How to Treat an Addiction to Diazepam (Valium)
Diazepam, or Valium, is one of the most commonly prescribed benzodiazepines in the United States. Often used in the treatment of anxiety disorders, it may also be prescribed to manage seizures, muscle spasms, or withdrawal symptoms related to alcohol detox. It is common for patients who use the drug to develop a physical tolerance to the substance with long-term use; this can be treated on an outpatient basis with a doctor’s supervision with a slow tapering of the dose.
However, when Valium is taken outside of a doctor’s prescription or used in combination with other substances, it can be highly addictive, causing withdrawal symptoms of its own should the person attempt to stop taking the drug. Medical detox and therapeutic treatment is the recommended course of action – professional care that ensures emotional and medical safety throughout the process of putting addiction and drug abuse in the past and stepping into a new future in recovery.
Treating a Valium Addiction
Addiction treatment for Valium will be different for every individual, just as every individual’s experience in addiction is unique. In general, however, the following steps provide a rough guideline followed by most clients in benzodiazepine addiction treatment:
Step 1: Engage in intake and stabilization
Initial stabilization may be necessary for clients who enter detox while struggling with psychosis, hallucinations, delusions, or in a state of overdose. Medical and psychiatric care can help the individual to stabilize physically and mentally and prepare for the process of detox and treatment.
Step 2: Evaluate and assess
After stabilization, it is important for each client to undergo a thorough evaluation and assessment process as needed, undertaking a full medical and psychiatric evaluation as well as screening for underlying medical ailments and possible mental health, behavioral, and/or learning disorders as indicated by a full medical review and psychiatric history.
Step 3: Begin medical detox
The withdrawal syndrome and associated withdrawal symptoms that occur when detoxing off benzodiazepines can be significant; thus, it is recommended that all clients have the 24-hour care and supervision of a medical detox program for the duration of withdrawal. In the event of complications, benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms can be fatal; thus, ongoing medical care should be on standby.
Step 4: Develop a personalized treatment plan
Based on the results of the evaluation and assessment process and in conjunction with the client’s personal goals for treatment and long-term recovery, a unique treatment plan should be created that includes a range of different therapies, each one providing specific and directed support for at least one issue addressed in recovery. That is, if the person is struggling with a co-occurring mental health disorder as identified and diagnosed during the evaluation, then treatment for that mental health disorder should be provided. Similarly, if the client has family members who play a large role in their life, family support and therapy should be included in the treatment plan. Traditional, alternative, and holistic treatments as well as life skills support and relapse prevention should all be included.
Step 5: Participate in anxiety treatment
Most prescriptions for Valium are written with the intent to treat an anxiety disorder, from generalized anxiety disorder to panic disorder or social anxiety. When the client is no longer taking the drugs, anxiety can return, making it necessary to learn other methods of managing symptoms without the use of medication.
Step 6: Participate in insomnia maintenance
Another common reason for the prescription of Valium is for the treatment of insomnia. In some instances, this may be an issue related to anxiety, but whether or not this is the case, learning about positive sleep hygiene and lifestyle changes that can improve the ability to fall and stay asleep will help to mitigate the perceived need for Valium or other sedative drugs.
Step 7: Engage in traditional therapies
Personal therapy, 12-Step meetings, and other support groups are among the traditional therapies that form the basis of most treatment plans for any substance abuse treatment program. Connecting with a therapist individually provides a safe forum to begin the process of working through underlying trauma. Additionally, meeting with peers who are also in recovery in support groups can provide an opportunity to practice positive communication and build new relationships based on health and wellness.
Step 8: Participate in alternative therapies
Depending on the client’s needs and interests, a range of alternative therapies may be appropriate: outdoor and adventure therapies, equine-assisted therapy, arts and dance therapies, nutritional therapy, and more. It is important to explore different styles of therapy to get a range of perspectives and to learn new coping tools for managing anxiety and cravings for Valium.
Step 9: Try holistic treatments
Meditation, yoga, tai chi, and massage and bodywork are just a few holistic treatments that may be particularly beneficial for clients in recovery from benzodiazepine addiction, especially if anxiety or a sleep disorder is part of their diagnoses. Stress management can help to decrease the prevalence of cravings, and holistic treatments that focus on mental and spiritual healing as well as physical wellness can be very helpful for clients in recovery from benzodiazepine addiction.
Step 10: Involve the family
Family members are deeply harmed when a loved one struggles with addiction, and it is imperative that they too have the treatment and support they need to heal as well as learn how best to be a positive support to their family member in recovery. When a significant other or another family member plays an important role in the life of a client, family therapy can be a critical piece in a comprehensive treatment plan.
Step 11: Grow life skills
There are a number of common life obstacles that can make the road to recovery bumpier for some than others, and these issues are best addressed in treatment. For example, if someone is struggling with employment, then building a resume and practicing interview skills are essential. If someone is a parent and working to regain custody of children through the court system, then this must be incorporated in the treatment program as well through connection with legal support, parenting classes, support groups for parents in recovery, and more.
Step 12: Prepare for the temptation of relapse
Learning how not to turn to Valium when stressed out, bored, or otherwise in need of escape from reality is a major focus in every type of therapy and treatment in addiction recovery. Relapse prevention, however, can specifically focus on helping the client to identify any specific triggers for relapse that are likely to arise and to create an appropriate and actionable plan to address that issue healthfully.
Step 13: Engage in aftercare and support
Learning appropriate coping strategies for life issues and getting initial treatment for co-occurring mental health disorders like anxiety begin in drug rehab. However, in order to remain drug-free for the long-term, it becomes imperative for the client to maintain active engagement with recovery for months and years after treatment. Building a strong network of peers who are also in recovery, continuing to grow and heal through mental health treatment, and regularly checking in with a therapist on recovery principles and how best to apply them to issues that come up can all help to ensure that when cravings strike or the urge to justify a return to active drug and alcohol use arises, there are people there to help put things back in perspective.
No matter how addiction to benzodiazepines like diazepam begins, it is important to get professional treatment that is comprehensive and tailored to meet the needs of the individual person. Addiction of any kind is a medical disorder, and the more effective the medical treatment, the more likely it is that the individual will enjoy a long and happy life in recovery.
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