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Key Points

  • Valium is part of a drug class called benzodiazepines, which are high risk for abuse and addiction
  • Taking Valium for a long period of time can lead to developing a tolerance which puts an individual at a higher risk for overdose
  • Valium addiction is diagnosed taking multiple factors into consideration
  • Some individuals are more susceptible to developing an addiction to Valium than others
  • Detoxing from Valium on your own can lead to potentially fatal consequences
  • Help for a Valium addiction is available

Whether you’ve been prescribed Valium as part of medication assisted treatment (MAT), to treat anxiety or another disorder, or you’ve been taking the substance recreationally, it’s important to understand the addiction potential of this medication.

Here’s what you need to know.

First: Why is Valium Prescribed?

Valium is the brand name for diazepam, a medication commonly prescribed to treat various medical and mental health conditions, including anxiety disorders, seizure disorders, muscle spasms, and sedation prior to medical procedures. This drug is sometimes also used in the management of alcohol withdrawal symptoms[1], such as agitation and tremors.

Valium may be prescribed for:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Panic disorders
  • Insomnia or other sleep disorders
  • Muscle spasms
  • Seizures (both febrile seizures and epilepsy)
  • Alcohol withdrawal symptoms
  • Sedation for medical procedures
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Agitation caused by neurological disorders.

While Valium medication has the potential to help improve symptoms and side effects of common ailments, misuse or abuse of this medication can result in adverse effects.


Valium Addiction Potential

Valium can be effective in managing certain conditions, it also has a high potential for addiction.

Valium belongs to the class of drugs known as benzodiazepines, which are central nervous system depressants that produce calming and pleasurable effects, such as euphoria, relaxation, and anxiety relief. These pleasurable effects all contribute to the drug’s high risk for abuse.

When Valium is taken for an extended period of time, tolerance may develop. This can lead to requiring higher doses to achieve the desired effects, contributing to addiction and potential overdose.

What are the Signs of a Valium Addiction?

If you or someone you know is taking Valium–prescription or otherwise–it is important to recognize the signs of addiction.

Someone who has developed an addiction to Valium may exhibit the following signs and symptoms:

Increased tolerance: Over time, someone taking Valium can develop a tolerance to the effects of the drug, requiring higher doses and more frequent use to achieve the desired effect.

  • Compulsive use: An individual with an addiction to Valium may begin to engage in compulsive drug-seeking behaviors, such as purchasing more of the drug off the street or using the drug with alcohol or other sedative drugs to enhance the effects
  • Mood and behavioral changes: As Valium becomes the highest priority in the individual’s life, withdrawing from social situations where the drug cannot be used, secrecy, neglect of responsibilities, and agitation when not taking the drug may occur.
  • Continued use despite negative consequences: Someone with a Valium addiction often continues to prioritize the drug regardless of the associated negative consequences, such as financial difficulties, strains on interpersonal relationships, or health consequences.
  • Feeling a loss of control: Addiction can lead to feelings of helplessness or lack of control over use. Someone who has become addicted to Valium may experience feelings of powerlessness over the drug.
  • Withdrawal symptoms: Upon trying to stop or reduce Valium use, someone who has developed an addiction may experience symptoms such as irritability, insomnia, muscle cramps, anxiety, tremors, and in severe cases, seizures.

Valium addiction is not likely to improve on its own. If you or someone you know is exhibiting any of these signs and symptoms, seek help from a medical or mental health care provider right away.

How is a Valium Addiction Diagnosed?

How is a Valium Addiction Diagnosed?

A Valium addiction is diagnosed by a licensed medical provider or addiction specialist taking a variety of factors into consideration, including diagnostic criteria as listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association..

To diagnose a Valium addiction, a clinical interview may be conducted, as well as a physical and psychological examination and sometimes urine or blood tests to determine how much of the drug is in an individual’s system.

Valium addiction is a complex condition, and one single test is not indicative of addiction or lack thereof.

What are the Short and Long Term Effects of a Valium Addiction?

Benzodiazepines such as Valium have similar short-term and long term effects on the brain and body. Some of these effects include:

Short Term Effects Long Term Effects
Sedation Tolerance
Impaired coordination and risk of falls Dependence and addiction
Memory and cognitive impairment Respiratory problems, and cardiovascular conditions
Mood changes Increased risk for Alzheimer’s Disease[2]
Behavioral changes Liver damage

The severity of Valium side effects differ from individual to individual, depending on length of use, dosage, body composition, and any underlying medical conditions.

Treatment Options for Valium Addiction

Valium addiction may feel all-encompassing, as if you will forever be stuck in a cycle of drug abuse, helplessness, and hopelessness.

This doesn’t have to be your story. There is help available.

If you or a loved one is struggling with a Valium addiction, call and speak with a member of our team today and discover how to get your life back on track.

Frequently Asked Questions About Valium Addiction

Frequently Asked Questions About Valium Abuse and Addiction

Do you have more questions about Valium abuse and addiction? We’ve answered some of the most common questions below.

Taking too much Valium can result in potentially life-threatening symptoms.

Signs of a Valium overdose include excessive sedation, increased confusion, severely impaired coordination, slowed or labored breathing, and loss of consciousness. In more severe cases, a Valium overdose can lead to respiratory failure, coma, and even death.

The risk of overdose increases when Valium is used in combination with other substances that depress the central nervous system. These substances include alcohol[3], opioids, or other benzodiazepines.

The risk of overdose is higher in individuals who have a history of substance use disorders, liver or kidney conditions, or respiratory disorders.

If you suspect that you or someone you know has overdosed on Valium, seek medical attention immediately.


While addiction is an equal opportunity disease, some individuals are at higher risk than others.
Those who have a history of substance abuse, particularly sedatives or alcohol, may be more susceptible to developing a Valium addiction.


Abruptly stopping Valium after prolonged use can lead to withdrawal symptoms.

Withdrawal from Valium can be severe and potentially life-threatening, especially for individuals who have taken higher doses of the drug for extended periods of time. If you are trying to quit taking Valium, it is important that you do so under supervision of a healthcare provider to prevent withdrawal complications.




Tolerance to Valium develops when the body becomes accustomed to the drug’s presence and adapts to its effects over time. When this occurs, an individual may need to take higher doses of Valium to achieve the same effects that were first experienced with lower doses, and result in overdose.

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[1] Weintraub S. J. (2017). Diazepam in the Treatment of Moderate to Severe Alcohol Withdrawal. CNS drugs, 31(2), 87–95. Retrieved April 5, 2023 from

[2] Harvard Health Publishing. (2014, September 10). Benzodiazepine use may raise risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Harvard Health Blog. Retrieved April 5, 2023 from

[3] Linnoila, M I. (n.d.) “Benzodiazepines and alcohol.” Journal of psychiatric research vol. 24 Suppl 2. Retrieved April 5, 2023 from

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At Absolute Awakenings, we take information integrity seriously. We have dedicated our resources to ensure that all content published to our blog is medically sound. As such, all content on our blog has been thoroughly reviewed by a doctorate level clinician such as a Medical Doctor, or Psy.D, so that you can trust all of the data we publish.

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