Is Valium a narcotic? No. Valium (diazepam) is neither a medical nor legal narcotic. Narcotic is a term frequently used to describe certain drugs in the U.S., especially those that are illicit or habit-forming, but this is not entirely accurate. Instead, a narcotic is a type of drug which includes prescription painkillers (opioids), such as Vicodin and Oxycodone. Along with prescription drugs, heroin and other illicitly-made opioids, such as fentanyl, are narcotics.
However, Valium is classified by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as a Schedule IV drug, meaning that there is potential for abuse and physical and emotional dependence. Still, Valium is not as dangerous or addictive as many other psychoactive and intoxication drugs.
Valium belongs to a drug class known as benzodiazepines (benzos). Benzos are commonly prescribed to treat individuals with anxiety and panic disorders and sometimes seizures and insomnia.
About Controlled Substances
Wanting to recognize the abuse potential of specific medications, Congress put forth the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) in 1970 as part of a much broader plan to deter future abuse of both legal and illicit substances.
The Act requires that the companies and distributors such as pharmacies and doctors who make or sell prescription medication work to ensure the safe and appropriate delivery of controlled substances classified within the five schedules.
Each schedule aims to organize drugs according to their potential for abuse, medical value, and safety standards. For example, Schedule I drugs, such as heroin, are considered the most dangerous, decreasing in potential risk to Schedule V.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and DEA consider aggregated research on each medication’s effectiveness and risks when ascertaining which drugs are relatively safe to use and not dangerous or deemed to have no legitimate medical purpose.
Any drug entering the prescription or illicit drug market is subject to a review by the DEA. If the agency determines if a drug has the potential for abuse or use for purposes other than intended, then the drug will be placed under the appropriate schedule, meaning that it is considered a controlled substance.
Why Valium Is a Controlled Substance
Valium, like most benzos, is classified as a Schedule IV controlled substance. Substances placed under the Schedule IV classification are considered to have a lower potential for abuse and dependence but still come with risks when misused.
Substances categorized as Schedule IV are identified because abusing them can lead to physical or psychoemotional dependence. However, this may be considered less risky than medications or other substances classified in other schedules. Unlike heroin, they are also considered to have legitimate medical purposes.
Adverse Consequences of Valium Abuse
Abusing Valium (diazepam) can negatively influence multiple aspects of an individual’s life. Over time, Valium abuse can significantly impact a person’s physical and mental health and how they think and feel.
Depending on circumstances, when people engage in illegal behaviors involving illicitly obtained drugs or misused prescriptions, they may incur a number of adverse consequences, including the following:
- Legal issues, including incarceration
- Fines and financial difficulties
- Community service
- House arrest and electronic tagging
- Strained and broken relationships
- Increased risk of injury to oneself or others
Of note, a permanent criminal record related to drug use can hinder a person’s ability to maintain a job, be approved for college or student loans, vote, own a handgun, or enlist in the military.
Finding Professional Help for Drug Abuse and Addiction
Individuals who are struggling to overcome Valium abuse will likely need help to surmount it. When a person abuses Valium, their brain and body can rapidly become reliant on it, resulting in a need for the drug to function normally. Once dependence has developed, it can be challenging to overcome.
Importantly, abruptly stopping medications is never advisable but can be especially dangerous when benzos are involved. The sudden removal of Valium from a body that has become dependent on it can cause unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.
Breaking the cycle of Valium abuse, dependence, and addiction can be challenging to do independently. However, formal addiction treatment programs can help individuals work through their addictive and destructive behaviors and provide them with the education, tools, and support they need to regain control of their lives.
Just Believe Detox and Just Believe Recovery offer customized, comprehensive programs comprised of a wide variety of therapeutic services and enjoyable experiential activities including, but not limited to, the following:
- Medical detox
- Peer group support
- Dual diagnosis treatment
- Substance abuse education
- Health and wellness education
- Mindfulness meditation
- Art and music therapy
- Aftercare planning
- Alumni events