February 2, 2024

Is Valium a Narcotic?

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Medicially Reviewed By:
Dr. Priya Chaudhri
credentials here

Valium is a popular drug used for the treatment of anxiety disorder, insomnia and seizures – but is Valium a narcotic? No, Valium is not a narcotic, but belongs to the benzodiazepine family of sedatives, drugs that have inherent risks, too. 

In fact, the United States Food and Drug Administration recently required that the black box warning for benzos be updated. The agency now provides accurate warnings about the risks of Valium, such as possibly leading to substance abuse or addiction.

What is Valium?

Valium is the brand name of diazepam, which is a benzo in the same class as Ativan, Xanax, and Klonopin. A whopping 92 million prescriptions of benzos were dispensed in 2019. The most common conditions Valium is prescribed to treat include generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, seizures, social phobia, insomnia, and alcohol withdrawal management.

Valium’s sedating effects are caused by the drug’s impact on the central nervous system, slowing down the nerve activity. It also causes the brain to secrete gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which induces a calming effect. Also, as a central nervous system depressant it can cause slowed reaction time and impaired cognitive functioning.

Valium is neither a narcotic nor an opioid, so is not considered as risky as those drugs. The benzo class of drugs has a Schedule IV controlled substance designation, where opioids and narcotics are Schedule II. However, Valium is addictive and prone to abuse, which could also have life-threatening results.

Can Taking Valium as Prescribed Lead to Addiction?

Because Valium, like other benzos, is an addictive drug it is only intended for short-term use. In fact, taking daily doses of Valium for just two or three weeks may result in physical dependence or addiction. 

Through no fault of their own, someone using Valium as prescribed by a doctor could possibly find themselves addicted. Those who continue to use this drug on a long-term basis are further increasing the risk of dependence or addiction.

Signs of Valium abuse and addiction include:

  • Not able to skip a dose or stop using Valium.
  • Take higher doses than prescribed due to increased tolerance.
  • Hyper-focused on obtaining and using Valium.
  • Use Valium with other substances, like alcohol.
  • Continue to use Valium despite the consequences.
  • Drive while under the influence of Valium.
  • No longer fulfill normal daily responsibilities.
  • Withdraw socially.
  • Have withdrawal symptoms when the Valium wears off.

Valium Medical Detox

Like all benzos, Valium should never be stopped without a doctor’s oversight. Quitting this drug cold turkey may result in potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms, thus a doctor will create a tapering plan. Titrating the dosing helps to ease you off of Valium and therefore reduce the pain of withdrawal. By lowering the dosing over a two or three-week period, your brain will gradually adjust.  

A supervised Valium detox closely monitors your vital signs, mental health status, and withdrawal symptoms, and provides medical interventions. 

Symptoms may include:

  • Restlessness
  • Headaches
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Insomnia
  • Mental confusion.
  • Muscle cramps.
  • Tremors
  • Sweating
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Seizures

How Does Valium Affect the Brain?

Recent studies have confirmed that long-term use of Valium can have adverse effects on the brain. This furthers the case to seek treatment for a Valium addiction or dependency sooner rather than later. The sooner that the drug is stopped, the sooner the brain healing can begin.

Research conducted on Valium revealed several ways this drug can impact the brain, including:

  • Brain atrophy.
  • Cerebral ventricular enlargement.
  • Reduced cognitive functioning.
  • Impaired memory function.
  • Increased risk of dementia.

Valium Recovery Treatment

After you have completed detox and withdrawal it’s time to get help for the Valium addiction. This is a necessary phase of recovery, as it helps you change your thought patterns when you feel symptoms of anxiety, stress, fear, or worry. In treatment you will engage in several types of therapy that will give you the tools to make these needed changes. They include:

  • Individual therapy sessions. In these private sessions you will discuss your thought and behavior patterns and learn how to shift them. This helps you stop the reflex to reach for the Valium.
  • Group therapy sessions. You will meet in small groups to share your experiences and feelings with peers in recovery.
  • Family therapy sessions. Addiction often adversely impacts family members, so by engaging in family therapy you can begin the healing process.
  • Relapse prevention. You will identify your triggers or stressors and make a plan on how to respond to them in a healthy way.

Holistic Methods to Help Manage Stress

After leaning on a drug like Valium to manage stress, in recovery you will need to find some new solutions. By using holistic methods, you can learn to relax without the benzo and to avoid a relapse. Consider these holistic activities:

  • Yoga. The movements, positions, and breath work all work to help you get to a calm state of mind. 
  • Mindfulness. You learn how to accept the present feelings without judgment and remind yourself that feelings of anxiety will soon pass.
  • Deep breathing. One of the fastest methods to achieve relaxation is through focused breathing techniques. 
  • Aromatherapy. Using essential oils is highly effective for inducing a sense of calm.
  • Smartphone apps. There is a wide selection of smartphone apps that are designed to provide stress relief.
  • Exercise. A great way to stay ahead of anxiety and stress is through daily exercise.
  • Massage. A Swedish massage is highly effective at releasing muscle tension and ridding toxins from the body.

If you have acquired a dependence on Valium, there is help available. Please reach out for support today.

Valium Detox Near Los Angeles in Agoura Hills & Westlake Village

Elevation Behavioral Health is a luxury residential mental health center that treats primary mental health and dual diagnosis. Once you are dependent or addicted to Valium it is difficult to stop using the drug on your own. At Elevation Behavioral Health, we provide a supportive place of healing where you can safely complete a Valium detox. After that, a treatment program will include therapy and holistic methods to help you live a life without Valium. Call us today at (888) 561-0868

Our team of experts is here to help you.