Valium is one of the original medications to come out of the benzodiazepine class of drugs.
It’s often prescribed to people to take before they go in for surgery or another invasive medical procedure in order to keep them calm and sedated prior to what can be a very stressful experience. It may also be used to treat anxiety and panic disorders, though this practice became much less common after it was found that benzodiazepines like Valium are addictive substances and can cause a number of health issues, some of them serious. In spite of this, Valium is still an incredibly common medication.
Drugs like Valium produce tolerance in those who take them for an extended period of time. This means that people must take higher and higher doses in order to get the same effect. Benzodiazepines target certain areas of the brain, increasing the activity of GABA neurotransmitters. In order to compensate for the unusual activity, the brain makes this area less sensitive to try and bring things back to normal. Over time, these changes can become significant enough that people who stop taking Valium or have their dose lowered will experience withdrawal – a set of unpleasant symptoms that last until the brain can readjust back to the way it was before the individual started taking the drug.
Valium Withdrawal Symptoms
Valium withdrawal symptoms can be both physical and emotional, but the emotional symptoms tend to be more severe. Because Valium reduces anxiety and tension, people who stop taking it often experience a resurgence of these symptoms. In some cases, patients may experience something called “rebound anxiety” in which this issue becomes worse after they stop taking Valium than it was before they began taking the drug. This is generally a temporary problem, but it severe cases, new medication or other treatment may be required to control the anxiety. This can also happen with insomnia and other health issues.
Benzodiazepines are one of the few substances that can cause life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. This typically only happens if someone who has been taking a high dose of one of these drugs for a long time stops taking it all at once. It’s highly recommended to instead see a doctor to set up a program in which you are gradually weaned from the medication. However, even a small reduction in dosage can cause uncomfortable symptoms.
Common Valium withdrawal symptoms include:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Muscle pain
- Stomach upset
- Tingling or numbness of the extremities
- Suicidal ideation
Compared to many other drugs, Valium and other benzodiazepines have a rather long withdrawal period. Symptoms appear around a day after the last dose was taken, peak after a couple days, and can last up to two weeks. The emotional symptoms in particular tend to last the longest, and in rare cases, people have reported anxiety and sleep issues lasting for months after other symptoms have diminished.
Despite the fact that Valium withdrawal can be very difficult, it’s important not to stay on this drug for very long. Long-term use of benzodiazepines has been associated with serious cognitive and emotional problems. Addiction and overdose are also serious concerns. Fortunately, with the help of medical professionals, Valium withdrawal can be effectively managed.