Valium looks totally harmless. In fact, some of the pills could be considered cute. The bright green color encircles the letter “V,” which looks a bit like a heart. It’s easy to see why people would think that this medication is safe to use and abuse, as pills that look this pretty don’t seem like they could ever cause harm. As people with addictions know all too well, however, Valium can be incredibly dangerous. In fact, harboring a Valium addiction over a long period of time could be disastrous for a person’s health.
Valium is designed to reduce overactive portions of the brain, allowing a person to feel calm and at ease, no matter what might be swirling about them. For people who have mental illnesses, this help can be invaluable, but people who do not have mental illnesses and who take Valium might be slowing down a normally functioning brain. This slow, sleepy brain might be unable to respond to important stimulus, such as emotion. People with Valium addictions sometimes report “emotional blunting,” a condition in which they’re unable to feel any emotions at all. They may not feel joy at a wedding or sorrow at a funeral. They may just feel numb.
Other people who take Valium for long periods of time develop persistent feelings of depression. According to research published in the journal Psychological Medicine, those feelings might increase when a person attempts to stop taking Valium. It’s so common that depression is just considered part of the withdrawal process for people who abuse Valium. It’s unclear how long this depression might last, but in some people, the symptoms could be permanent.
A sleepy, sedated brain can’t process problems quickly and come up with appropriate solutions. As a result, people who are currently taking Valium may not perform well on tests of memory or spatial concepts. Experts now say that damage can persist, long after people stop taking Valium. In one study, published in the journal Psychological Medicine, researchers studied people currently taking benzodiazepines like Valium for at least one year, as well as people who had stopped taking the drugs. These people were given tests of visual-spatial ability and attention. Those who took the high levels of drugs, including people who had stopped taking them, performed poorly on the test, when compared to controls. This seems to indicate that the drugs cause long-term damage.
People who sustain damage like this might not even know it has occurred, or they might find some tasks to be slightly harder to complete than they were in the past. For example, they might struggle with:
- Taking notes during a long lecture
- Reading maps
- Paying attention in conversation
- Completing art projects
Some people might never miss the abilities they had lost, but others might maintain a nagging suspicion that they simply aren’t the same as they once were. These people might mourn their losses, further adding to the depressive symptoms they have already demonstrated.
Reading about persistent damage can be scary, especially if you’ve taken Valium for years and you’ve been unable to stop abusing the drug on your own. We know how hard it can be to quit, and we’d like to help. At Axis, we provide both inpatient and outpatient programs for addiction, and we can help you overcome a Valium abuse issue. Please contact us to find out more.