Diazepam, the active ingredient in Valium, belongs to the benzodiazepine class of drugs. Other examples of benzodiazepines include alprazolam (Xanax) or clonazepam.
The antidepressant medication is a stimulant of the central nervous system and helps treat seizures, anxiety disorders, and alcohol withdrawal.
If you or your loved one has been taking Valium for weeks but don’t notice any positive effects, you may have developed a benzodiazepine tolerance.
That means your body has adjusted to it and now needs a different dose or more of the medication to achieve its desired effect.
Symptoms Of A Valium Tolerance
If you have been using Valium for a long time and begin to experience any of these symptoms, it may be time to take a break.
Increasing doses of diazepam can result in a sedative high and pleasurable feelings that, if exploited, may result in the continued abuse of the drug.
Valium tolerance may cause vision impairment, sweating, and muscle spasms or twitching.
Other symptoms associated with abusing diazepam are:
- feeling sleepy
- an intense feeling of happiness
- sense of ease and balance
- increased stress-relief
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Factors That Influence Tolerance To Valium
Many factors contribute to Valium tolerance:
High Doses Of Valium
If you take a high dose of Valium, you are more likely to develop tolerance.
For example, if you take 2 mg of Valium every day for two weeks, and have to increase your dosage to 3 mg for another two weeks, you may have developed tolerance.
The higher your dosage and the longer it has been since your last dosage change, the more likely it is that you will develop tolerance.
Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA) Receptors
Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors are responsible for mediating inhibitory neurotransmission. In other words, they help you relax and calm down.
GABA receptors are also responsible for mediating drug tolerance.
For example, if you take Valium regularly over a long period of time, your body will develop more GABA receptors in response to Valium effects on them.
As a result, you will need larger doses of Valium to achieve its desired effects, leading to the development of tolerance after some time.
Long-Term Benzodiazepine Use
If you use benzodiazepine drugs for an extended period of time, your body may become accustomed to the drug, known as a benzodiazepine dependence.
It may not function normally, requiring you to take higher doses of the medication to achieve the desired effects.
However, after a while, even high doses may no longer be effective, indicating that you have developed tolerance.
How Long Does Diazepam Tolerance Last?
It is impossible to predict how long diazepam tolerance will last. However, your doctor will usually change your antidepressant medication after four weeks.
Consider talking with your doctor about alternative options for treatment.
Although switching from diazepam to another sedative isn’t always feasible, there are other medications that may help you relax without getting addicted.
Effects Of Valium Tolerance
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), mental health problems, panic attacks, and other anxiety disorders are other side effects of benzodiazepine drug use.
Other effects of Valium tolerance include:
Long-term use of Valium can lead to addiction. If you find yourself taking more and more Valium to achieve the same effects, it’s time to seek help.
Valium use can also lead to physical dependence. This means that your body becomes accustomed to it and stops working properly without it.
If you stop taking Valium, you’ll likely start to experience benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms. These can include nausea, vomiting, tremors, and more.
Treatment Options For Benzodiazepine Abuse
Valium substance abuse can also result in life-threatening conditions when combined with substances that have sedative effects, such as opioids or alcohol.
To treat tolerance, discontinue the medication, taper off the substance, detox, or switch to another anxiolytic prescription that you haven’t developed tolerance to.
This is best done in a qualified benzodiazepine detox program, with help from healthcare professionals.
Flumazenil is a benzodiazepine antidote that prevents Valium sedation. It’s usually used as an anticonvulsant when drug abuse causes convulsions.
Chronic abuse can be addressed at home with a doctor’s help or in a drug rehab center. Reduce benzodiazepines gradually to avoid cravings and prevent withdrawal syndrome.
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Contact AddictionResource.net to learn more about Valium tolerance and how you can help combat and treat substance abuse.
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- National Institutes for Health: National Library of Medicine — Mechanisms Underlying Tolerance after Long-Term Benzodiazepine Use: A Future for Subtype-Selective GABAA Receptor Modulators?
- National Institutes for Health: National Library of Medicine — Tolerance liability of diazepam is dependent on the dose used for protracted treatment
- Oxford Academic: Family Practice — Tolerance to benzodiazepines among long-term users in primary care