Consistently getting a good night’s rest is an essential ingredient in the recipe for good health. Sleep regulates bodily systems and plays a significant role in the brain storing information received throughout the day. Without adequate sleep, an individual cannot function properly.
It is understandable how someone having trouble sleeping would turn to prescription medications. Unfortunately, sleep drugs like Valium are not a long-term solution for sleep disorders. It can make the condition worse and lead to addiction.
Things That Can Interfere With Sleep
People get hooked on Valium after initially seeking insomnia or related sleep disorder treatment. It is essential, however, to identify the things that led a person to become sleep-deprived in the first place so they can get long-lasting relief.
Mental Health Disorders
In other words, the real problem may not be poor sleep itself. Mental health disorders are often to blame for nightly disturbances and insomnia.
For example, those with a generalized anxiety disorder may have psychological symptoms that keep them up (e.g., a racing heart rate). Obsessive-compulsive disorder can cause a person to re-run scenarios in their head for hours to work out uncertainties regarding a particular stressor. Night terrors can cause a person to relive a horrible memory while suffering from PTSD.
Unpacking and working through emotional baggage with a therapist could be the key to restful sleep.
A person’s sleep schedule could also get thrown off by the following:
- medical conditions
- abuse of drugs or alcohol
- misusing sleep medications
- withdrawal from substances
- consuming too much caffeine or nicotine
- going to bed too late/over exhausting oneself
- being exposed to too much blue light before bed
The Purpose of Valium
Valium belongs to a class of drugs called benzodiazepines, which are predominantly prescribed to relieve:
- muscle spasms
- and alcohol withdrawal symptoms
It is also used off-label to treat insomnia. It can help a person fall asleep faster and wake up less during the night. Like the commonly prescribed sleep medication, Ambien, Valium is at high risk of abuse and can lead to addiction.
Withdrawal Can Be Dangerous
As a central nervous system depressant, Valium decreases activity in the brain. Its effects include relaxation, sedation, and euphoria.
This pleasurable experience does not last long and can quickly lead a person to crave more. It becomes more challenging to get the same feeling over a short period of use. An individual that did not have an existing mental health disorder may develop one as their brain function and subsequent behaviors change.
Benzodiazepines are addictive, and if stopped abruptly (particularly at high doses), serious withdrawal symptoms could be triggered, such as:
- fast heart rate
- difficulty breathing
- death from convulsions
- delusions and delirium
Valium should not be prescribed for an extended period of time. Chronic use of benzodiazepines can impair psychomotor (e.g., moving) and cognitive (e.g., thinking) abilities, and pulmonary functions can be damaged. The individual may experience some types of memory loss (but not all).
How long it takes for a person’s cognitive functions to recover after coming off of benzodiazepines is uncertain. One study points out “compelling evidence not supporting full [recovery] of cognitive function, at least in the first six months after cessation.” This suggests that a person may have permanent cognitive deficits.
One study explained how sensory and short-term memory and a type of long-term memory involving language and rules might be unaffected by benzodiazepines. On the other hand, episodic memory (another kind of long-term memory) is compromised.
Treating Sleep Problems
Sleep troubles are often treated with medications that can further impede a person’s ability to develop a consistent sleep pattern. When Valium or other medications are prescribed, they are intended to be used for about a week to help a person get into a routine. When a person misuses and develops an addiction, other sleep medications may not be an option if they have addictive potential.
Nonpharmacological approaches may be needed to help individuals get some sleep and recover from an addiction that may have developed from misusing Valium. The following suggestions from SAMSHA are designed for those in recovery with sleep troubles:
- Practice mindfulness meditation to relax, reduce stress, and improve self-control.
- Engage in progressive muscle relaxation by tensing and relaxing different muscles.
- Participate in biofeedback therapy to become aware of physiologic stress responses and how to control them.
- Work through dysfunctional thought patterns causing insomnia, and learn to modify behaviors to improve one’s emotional state in cognitive behavior therapy (CBT).
- Exercise regularly to boost endorphins and release pent-up anxiety. Exercise also serves to become tired.
- Engage in bright-light therapy, where the client is exposed to natural bright light while awake to normalize sleep patterns.
Other natural sleep aids include:
- chamomile tea
- lavender essential oils
- listening to 432Hz music
- receiving sound bath therapy
- valerian or wild lettuce extract
Having a lousy sleep once in a while is an inconvenience. When this becomes a pattern, it can interfere with a person’s wellbeing. Taking Valium to relieve insomnia can be risky because it can easily be abused and lead to worsened health outcomes. Avalon Malibu is an addiction and mental health treatment center in Malibu, CA. We recognize that sleep conditions like insomnia are key symptoms of many mental health disorders. Addiction can cause insomnia, and insomnia can also lead to addiction. These conditions will continue to reinforce each other unless treated together. Our clinical team understands how Valium addiction affects the mind and body and will work closely with clients to ease them into recovery. We aim to address all areas our clients may struggle in so treatment is effective. Call to learn more about our approach to treating Valium addiction: (844) 857-5992