Valium is a prescription drug that is a type of benzodiazepine. These medications are some of the most widely prescribed in the United States. Because it is so frequently prescribed, Valium abuse has become a widespread problem.
Valium is the trade name for the drug Diazepam. It first appeared in 1963 and soon became the world’s most widely prescribed drug – the first in history to reach $1 billion in sales. This was in part a result of aggressive marketing. Valium usage reached its peak in 1978 when Americans consumed more than two billion pills. Although other benzodiazepines are now available, Valium is still widely used.
Valium is classified as a Schedule IV drug by the Controlled Substance Act. Schedule IV drugs, substances or chemicals are defined as drugs with a low potential for abuse, and low risk of dependence. Nevertheless, the problem of Valium addiction has existed since it was first introduced. In the 1970s it was discovered that Elvis Presley was a Valium abuser. In 1978, First Lady Betty Ford revealed that she also struggled with Valium addiction. Although the number of prescriptions written for Valium has decreased over the years, Valium addiction remains a serious problem.
The Effects of Valium Abuse
Valium is a depressant and works by stimulating the production of a chemical in the brain called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA sends messages between brain cells. When GABA activity increases it slows down brain activity.
Valium is prescribed for a variety of reasons, including sedation and the relief of anxiety. It can also be used as an anticonvulsant to treat muscle spasms. It is taken orally although some Valium abusers crush the pills into a powder and snort it in order to get a faster effect. Some of the side effects of Valium abuse include:
- Memory problems
- Drowsiness, tired feeling
- Dizziness, spinning sensation
- Feeling restless or irritable
- Muscle weakness
- Nausea, constipation
- Drooling or dry mouth, slurred speech
- Blurred vision, double vision
- Mild skin rash, itching
- Loss of interest in sex