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Are There Less Addictive Drug Alternatives to Valium?

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ValiumSince the 1960s, Valium has been prescribed as an anti-anxiety agent, a muscle relaxant, a sleep aid and an anti-seizure medication. Like other drugs classified as benzodiazepines, Valium, also known as diazepam, works by targeting the brain cells that bind with GABA, a naturally produced chemical that can make you feel peaceful, calm and drowsy.1

When the brain and nerves are overactive—as is the case with anxiety or seizures—Valium can slow down its electrical impulses and restore stability.

On the positive side, Valium can be highly effective at the short-term treatment of anxiety, insomnia or muscle spasms. On the negative side, Valium can be quite addictive. Tolerance to this drug can develop very quickly, which is why it is usually prescribed for brief periods of time or on an as-needed basis. When Valium is abused for its sedative, intoxicating effects, it doesn’t take long before the user needs more of the medication to achieve the same high.

What Are the Alternatives?

For patients who have a history of substance abuse or who are vulnerable to addictive drugs, benzodiazepines like Valium are not recommended. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, overuse of Valium can cause surges in the level of dopamine—a neurotransmitter that creates feelings of happiness, contentment or euphoria—in the brain.2 These dopamine surges reinforce the need to use more Valium in order to get the same pleasurable feelings. Fortunately, there are other prescription drugs that can control anxiety, muscle tension or seizures without exposing the user to the risk of abuse, including the following:

  • Anti-anxiety agents: Antidepressant medications have been used successfully to relieve the symptoms of anxiety disorders. These prescription drugs can be taken for extended periods of time and have a low potential for abuse. Antidepressants used in the treatment of anxiety include SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) like Celexa, Lexapro, Paxil and Prozac; SNRIs (serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors) like Effexor and Cymbalta; and tricyclic antidepressants like Elavil or Pamelor. Buspirone is another anxiolytic drug that has been used to treat the symptoms of anxiety.
  • Muscle relaxants: Kemstro, Lioresal and Gablofen are brand names for baclofen, an anti-spasmodic drug with a low abuse potential. Baclofen works by binding with GABA receptor sites. Flexeril, or cyclobenzaprine, is another muscle relaxant that is less addictive than Valium. Flexeril prevents muscle cramps by blocking pain signals to the brain.
  • Anti-seizure medications: Diazepam can be used to prevent acute seizures in patients going through alcohol withdrawal or in individuals with seizure disorders. However, it is not recommended for long-term use because of the potential for tolerance and addiction. Less addictive anti-seizure drugs include Tegretol, or carbamazepine; Neurontin, or gabapentin; Dilantin, or phenytoin; and Depakote, or divalproex.

Finding the Right Medications

It’s not always easy to find a medication that works for you. Many people who suffer from anxiety or chronic muscle spasms must try multiple prescription drugs before they find a medication that relieves their symptoms. Along with pharmaceutical therapy, stress management techniques like meditation, yoga, creative therapies, physical exercise and massage can help reduce the symptoms of anxiety or chronic pain.

At Michael’s House, we are dedicated to helping our patients break free from the cycle of Valium addiction and relapse. Our recovery programs offer holistic, personalized solutions to the problem of Valium abuse. If you’re ready to find help, call our admissions coordinators today at our 24 hour, toll-free helpline, 760.548.4032, for a confidential discussion of your needs.


1 "Prescription Drugs: Abuse and Addiction." NIDA. October 2011. Web. Accessed 24 August 2017.

2 "Like opioids and cannabinoids, diazepam and other benzodiazepines take the brakes off activity of dopamine-producing neurons." NIDA. 19 April 2012.Web. Accessed 24 August 2017.