Valium is a common prescription medication that contains the ingredient diazepam. It’s used to treat several problems, including anxiety. It’s usually safe and well-tolerated for people who take it as prescribed. But it may not be the right medication for everyone. Although Valium is relatively safe, it is a potentially addictive substance that can cause tolerance, dependence, and substance use disorders. Some may be interested in a non-addictive anxiety medication to replace Valium.There are numerous alternatives to Valium, depending on your reason for using the medication. Valium is just one member of a broad class of drugs called benzodiazepines, which is a category of a larger category called central nervous system depressants.
Individuals can use different types of meditation, breathing techniques, or therapies to deal with anxiety. For those who use Valium to treat seizures, many other medications can be substituted. It’s important to speak to your doctor about your options, but it’s a good idea to learn about the alternatives that may be available to you.
Valium (diazepam) is a benzodiazepine prescribed to treat issues with clinically serious anxiety and seizures. It can even be used to address withdrawal symptoms from alcohol or other drugs.
Valium is a controlled substance that produces effects similar to those of alcohol when abused. Like other benzodiazepines, it can lead to physical dependence. Valium is often not the primary drug of abuse for individuals who abuse it. It is often abused in combination with alcohol or other prescription medications.
Non-addictive alternatives to Valium vary, depending on the symptoms being treated.
Non-addictive Alternatives to Seizure Control
People who use benzodiazepines for seizure control have other options available to them. There are many anticonvulsant medications available on the market, including medications like Tegretol (carbamazepine).
These prescription medications must be taken under the supervision of a physician, but they are non-addictive.
Recently, the extract from cannabis cannabidiol was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of seizures. This extract does not contain significant amounts of the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana and other cannabis products (THC). It should not lead to issues with abuse.
The treatment of seizures should be undertaken under the supervision of a physician only, preferably a specialist like a neurologist. Use of vitamins, herbs, or other over-the-counter remedies is not recommended for anyone experiencing seizures.
Seizures require medical supervision because of their associated potential dangers, such as brain damage or even death.
When Valium is used to treat anxiety disorders, many non-addictive methods can substitute for its use.
Anxiety disorders represent psychiatric disorders where the major driving factor is dysfunctional anxiety. This is both quantitatively and qualitatively different from usual issues with daily nervousness.
Anxiety disorders require a formal diagnosis from a licensed mental health physician who follows specific diagnostic criteria.
Anxiety disorders cannot be self-diagnosed. No one should attempt to use benzodiazepines like Valium to address anxiety without the supervision of a physician.
These disorders produce significant distress and can harm those who have them. Therefore, anyone attempting to deal with an anxiety disorder should be under the supervision of a mental health professional regardless of the treatment they use.
Therapeutic Alternatives to Dealing With Anxiety
The use of Valium and other benzodiazepines in the treatment of anxiety disorders has a long history. However, because of the rapid development of tolerance to these medications and their potential to be abused, they should not be considered a long-term treatment for anxiety disorders.
There is a large variety of alternative methods to deal with clinically significant anxiety. The methods include:
- Different types of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) that address an individual’s thinking patterns and behavior. Numerous techniques from cognitive behavioral therapy can be used to treat clinically significant anxiety successfully.
- Exposure techniques where individuals are confronted with anxiety-provoking stimuli.
- Progressive relaxation and diaphragmatic breathing. This can be added to exposure techniques or different types of cognitive behavioral therapy to increase the effectiveness of the treatment in reducing anxiety.
- Imagery and structured techniques like systematic desensitization. Individuals can learn to control their levels of anxiety by starting with easy situations that provoke mild anxiety and then advancing to more difficult situations.
- Different types of complementary therapies, such as music therapy, art therapy, psychodrama, and others.
Therapy should be performed by trained, licensed individuals only.
In many instances, those who learn to deal with their anxiety through therapy can eventually scale back on their therapy sessions and apply the techniques themselves throughout their lives.
Other Ways to Address Anxiety Disorders
Other techniques to address anxiety include:
- Different types of meditation, such as mindfulness, that reduce stress and anxiety
- Martial arts, yoga, and other forms of exercise
- Support groups
Some herbs, vitamin supplementation, and other nutritional aids are used to reduce their anxiety. These are best used under the supervision of a physician since many herbal products and vitamin supplements could counter act w prescribed medications.
Many of the claims made by the manufacturers of these products are not substantiated. In addition, certain products may contain ingredients that could be counterproductive or even potentially harmful.
The FDA is introducing a new plan to deal with this growing problem.
Other Medications for Anxiety
There are other medications used for clinically significant anxiety that may not have the same abuse potential as Valium.
For instance, some antidepressants like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, such as Prozac (fluoxetine) and Zoloft (sertraline), have been used in the treatment of anxiety successfully. The medication BuSpar (buspirone) may also be useful in treating certain types of anxiety, and it does not have the same abuse potential as Valium.
Though these medications may not be significant medications of abuse, they still may produce mild withdrawal symptoms if an individual discontinues them on their own.
They should only be used under the supervision of a physician and not for reasons other than their prescribed purposes.
Are There Valium Over-the-Counter Alternatives?
Several over-the-counter options are sold to treat anxiety and sleep disorders. Although, there are fewer that are proven to be effective in treating seizures. Several supplements and over-the-counter drugs are believed to contribute to mental health.
Some may help relieve your anxiety or lift your mood. Of course, the effects of most over-the-counter (OTC) medications will be mild in comparison to a benzodiazepine like Valium. But what is the best supplement to replace diazepam? Are there over-the-counter drugs similar to diazepam? Here are a few options:
- 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP). 5-HTP is a naturally occurring chemical in your body that can also be introduced through an over-the-counter supplement. It’s also the parent compound to serotonin, a neurotransmitter responsible for positive feelings and mood. It’s important to make sure 5-HTP is safe to take with other medications, especially if you’re taking something that influences your serotonin levels.
- Magnesium. Magnesium is a vitamin that’s usually consumed in fruits and vegetables. But many people are deficient in magnesium, which may lead to physical and mental side effects. However, taking too much can lead to side effects like diarrhea, nausea, and stomach cramping.
- Cannabidiol (CBD). CBD is an active chemical found in cannabis, and its popularity has dramatically increased over the past few years. In cannabis, it’s thought to counteract some of the psychological effects of THC, the drug’s main psychoactive chemical. It’s thought to help with anxiety and other psychological substances. But with this supplement’s popularity, it’s important to get it from a reputable source.
- Kava kava. This is another extract from a root. The root of the plant Piper methysticum contains a chemical called kavalactones that is thought to have anti-anxiety effects.
- Valerian. Valerian is a common supplement that comes from the root of the plant called Valeriana officinalis. Extracts from the root are used to improve sleep, and they may improve sleep quality without side effects that are common to prescription sleep aids.
It’s important to note that many OTC supplements are unregulated and lack a complete, evidence-based background. Still, most are safe to use as recommended, but you should still treat these substances with care. They could cause harmful effects when mixed with other drugs or taken in high doses.
Valium is often part of a physician-assisted medical detox, or a withdrawal management program.
Other benzodiazepines may also be used for this purpose. These drugs can assist in withdrawal from alcohol, other benzodiazepines, and other drugs, including cocaine and other stimulants.
They can help to control seizures, anxiety, insomnia, and other issues that may occur with withdrawal from certain substances of abuse.
Anyone who is in the early stages of recovery from any substance use disorder should consult with a physician. Withdrawal from some substances of abuse can be fatal or can produce severe physical states or emotional distress that can lead to significant harm.