Valium Withdrawal and Detox

Woman struggling with a valium addiction experiencing withdrawal symptoms

Valium, a brand name for diazepam, is a prescription medication commonly used to treat anxiety, muscle spasms, sleep disorders, panic attacks, seizures and alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Benzodiazepines work by suppressing nerve activity in the brain and spinal cord, thus producing calming effects. Although a useful treatment for several conditions, Valium abuse and addiction are common. When Valium is used consistently or at high doses, the body can adapt to functioning in the presence of the drug. This adaptation leads to physical Valium dependence. When an individual with a physical Valium dependence abruptly stops Valium use, withdrawal symptoms occur. Although Valium withdrawal can include severe symptoms, a comprehensive Valium detox and treatment programs can lead to successful recovery from Valium addiction.

Symptoms of Valium Withdrawal

Physical Valium dependence occurs when the body acclimates to the presence of the drug and only functions correctly in its presence. If an individual with a physical Valium dependence ceases use, severe and potentially life-threatening withdrawal symptoms occur. Physical dependence can occur quickly, with Valium withdrawal symptoms possible after only a few weeks of Valium use. Abruptly stopping Valium is not advised due to severe withdrawal symptoms. Medical professionals instead recommend tapering off the drug while under the supervision of a medical detox program. Valium side effects and withdrawal symptoms include both physical and psychological signs.

Physical Valium withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Shaking
  • Excessive perspiration
  • Seizures
  • Unintentional muscle movements
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Stomach pain
  • Rapid heart rate
  • High blood pressure
  • Sensitivity to light or sounds

Psychological Valium withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Memory or cognitive issues
  • Nervousness
  • Anxiety
  • Mental fog
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Misplaced anger
  • Foreign body sensations
  • Depression

Valium Withdrawal Timeline

Valium withdrawal timelines vary between individuals depending on several factors. How long Valium withdrawal takes depends on a person’s age, size, genetics and metabolism. These factors impact how long it takes the body to metabolize and eliminate the drug. The dose and duration of Valium use also affects withdrawal timelines, with higher dosages or prolonged use associated with severe withdrawal symptoms. The use of other substances or co-occurring mental health conditions can also impact the duration and severity of withdrawal symptoms.

Since Valium is classified as a long-acting benzodiazepine, withdrawal symptoms do not start until two to seven days after ceasing usage. Valium withdrawal symptoms can last up to eight weeks or even longer, depending on a person’s usage history and individual biological factors. Some case reports demonstrate that withdrawal symptoms can persist for over a year. Individuals may experience two district withdrawal phases. An acute phase that lasts up to 28 days may be followed by a second phase that persists for a year or longer.

Valium Detox

Due to the severity of withdrawal symptoms, Valium detox can be difficult and hazardous to complete without the support of a professional treatment program. In rare cases, seizures or suicide can occur during Valium withdrawal. Thus, a professional treatment facility is recommended for Valium detox. Valium detox protocols differ between individuals and facilities but generally include medical monitoring, medications, psychotherapy and support groups. Qualified medical detox centers possess trained, experienced medical professionals and therapists that can tailor a Valium detox schedule to meet each individual’s requirements. Professional treatment centers are also capable of treating co-occurring mental health conditions and polysubstance abuse.

Medically Assisted Detox

Medically assisted detox, whether at a hospital, residential rehab facility or outpatient clinic, is highly recommended for Valium detox. Inpatient medical detox ensures safety by providing around-the-clock medical monitoring and support. Although Valium detox schedules vary, a medical team typically assesses the patient through physical and psychological exams before formulating a tailored treatment plan. Treatment plans depend on each person’s medical and Valium usage history. The medical team then supervises the withdrawal process, gradually decreasing the Valium dosage so the body can acclimate to functioning without the drug. Medications or other supportive techniques are also used to limit withdrawal symptoms.

Tapering Off Valium

Individuals preparing for withdrawal may wonder how to taper off Valium. The safest method to perform Valium withdrawal involves decreasing Valium doses over time. Valium detox is a unique experience for each person. When managed by a trained medical professional, Valium tapering successfully limits the duration and severity of withdrawal symptoms and prevents serious complications such as seizures. 

A suggested Valium tapering schedule includes:

  • Decreasing the dose by 50% the first two to four weeks
  • Continuing the reduced dose for up to two months
  • Further reducing the dose by 25% every two weeks until tapering is complete

Finding a Valium Detox Center in Washington

Selecting a drug detox center for Valium withdrawal can be complicated and confusing. However, finding the right fit is critical for completing detox and achieving long-term recovery. 

Several factors should be considered when selecting a detox center, including:

  • The facility’s ability to develop a tailored treatment plan
  • The presence of a trained and experienced medical staff
  • The facility’s location
  • The availability of psychotherapy, support groups and wellness programs
  • Demonstrated accreditation and licensure
  • The use of proven, evidence-based recovery treatment practices
  • Treatment options for co-occurring mental health conditions and polysubstance abuse
  • The availability of aftercare support programs
  • The Recovery Village Ridgefield Detox Center
    The Recovery Village Ridgefield Detox Center

    5114 NE 94th Ave
    Vancouver, WA 98662
    (360) 719-1480

MedlinePlus. “Diazepam.” May 15, 2019. Accessed August 30, 2019.

National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. “Effective Treatments for PTSD: Helping Patients Taper from Benzodiazepines.” January 2015. Accessed August 30, 2019.

World Health Organization. “Clinical Guidelines for Withdrawal Management and Treatment of Drug Dependence in Closed Settings.” 2009. Accessed August 30, 2019.

Pittman, Catherine. “The Overlooked Risks of Benzodiazepine Use: Forgotten Dangers of a Commonly Prescribed Medication.” 9th Annual Drug Abuse Symposium, October 30, 2018. Accessed August 30, 2019.

Hood, Sean; et al. “Benzodiazepine dependence and its treatment with low dose flumazenil.” British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, February, 2014. Accessed August 30, 2019.