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Valium Withdrawal and Detox: Symptoms, Timeline and Treatment

Written by Heather Lomax

& Medically Reviewed by Dr. Jessica Pyhtila, PharmD

Medically Reviewed

Up to Date

This article was reviewed by a medical professional to guarantee the delivery of accurate and up-to- date information. View our research policy.
If you or a lKey Takeawaysoved one is struggling with addiction, help is available. Speak with a Recovery Advocate by calling 888-648-0738 now.

Key Takeaways

  • People with a physical dependence on Valium may experience severe withdrawal symptoms like seizures.
  • Valium withdrawal includes both physical and psychological symptoms.
  • Professional medical detox is recommended for Valium withdrawals. It provides full support from trained medical staff.
  • Tapering is recommended for Valium detox and involves slowly decreasing the dose to prevent severe side effects.
  • Valium detox can take weeks or months, depending on the individual.
  • Proper treatment in a detox program for Valium withdrawal makes full recovery achievable.

Valium withdrawal and detox is an important step in recovery from Valium addiction. Learn about Valium withdrawal and detox symptoms, timelines and treatment options.

Valium, a brand name for diazepam, is a prescription medication commonly used to treat anxiety, muscle spasms, sleep disorders, panic attacks and seizures.

Although effective in treating several medical conditions, dependence and addiction can occur if Valium is misused or used over extended periods. When someone who has developed a physical dependence on the drug stops using Valium abruptly, withdrawal symptoms can be severe. With the proper treatment to deal with Valium withdrawals, including a suitable Valium detox program, full recovery from Valium addiction can be achieved.

Valium withdrawal and detox is an important step in recovery from Valium addiction. Learn about Valium withdrawal and detox symptoms, timelines and treatment options.

Valium, a brand name for diazepam, is a prescription medication. It is commonly used to treat anxiety, muscle spasms, sleep disorders, panic attacks and seizures.

Valium is effective in treating several medical conditions. However, dependence and addiction can occur if Valium is misused or used over extended periods. Stopping Valium abruptly when you have a physical dependence on the drug can cause severe withdrawal symptoms. 

Still, with proper treatment in a suitable Valium detox program, full recovery from Valium addiction can be achieved.

What Is Valium Withdrawal?

Valium exerts its calming effects by modifying the activity of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. This causes the drowsy and soothing feelings that make the drug useful for anxiety and sleep disorders. 

GABA is a neurotransmitter, a chemical used to signal between brain cells. Benzodiazepines such as Valium enhance the activity of GABA in the brain and make the receptors more sensitive to activation. When activated, GABA receptors decrease activity in the brain. This results in drowsiness and calm feelings. 

These effects make Valium use enjoyable but also contribute to abuse or addiction. With repeated use or high doses of Valium, physical dependence can also occur. 

Dependence develops when the body adapts to repeated exposure to the drug. Now, the body only functions correctly when Valium is present. As a result, withdrawal can occur whenever Valium use is significantly decreased or stopped abruptly. 

Withdrawal from benzodiazepines can cause dangerous, even life-threatening symptoms. That is why quitting abruptly or “cold turkey” is never recommended. Medical management should be used to limit severe Valium withdrawal symptoms. These include seizures, coma and other serious symptoms.

Valium Withdrawal Symptoms

Valium withdrawal symptoms may occur after only two to four weeks. Valium withdrawal symptoms can be severe and even life-threatening if a person does not taper off the drug slowly. Many people require medical detox to stop taking Valium. Valium withdrawal includes both physical and psychological symptoms.

Physical Symptoms of Withdrawal

Valium withdrawal side effect symptoms include:

  • Tremors
  • Sweating
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Severe cravings
  • Seizures

Psychological Symptoms of Withdrawal

Along with physical symptoms, there may be several psychological symptoms of Valium withdrawal. Common psychological symptoms of Valium withdrawal include:

  • Cognitive problems
  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Irritability
  • Abnormal body sensations
  • Depression

How Long Does Valium Withdrawal Last?

The Valium withdrawal timeline varies for each person. It can depend on physical factors, the dosage and the duration of Valium use. 

Valium is considered a long-acting benzodiazepine, so withdrawal does not begin immediately. Valium withdrawal typically occurs two to seven days after the last dose. From there, it continues for two to eight weeks or longer. 

A drug’s half-life is the time it takes for half of the drug to leave the body. The half-life of Valium is 20 to 50 hours. However, its breakdown products can have even longer half-lives.

One study found that the intensity of Valium withdrawal symptoms is initially high before falling during the first two weeks. Symptoms then rise again in the third week before finally declining. 

In some people, withdrawal symptoms may last significantly longer. Some studies demonstrated two withdrawal phases. An acute withdrawal phase lasts 5 to 28 days. However, a protracted withdrawal phase lasts for up to 12 months or longer.

Valium Withdrawal Timeline

Time since last Valium doseValium withdrawal symptoms
1 Day to 1 WeekInitial symptoms may appear.
2 WeeksPeak withdrawal symptoms can occur.
3–4 WeeksSymptoms begin to subside but can persist in a milder form. 
4–6 Weeks and Beyond  Most acute symptoms will have resolved, but some individuals may still experience residual symptoms. 

Factors Affecting Withdrawal Duration

Valium withdrawal duration and the severity of Valium taper withdrawal symptoms may vary. Several factors impact how long Valium withdrawals last, including:

  • Age: Younger people generally clear Valium faster than older people due to organ efficiency.
  • Size: Weight, height and body fat percentage impact how quickly Valium is processed and eliminated from the body.
  • Genetics: Several genetic factors impact how long Valium stays in the body.
  • Metabolism: The time it takes a person’s body to metabolize drugs impacts Valium’s clearance. In turn, this affects the duration and severity of withdrawal symptoms.
  • Frequency and duration of use: Higher dosages or prolonged use of Valium is linked to more severe withdrawal symptoms.
  • Use of other substances: Use of other drugs or alcohol can worsen withdrawal symptoms.
  • Co-occurring mental health conditions: Conditions like depression or anxiety may impact the psychological symptoms of Valium withdrawal.
  • Social support: People with more support from loved ones and a detox program will likely experience fewer withdrawal symptoms.

Complications from Valium Withdrawal

By the time Valium dependence has developed, the body has already decreased its production of natural anxiety-relieving compounds. If a person begins to cut back on Valium or stops altogether, they will struggle to feel normal. Some individuals may feel like they can hardly function without the drug. During the period of acute withdrawal, the body’s physical and psychological response may overwhelm the person. This can pose a high risk for relapse and severe symptoms — even death.

An individual should not intend to withdraw from Valium on their own. Without the help of medical detox, an individual is at risk of giving in to cravings and relapse. Or they may find themselves in a situation with unbearable symptoms. 

Benzodiazepine withdrawal is typically not severe enough to result in death. However, there have been isolated cases where patients who were taking diazepam (Valium) and alprazolam (Xanax) are suspected of having a fatal withdrawal.

If you or a loved one is struggling with Valium and thinking about quitting, would you consider speaking with a Recovery Advocate? We can help you find resources and support to match your unique needs. 

Diagnosing Valium Withdrawal

A healthcare professional can diagnose Valium withdrawal. They will use a variety of questions, exams and tests to do so. Proper diagnosis is critical to ensure the appropriate medical support is provided. Diagnosing Valium withdrawal and its complications can include:

  • Physical examination
  • Questions about medical history and drug use
  • Blood or urine tests to screen for Valium use
  • Blood chemistries and liver function tests, which can be tested together in combination tests such as a C-hem 20
  • CBC (complete blood count, which measures the number of different cells in the blood)
  • Chest x-ray
  • ECG (electrocardiogram, or heart tracing)

Valium Detox for Treatment of Withdrawal

People who use Valium may wonder how they can detox from the drug. Valium detox treatment is the first stage in recovery and often the most challenging. Valium withdrawal can be difficult and dangerous to go through without the help of a treatment facility. Valium detox schedules include medical supervision, counseling and professional support groups. Valium detox treatment can occur in different stages.

Medical Detox

Inpatient medical detox is recommended for Valium withdrawal. This is because it provides full support from trained medical staff. Also, it ensures the patients’ safety and increases the chance of successful recovery. 

Inpatient medical detox can occur at a hospital, detox center or rehab facility. During medical detox, a medical team evaluates the patient to determine the best treatment plan for them. This evaluation process can include:

  • A physical exam
  • Medical tests
  • An interview
  • Mental health screening

The patient then undergoes medically assisted Valium withdrawal. During this stage, medical staff closely monitor the patient 24/7. They may administer medications or other supportive therapies to ease the withdrawal symptoms. 

The safest way to manage Valium withdrawal is to gradually lower Valium dosages according to a Valium detox protocol. Progressively tapering the dose limits withdrawal symptoms and prevents seizures. The benzodiazepine reversal flumazenil is not used during detox. This is because its risk of seizures generally outweighs its benefit. 

How Long Does Detox Take?

Valium detox time varies from person to person, but detox can last for weeks or months. Professional medical staff trained in detox procedures will tailor a detox program to each person. Medical recommendations depend on the patient’s prior Valium use and medical history. Someone who has used high doses of Valium for an extended period may need a longer detox process. In this case, medical staff must slowly taper off the dosage to limit withdrawal symptoms.

A recommended Valium tapering schedule involves:

  • Decreasing the dose by 50% in the first two to four weeks
  • Maintaining that dose for up to two months
  • Reducing the dose by 25% every two weeks until usage is stopped

It is important to remember that Valium detox is an individual experience. Therefore, no one should compare their detox experience to others’ experiences.

Benefits of Professional Detox

Valium detox can be challenging and dangerous without the help of a professional treatment facility. Attempting home detox can result in severe withdrawal side effects such as seizures. At-home detox also increases the risk of relapse. 

A licensed substance abuse medical detox center has an experienced medical staff to help manage a safe, successful detox process. Professional detox centers also manage co-occurring medical and substance use conditions. They may offer counseling, support groups and individualized detox programs.

Outpatient Detox

Instead of detoxing in a treatment facility, people can choose outpatient Valium withdrawal treatment. This allows them to continue with their normal lives. After outpatient detox, it’s important to attend clinic visits, therapy, and support groups to reduce the risk of relapse.

Quitting Valium Cold Turkey

Cold turkey detox from Valium is not advised. This is because it can cause severe Valium withdrawal symptoms such as seizures. During medical detox, medical professionals gradually decrease the dose of Valium. This lets the body slowly adjust to functioning without Valium present. This strategy eases withdrawal symptoms and increases the likelihood of successful recovery.

Can You Die from Valium Withdrawal?

In most cases, Valium withdrawal is not life-threatening. However, some rare deaths from benzodiazepine withdrawal have been linked to tonic-clonic seizures. Suicides due to hallucinations from withdrawal have also been reported. This is why supervised medical detox is always recommended for Valium withdrawal to ensure safety.

Get Help for Valium Withdrawal Today

Finding the right detox center for Valium detox can be a challenging task. However, it is essential for successful detox and long-term recovery. It is critical to find a detox center that:

  • Meets individual treatment needs
  • Is located close to home
  • Includes supportive care such as individual therapy, support groups, exercise and wellness programs
  • Is accredited and licensed
  • Utilizes evidence-based practices for recovery treatment
  • Included care for co-occurring disorders such as mental health conditions
  • Involves loved ones in the recovery process
  • Provides follow-up and aftercare to support long-term recovery
  • Includes well-trained, experienced staff

Since 2013, The Recovery Village Palm Beach at Baptist Health Drug and Alcohol Rehab has provided evidence-based addiction treatment for tens of thousands of patients. This includes people who are struggling with Valium addiction. Not only do our facilities in Palm Beach and Miami meet the criteria above, but we are among the top three percent of rehabs in Florida that offer all levels of care for our patients. 

We believe that you can recover from Valium addiction, and we’re here to help however we can. Are you ready to get your life back?

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