Diazepam is subject to Schedule IV control under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. Abuse and dependence of benzodiazepines have been reported. Addiction-prone individuals (such as drug addicts or alcoholics) should be under careful surveillance when receiving diazepam or other psychotropic agents because of the predisposition of such patients to habituation and dependence.
Once physical dependence to benzodiazepines has developed, termination of treatment will be accompanied by withdrawal symptoms. The risk is more pronounced in patients on long-term therapy.
Withdrawal symptoms, similar in character to those noted with barbiturates and alcohol have occurred following abrupt discontinuance of diazepam. These withdrawal symptoms may consist of tremor, abdominal and muscle cramps, vomiting, sweating, headache, muscle pain, extreme anxiety,tension, restlessness, confusion and irritability.
In severe cases, the following symptoms may occur: derealization, depersonalization, hyperacusis, numbness and tingling of the extremities, hypersensitivity to light, noise and physical contact, hallucinations or epileptic seizures. The more severe withdrawal symptoms have usually been limited to those patients who had received excessive doses over an extended period of time.
Generally milder withdrawal symptoms (e.g., dysphoria and insomnia) have been reported following abrupt discontinuance of benzodiazepines taken continuously at therapeutic levels for several months. Consequently, after extended therapy, abrupt discontinuation should generally be avoided and a gradual dosage tapering schedule followed.
Chronic use (even at therapeutic doses) may lead to the development of physical dependence: discontinuation of the therapy may result in withdrawal or rebound phenomena.
Valium is a benzodiazepine prescribed by medical doctors and psychiatrists to treat anxiety and panic attacks. It is also used as a muscle relaxant and sedative. It replaces chemicals normally produced in the brain to slow down abnormally fast electrical activity. Valium problems begin when you use it for an extended period of time. When you quit taking it, your brain is not capable of producing the chemicals fast enough to keep up with the demand; you are physically addicted.
The general feeling of relaxation induced by using Valium is what has made it one of the most commonly abused prescription drugs in the sedative or tranquilizer category. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2.6 million people used a drug in this category for non-medical reasons every month during 2010.
While the most used drug in America may be marijuana, doctors have written more than 60 million prescriptions for sedatives and tranquilizers, including Valium. The Drug Abuse Warning Network reported that 229,230 emergency room visits in 2009 were related to alcohol in combination with sedatives such as Valium. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports prescription painkillers, which would include Valium, are responsible for over 36,000 fatal overdoses annually. This number surpasses the number of deaths attributed to heroin and cocaine.
Teen Valium Abuse
The National Institute on Drug Abuse report for 2011 shows teens are not using sedatives until they reach their senior year in high school. The statistic for 2010 indicates that 5 percent of high school seniors had used some type of tranquilizer for recreational purposes during that year. It should be noted that students in grades eight to 12 were more apt to use Vicodin or OxyContin than other sedatives for nonmedical reasons. The Department of Health and Family Services says teenagers who have used sedatives for nonmedical reasons get them from friends or family members who have a valid prescription; most are given to them at no cost.
Legislation and policymaking involving Valium
- Tennessee has recently passed legislation banning benzodiazepines, like Valium, from being dispensed in greater than a 30-day supply. (source)
- Ireland is planning stricter controls on benzodiazepines like Valium to reduce abuse and illicit trade.