Switching from Alcohol to Valium

Posted in the Alcoholism Forum

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Bryan

United States

#1 Dec 29, 2006
My father was treated with valium in order to wean him off alcohol twenty five years ago at Schick Shadel hospital. He's been taking valium ever since, which slows his speech and concentration considerably. Shadel considers my father an example of a successful recovering alcoholic, but I wonder if this treatment was really successful. I also wonder how many other addicts have switched to valium because of this type of treatment.
Bryan

Fredericksburg, VA

#2 Mar 28, 2007
I'm still curious about this ... does anyone have any information that might help.
Bryan

Fredericksburg, VA

#3 Apr 18, 2007
Okay, this is my last plea for help on this issue. I haven't heard from anyone since December, so I guess it's not an issue.
If you're an alcoholic, take valium ...
Bryan
John_C_Fleming_M D

Shreveport, LA

#4 Apr 22, 2007
Brian,
I just came across your post today. It is an interesting question and one I have pondered for years as I have observed the same phenomenon. I wrote the book, "Preventing Addiction: What Parents Must Know To Immunize Their Kids Against Drug And Alcohol Addiction." A lot of these issues are discussed there.
I will attempt to give an honest answer to your very honest question. Valium is basically alcohol in pill form as far as the brain is concerned. We have used drugs in this class, especially Librium, for many years to wean alcoholics off alcohol safely.
Ostensibly, it's use is no solution to a chronic addiction problem, though alcoholics often want it for that purpose. The ideal is a drug-free existence. However, the issue is much more complex than this. As it turns out, there is NO cure for drug or alcohol addiction, thus the brains of these people crave addicting substances until death. Can you imagine a life where you had to be hungry most of every day without being able to eat? That is what it is like for addicts/alcoholics.
Even the best of drug and alcohol treatment programs can boast only about a 4% rate of persistant sobriety for its clients. NIDA talks about successful drug addiction treatment only in the context of reduced use, not true sobriety. When you consider that a typical rehab center stay costs $30,000 and it takes several admissions to obtain any sustained sobriety or reduced use, it becomes clear why we should PREVENT addiction rather than pouring all these resources into treatment.
To be more specific about your question, very few alcoholics or drug addicts end up drug-free even though they may continue going to AA, etc. One of the reasons is that their nervous systems are so permanently altered that a drug free existence is almost too much to ask. These people tend to gravitate to some type of low intensity, chronic drug or alcohol use and they work toward controlling their addiction even while being in recovery. Basically, they are not trying to get high any longer, they are just trying to survive while placating their very irritable nervous systems. Nonetheless, they should continue going to AA just as we sinners should continue to go to church.
As a doctor, I never give alcoholics or addicts medications for this purpose, because it is a VERY "slippery slope" that can end up in a continued downward spiral. In fact, deaths from drug overdoses often occur when the addict has been off drugs for a while causing their tolerance to decrease. Then they decide to get high again, later, they often miscalculate the dosing and overdose themselves based on past dosing---especially with opiates. By the same token, drinking alcohol while taking Valium type drugs can cause the same problem---death.
I hope this gives you some insight into the issue and helps answer the question. Technically, a recovering alcoholic/addict should take NO addicting substance including Valium. However, many do and for understandable reasons. Should they---I don't know, that is the problem. We need more research and treatments to help these people.
On the other hand, we really can prevent addiction, given the knowledge we have found about early first use of alcohol and its relation to later addictions. My book discusses this research and the techniques one can use with great success to bring kids up to avoid the horrible disease of addiction.
Bryan

Fredericksburg, VA

#5 Apr 24, 2007
Thanks for your reply. It's my goal to see how many other people are considered "recovered" and yet have an addiction to a medication like valium. My father has been taking valium for thirty years, and it has caused a lot of damage. But as long as he wasn't drinking, he was considered a recovered man, even by experienced doctors and nurses. It's confusing. You're right--we need to do more research on the subject.

Preventing addiction is an excellent idea. I myself am a recovering addict, and I always wonder how different life would be if I had refused to take the first drink. Who knows? I'll check out your book.

Thanks!
Michelle Kilduff

United States

#6 Jul 25, 2007
If you need valium, you won't abuse it.
Bryan

Fredericksburg, VA

#7 Nov 2, 2007
Michelle Kilduff wrote:
If you need valium, you won't abuse it.
What?
noname

Campbell, MO

#8 Nov 2, 2007
my father is an alcoholic as well and is having medical problems from his addiction. He is now having seizures if he drinks too much and will also have one if he does not have at least a shot of whiskey a day to keep the withdrawls at bay.
So for him it is a no win situation. He can not go to rehab because he and my mother can not afford it and they will NOT take you for free. He has no insurance since he is a self employed construction worker. They have given him dilantin for seizures and librium to keep him off the alcohol. It obviously does not work. He has been a drinker for my entire life. He says since age 15 and he is 51 now. His liver has begun signs of deterioration and truthfully, I feel he is beginning dementia from the seizures and withdrawls. He is in constant pain or in such an aggrevated state because he truly doesnt want to get drunk anylonger but now has to at least have a drink to keep him physically able to work. Some people do not believe that he has to have it to function but he has had it so long that his body WILL shut down now without it unless he can get some kind of treatment. At this point I am willing to agree with the doctor and ask them to give him the librium to keep him from going crazy. I can not stand to see my daddy hurt like he is.
So I have mixed feelings about the drug. I would give anything for my dad to just be ok right now, never drink again and stop taking the librium but the reality of that is not likely. If he does not take a drink and take a librium each day he will physically shut down. Sad to see such a good man have to depend on something just to be normal.
My father even smoked pot as I was growing up and I have pleaded with my mother to allow him to again if it will keep him from picking up the bottle. Alcohol is going to kill my father, marijuana will not!! If it will get him through the withdrawls along with the librium then I will find it for him if needed.
Prevention is absolutely the key but once you have past that point, such as my father has, then you just want them comfortable and not in pain.

I think maybe your fathers situation should be evaluated and if he is not in need for the drug an longer then wean him off but if he is like my father and desperately needs something to function normally everyday then do not stop it for fear of the drawbacks.
free at last

Blairsville, GA

#9 Nov 7, 2007
I know quite a few alcoholics in recovery who take other mind and mood altering substances. They seem to be able to take them as prescribed only and function perfectly fine with them.
Personally, I loved the pills too, so for me, that was not an option.
I found John_C's post interesting also. I never really understood why some people could not control their drinking but had no problem controlling their medications.

I guess it's has to do with their motives, and if their heart is in the right place.
Bryan

United States

#10 Dec 3, 2007
John_C's post was just a way to tell me about his book and to preach about the bible. I doubt he read my blog very closely.
Dan

Coldwater, MI

#11 Dec 21, 2007
It sounds like your father needs treatment for his precribed addiction to Valium. I know very few doctors that would consider this a "success" today.
Bryan

Hurleyville, NY

#12 Jan 31, 2008
You are right, Dan. But I wonder if there are other alcoholics who have been treated with valium or if this is a rare case.

When I spoke to one of the doctors at Shadel, he didn't think my father's long addiction to valium was a problem and that scared me.
Bryan

Hurleyville, NY

#13 Jan 31, 2008
Michelle Kilduff wrote:
If you need valium, you won't abuse it.
I'm not sure what you mean.
Bryan

Hurleyville, NY

#14 Jan 31, 2008
noname,

I don't think your father will stop drinking if he starts using marijuana. Maybe for a while, but not for the long haul. See this is what is funny about us codependents. We become as insane as the people we love with addiction. I'm not trying to sound mean. It's actually kind of funny, but to think that an addict will stop or improve by switching drugs is part of the insanity we experience. Our loved ones are the primary addicts but we become addicted to. We are addicted to thinking of ways that will make them better and because all of the sane, reasonable ways never worked, we think crazy ideas like maybe my alcohollic dad would be okay if he just drank beer. Or maybe he would be better if mom would just let him smoke some pot.

See what I'm saying.

Thanks for your response. Please feel free to write another post.
Dan

Coldwater, MI

#15 Jan 31, 2008
Bryan wrote:
You are right, Dan. But I wonder if there are other alcoholics who have been treated with valium or if this is a rare case.
When I spoke to one of the doctors at Shadel, he didn't think my father's long addiction to valium was a problem and that scared me.
I don't think it was all that rare when they first started treating him but they have long since realized that this isn't any better than alcohol. I just have a very hard time believing that any dr. today wouldn't see the problem. You really must get another opinion. There is much hope for him if it is addressed properly.
Bryan

Hurleyville, NY

#16 Feb 6, 2008
I guess it could be confusing because in my first post I inquired whether or not my father was really successfully recovered. It was a rhetorical question. I'm not looking for an opinion about my father. I realize his recovery is not successful. Hes addicted to valium, which is basically a solid form of alcohol.

Now,

What Id really like to know is how many other addicts have switched to valium (or prescribed medication like valium) because of treatment like my father's. Im questioning the treatment that hospitals like Schick Shadel use.

Thanks

Bryan
rick

Camp Verde, AZ

#17 Mar 10, 2008
I am a recovering alcoholic, currently taking Cymbalta for depression. After being sober for 2.5 years the feeling of needing to "soften" my reality has not stopped. I enjoy smoking pot and have for over 20 years. If it was legalized my feeling is that prescription medication wouldn't be necessary for me.

About 2 years ago my doctor diagnosed me as A.D.D. and prescribed Adderall. From the first dose my perception of everyday life was altered. The best way to describe the reaction I felt was "normal". It has been consistent since the first day with Adderall. The day-to-day experiences of my life had a connected quality that I hadn't felt since pe-teen years.

At 45 years of age, and being an active alcoholic for 22 years, my doctor speculated that my brain and nervous system weren't normal like a non-alcoholic person. There were various prescriptions including Librium that I had in the first 6 months of sobriety. None of them worked for me.

With Adderall my mind and emotions feel within control. I have generally been much more optimistic about things, and happier. Then my wife divorced me just over a year ago and the loss of seeing my 2 children every day hit very hard. I have never grieved over a death, but the pain of missing time with my kids has to be the same - it is very intense and until I started taking anti-depressants the grief was out of control.

Now that I''m seeing a new doctor due to change in insurance plans, he has insisted that I take just one Cymbalta daily (60mg) instead of 2 which has been effective. I am weary. The process of finding peace of mind and calm emotions hasn't been rewarding. The medical solution eludes me. I am convinced that Valium would be more effective than the protease inhibitor drugs like Cymbalta and Lexapro, but my old doctor would not prescribe it.

Since the new doctor said he would only prescribe Cymbalta for 60mg a day, not 120mg, I feel frustrated, unsupported and alone. The path of recovery is endless. What I need is freedom from the laws and endless speculative drug therapy, and a healthy supply of pot. I am an addict, but a full-time participant in life now. That's all I ever wanted for the last 15 years or so. Frustrating living in the US.
Bryan

Hurleyville, NY

#18 Mar 11, 2008
I don't know about anti-depressants or ADD medications. I've heard they are overused, though I'm sure some people need them. Have you ever talked to your doctor about not taking medication. What is his/her reaction?
I know when I was drinking alcohol, I saw about eight different doctors and was perscribed 4 or 5 different medications (I was also diagnosed with ADD). But after I found AA and started working, really working through the steps, my depression subsided and with exercise and good sleep, my attention got alot better.
Ask yourself if you've ever been truly honest with your doctors or yourself. Maybe you're seeking something to replace alcohol. Or maybe you need medication. But you can't find out until your honest. Don't make your doctors and therapists try to crack you open--it's a waste of money.
Theresa

UK

#19 Jul 27, 2008
Michelle Kilduff wrote:
If you need valium, you won't abuse it.
Who ever wrote this is barmy, totally barmy, wake up & smell the coffee,once on valium for more than a few months, see if you can get off with no problem, I am afraid you are being very stupid if you think that!!
Valium controls you!!
Thetruth

Concord, CA

#20 Dec 22, 2008
I disagree, I have had valium 30-20-10 from my physician and it got me through the withdrawal and helped me sleep at night. After 90 days the alcohol leaves the system and you no longer feel the shaking, night sweats or withdrawal feelings. Since then, I do not drink or have craved any addictive drug for the last 20 years. Now you are lucky to get 1.0 mg of Valium which is less than a trace element in the composition of the human body let alone feel any significant effect. So now they prescribe .50 or .25 for lorazapam and they think they are helping you. If I was in the situation I was then, I would be trying to quit and probably be dead by now with that dose. Good luck to the new generation. The only reason conventional wisdom has it "for a drug free society", is coming from G. B. and we know what he drank. Give physicians the right to decide not the insurance companies. Where you ever an alcoholic doctor? Then how would you know???? Is that where you get your cure?, from church?

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