People who are addicted to Valium often begin their addiction careers slowly. One day, they take one pill. The next day, they take two. In time, using slow and steady steps, they increase the dosage until they’ve made such persistent changes in the brain that they feel unwell when they don’t have access to the drug.
Weaning away from Valium is the best way to achieve sobriety, as a taper allows the brain to adjust without throwing the body into discomfort, and it progresses in much the same way an addiction progresses. Slowly, the person takes smaller and smaller doses of the drug until the person is taking no drugs at all. It’s a simple concept, but it can be a little tricky to handle the steps properly. The person’s addiction history, along with physical and mental health concerns, can impact the speed of the tapering.
Traditionally, people who abuse Valium visit with a mental health professional and the two develop a rigorous tapering schedule that’s based on the amount of Valium the person has taken in the recent past. The person is given just enough medication for appropriate doses between appointments, and the person is also asked to go to therapy to learn more about addiction as the taper moves forward. It’s not painful, as the steps are typically slight, but people may feel slightly:
- Unable to sleep
Major discomfort might mean that the tapering is moving at too rapid a pace, and the schedule might be adjusted accordingly. In most cases, however, people don’t have difficulty with the scheduling, and they continue to live at home and handle the details of daily life as the process moves forward.
Often, people who take Valium do so in concert with other addictive drugs. For example, a study in the Journal of Substance Abuse measured poly-drug use in people who had been arrested for driving under the influence. In this study, 20 percent of drivers were using alcohol with benzodiazepines, and 18 percent of drivers were combining amphetamines with benzodiazepines. Blending addictive drugs in this manner can make tapering slightly more difficult, as the symptoms people experience during the step-down might be slightly more intense and more difficult to deal with. In a study of this issue, published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, people who took drugs like Valium alone and those who combined drugs had the same withdrawal symptoms, but those who combined drugs had more severe symptoms, even though they weren’t withdrawing from other drugs at the time. Poly-drug abuse seems to cause more intense damage, and this can make recovery just more complicated.
People who have mental illnesses may experience the same kinds of difficulty during a taper. For example, a study in the journal Psychological Medicine found that personality disorders made withdrawal symptoms more severe, typically in the early days of a taper, when symptoms are typically mild and easy to handle. It’s unclear why this would be the case, but it’s possible that people with mental illnesses already live with feelings of anxiety and nervousness, and the augmentation of those feelings during a taper could lead to an unbearable sensation that’s hard to deal with.
People with issues like this might benefit from inpatient therapy, particularly during the early days of the weaning process. In a formal detox program, they’ll have access to medical professionals who can adjust doses on the spot, reducing discomfort almost immediately. Medical staff might even change medications, switching people from Valium to another benzodiazepine that’s slightly less powerful. A switch like this might also help to reduce discomfort.
In an inpatient program, people will also have around-the-clock access to counselors and mental health professionals who can help them to talk through and process all of the feelings that might crop up during a taper. If people know the feelings are considered natural and normal, they might be slightly less upset as a result.
If you need inpatient help for a Valium addiction, please call us. At Axis, we can provide hospital-grade detoxification services, developing a tapering schedule that meets your needs and provides you with a safe recovery. We can also provide you with counselors who can discuss your concerns and help you learn to amend your behavior in the future. Please call us to schedule an intake appointment.