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In the class of benzodiazepine medications, Its generic name is Diazepam. It is one of the original anti-anxiety medications invented.
Approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1963,Diazepam’s popularity among prescribing physicians quickly overtook barbiturates and made Hoffmann-La Roche, the Swiss company that developed it, a giant in the pharmaceutical industry.
- The drug-taking American public embraced the drug and it became a mainstay on the party scene and in popular culture.
- It is a classified as a Schedule 4 controlled substance in the U.S. and around the world.
Diazepam is a long-acting benzodiazepine and, like other benzos, it creates a sedative effect in areas of the brain responsible for fear, worry or a sense of impending doom. This is one of the reasons it is such an effective medication for people suffering from anxiety-disorders, like chronic panic attacks. Diazepam is also prescribed, at times, for:
- alcohol withdrawal
- restless-leg syndrome
A “common” dose could be 10-20mg. A strong dose might be over 25 mg.
Recreational or non-medical valium use comes in several different forms. People using it for recreational purposes take the drug in one of the following ways:
- crush and snort
- cook to liquid for intravenous use
The mellow sense of well-being and confidence the medication causes makes this drug popular with recreational users seeking a calm and euphoric high.
- getting high on it is not at all free of potential consequences.
“Just like with opioids, people overestimate the benefits and underestimate the risks of benzodiazepines”, Stanford University psychiatry professor Anna Lembke told The Chicago Tribune. “They are effective for a panic attack or severe insomnia, but when taken daily long-term, people develop tolerance and dependence. They stop working and they can even make anxiety and insomnia worse.”
- This is why researchers are saying benzodiazepines, like Diazepam, have created a culture of abuse, dependency and addiction that mirrors the opioid epidemic.
Overdosing on Diazepam is not uncommon, most especially when it’s combined with alcohol or opioids.
- Never combine Diazepam with any other CNS depressant, as this is dangerous and potentially fatal.
Statistics On Use & Abuse
The New England Journal of Medicine, in February, published a study that highlighted the darker side of recreational and medical benzo use:
- The number of benzodiazepine prescriptions between 1996 and 2013 increased by 67 percent, from 8.1 million to 13.5 million
- Benzo-related overdose deaths rose from 1,135 to 8,791 in just 15 years and that number is most likely underreported
- Three-quarters of overdose fatalities with valium and other benzodiazepines involved an opioid
- “Overprescribing of benzodiazepines,” write the study’s authors, “may be fueling the use of illicit analogues, just as overprescribing opioids has fueled increases in heroin and illicit fentanyl use.”
Valium Half-Life – Withdrawal
According to the FDA “the half-life of the active metabolite known as N-desmethyldiazepam can be up to 100 hours. Diazepam and its metabolites are excreted mainly in the urine, predominantly as their glucuronide conjugates. The clearance rate of diazepam is between 20 to 30 mL/min in young adults, and longer in older ones.
Developing an addiction is not hard because tolerance to the drug can happen in a relatively short period of abuse or misuse. However, kicking a valium addiction is difficult because withdrawal from the drug is particularly nasty, with symptoms that can include some of the following:
- Chest pains and muscle aches in the limbs, back and neck
- Headaches, fatigue, weakness and skin sensitive to touch
- Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
- Elevated blood pressure and hypertension
- Insomnia, dysphoria and paranoia
- Heightened depression, anxiety and panic attacks
Abusing Diazepam is particularly fraught for people with a history of substance abuse because of how easy the drug leads to tolerance and dependence. Anyone trying to beat a benzodiazepine addiction should not try to go cold turkey and stop using the drug all at once. That can be dangerous and, perhaps, life threatening. Recovering from a valium dependency or addiction should only be attempted under the care of a qualified physician.
Musician Lou Reed famously references the drug in his 1972 hit song “Walk on the Wild Side,” writing the lyric, “Then I guess she had to crash, it would’ve helped that bash.”
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