Valium is the brand name for diazepam, a prescription benzodiazepine that is used in the treatment of anxiety and seizures.
It induces the brain to release a neurotransmitter that depresses the central nervous system, reducing the rate of electrical activity between neurons. This mechanism allows people who would otherwise suffer from panic attacks or seizures to find some measure of relief from their conditions. Sometimes, illegal Valium is cut with other drugs to enhance the euphoric effects of the drug and to stretch dealer supplies to make more money.
When Valium is taken as prescribed and with proper medical supervision, it can be a hugely beneficial drug. In 2003, the Human Psychopharmacology journal noted that Valium (as diazepam) is “one of the most widely used” agents in the treatment of anxiety and similar disorders.
Taking Valium per a doctor’s orders, and engaging in other lifestyle changes to reduce sources of anxiety, can be a very safe way to relieve the symptoms of anxiety disorder as well as curtail seizure activity, promote healthy sleep, and even guard against muscle spasms.
However, when Valium is taken without a legitimate medical need or if it is taken in large doses, too frequently, or in combination with other drugs, it can be a very dangerous substance.
People who have a psychological dependence on Valium for its anti-anxiety properties or who are compelled to engage in risky behavior might combine Valium with other substances — such as other depressants or central nervous stimulants — to experience an increased spectrum of results. In other cases, however, people who get Valium illegally — either off the internet or from a dealer — are trusting that the tablets they buy are diazepam.
In reality, there is often no reliable way of ensuring that drugs purchased illegally are what the consumer expects them to be. Drug manufacturers and their dealers add other substances to their products, as a way of increasing their profits while reducing their expenses. This practice is known as cutting or lacing, and it is a widespread and dangerous trend in the illicit drug trade.
This means that a person who buys a batch of Valium, from an “online pharmacy” or who knows a dealer who can sell them cheap (or “discounted”) Valium, might be getting a tablet that looks like Valium or diazepam but is a combination of unknown substances.
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Sometimes, these substances are other depressants such as benzodiazepines or opioids. It might be easy for a dealer to splice their fake Valium with other benzodiazepines they have to cut costs. They can promote their products as offering an even more intense experience than “regular Valium.”
For some users, this could be very desirable. They might either have legitimate anxiety issues but are unable to pay for legal Valium, or they may be attracted to the extreme sedative effects of two or more central nervous system depressants coming together.
However, this is an incredibly dangerous practice. Valium is a strong medication on its own, and combining it with another substance that has the same effect on the brain can trigger an overdose.
Nervous activity in the brain will slow down to the point that vital systems across the body are deactivated. The respiratory system, for example, may be so heavily impaired that users are in serious danger of experiencing respiratory failure. Similarly, heart rate reduces to the point where multiple organs in the body do not get the blood they need to continue functioning.
If the Valium is cut with an opioid or another depressant, these effects can occur within minutes and so powerfully that the user does not have a chance to seek help. Valium cut with benzodiazepines and narcotics “lowers the threshold for an overdose.”
In other cases, Valium is cut with stimulants. This may again be a dealer’s way of trimming down their own expenses, but some users also seek out the “sweet spot” between the pleasant sedation of a benzodiazepine and the frenzied surge of a central nervous stimulant, which works by inciting the electrical activity in the brain (the mechanism behind the effect of drugs like Adderall and methamphetamine).
This mix is often presented as a way of the depressant canceling the effect of the stimulant, or vice versa, but this does not happen. In reality, taking both drugs increases the risks presented by each one individually.
If Valium is cut with a stimulant, this places a great deal of strain on the heart, which receives conflicting signals to slow down and speed up.
As the heart rate fluctuates, users increase the consumption of their drugs, hoping to regain the balance they were told to expect with cut Valium.
However, this balance never comes. Instead, the Medical Hypotheses journal cautions that the heart is continually subjected to contradictory signals until it goes into cardiac arrest.
Another drug that Valium is cut with is cannabis. In parts of the United Kingdom, drug dealers sell marijuana products laced with any combination of heroin, methadone, and diazepam. The idea is that users, unaware of the true nature of what they are buying and smoking, will become “hooked.” One recovering addict explained that the people who buy the product (mostly teenagers and young adults) “wouldn’t even know what they were smoking.”
In 2014, this caused such a public health problem that the National Health Service had to change its protocols away from treating alcohol overdoses to helping people who overdosed on the Valium-cannabis hybrid (nicknamed “skunk”) they were sold.
Valium has also been known for its use as a date rape drug. The PLoS One journal writes that diazepam is one of the benzodiazepines used by people who intend on committing drug-facilitated sexual assault because it produces both a sedative and an amnesiac effect.
Other symptoms suggestive of improper benzodiazepine consumption, and conducive to sexual assault, include:
In fact, “diazepam is the most frequently encountered benzodiazepine” in such cases, and its mixture with alcohol can speed up the sedative and amnesiac processes. This is not “cutting” in the strictest sense of the term, but it is an example of one way Valium is mixed with another drug — in this case, another central nervous depressant like alcohol — for illicit purposes.
With all the ways it is possible to lace Valium with another drug, how is it possible to differentiate between safe and altered diazepam? The most immediate solution is to only trust Valium that has been prescribed by a known doctor and sold from an established pharmacy. Valium obtained without a prescription, sold by an unlicensed seller, or sold for a “special price” with no questions asked is almost certainly Valium that has been spliced with another drug. You have no way of knowing what is truly in the tablets you are being offered.
Even on the remote chance that the seller is giving you legitimate diazepam, benzodiazepines are still a controlled substance in the United States, and it is illegal to buy and sell them without a doctor’s prescription. Regardless of financial or insurance concerns, nothing good that can come out of obtaining Valium under the table, especially since what you would be paying for might not be Valium at all.
(August 2003). Efficacy of Diazepam as an Anti-anxiety Agent: Meta-analysis of Double-blind, Randomized Controlled Trials Carried Out in Japan. Human Psychopharmacology. Retrieved January 2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12923829
(May 2017). Why Do Drug Dealers Risk Killing Their Buyers With a Fatal Additive? Journal Sentinel. Retrieved January 2019 from https://www.jsonline.com/story/news/crime/2017/05/31/why-do-drug-dealers-risk-killing-their-buyers-fatal-additive/345645001/
(November 2017). Benzodiazepine Overdose. BMJ Best Practice. Retrieved January 2019 from https://bestpractice.bmj.com/topics/en-us/343
(March 2017). Opioid Painkillers, Xanax or Valium a Deadly Mix. WebMD. Retrieved January 2019 from https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/news/20170315/opioid-painkillers-and-xanax-or-valium-a-deadly-mix-study#1
(2007). Dual Intoxication With Diazepam and Amphetamine: This Drug Interaction Probably Potentiates Myocardial Ischemia. Medical Hypotheses. Retrieved January 2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17320309
(February 2014). Hooked: Now Mersey Drug Dealers Are Lacing Skunk Weed With Heroin. Liverpool Echo. Retrieved January 2019 from https://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/hooked-now-mersey-drug-dealers-6735907
(2014). Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault: Detection and Stability of Benzodiazepines in Spiked Drinks Using Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry. PLoS One. Retrieved January 2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3929633/
(October 2012). Screening Analysis for Medicinal Drugs and Drugs of Abuse in Whole Blood Using Ultra-performance Liquid Chromatography Time-of-flight Mass Spectrometry (UPLC-TOF-MS )– Toxicological Findings in Cases of Alleged Sexual Assault. Forensic Science International. Retrieved January 2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22770621
(October 2018). What is Central Nervous System (CNS) Depression? Medical News Today. Retrieved January 2019 from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/314790.php