

 

 

Sources

https://www.verywellhealth.com/gaba-5095143

https://www.psychiatry.org/newsroom/news-releases/study-finds-increasing-use-and-misuse-of-benzodiazepines

https://www.verywellfamily.com/negative-and-positive-peer-pressure-differences-2606643

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1011214/

https://www.whatispsychology.net

https://www.khanacademy.org/science/biology/human-biology/neuron-nervous-system/a/neurotransmitters-their-receptors

 

 

 

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