What Is Valium (Diazepam) Withdrawal?
Anyone who has taken Valium for over four months (or even less in some cases) may experience withdrawal symptoms. Valium begins accumulating in the body the longer it’s taken.
As Valium builds up, the body cuts back its production of natural anxiety-relieving chemicals.
Valium users experience stronger withdrawal symptoms as the body starts depending more on the drug to fill the void left by the drug.
Once a physical dependence has developed, the user needs Valium to function and prevent the symptoms of withdrawal. Valium users often increase their doses to counter withdrawal symptoms as their tolerance to the drug increases.
Withdrawal from Valium can be dangerous, so users should never try to quit “cold turkey.” This can lead to seizures, coma, and other potentially fatal outcomes. Quitting Valium requires medical management as the body and brain recalibrate to be able to function properly without the drug.
Benzodiazepines like Valium are some of the most difficult drugs to go through withdrawal from, due to the severity and duration of withdrawal. For the majority of Valium addicts, the initial acute withdrawal lasts for an extended period of time, up to 90 days. The post-acute withdrawal phase is also often a difficult process as it may last from 18-24 months.
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Symptoms Of Withdrawal
The severity of withdrawal symptoms depends on the period of time the substance was used, how much the user took on a daily basis, and whether the individual stopped “cold-turkey” (all at once) or or slowly tapered off. Heavy Valium use over a long period of time leads to more difficult withdrawal symptoms. Valium withdrawal can be serious, but the symptoms are often less intense than more potent Benzos like Xanax.
Common symptoms of Valium withdrawal include:
- Abdominal cramps
- Muscle pain
- Severe anxiety
- Restlessness and insomnia
- Panic attacks
- Memory issues
- Reduced appetite
- Sensory hypersensitivity
- Heart palpitations
- Muscle twitching
More serious complications can also arise depending on the severity of use, including:
- Numbness/tingling in the arms and/or legs
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, it takes as little as 15 mg of Valium each day for several months to start experiencing withdrawal symptoms. People who have taken more than 100 mg of Valium a day are more likely to experience serious withdrawal symptoms and complications.
Duration Of Withdrawal
Valium withdrawal lasts longer than that of most other Benzodiazepines. Valium is a long-acting Benzodiazepine designed to deliver extended relief from anxiety.
Because of its long-lasting effects, it takes a while for the symptoms of withdrawal to start. In some cases, the first symptoms of Valium withdrawal may not occur for up to 7 days in heavy users.
A study from the 1980s examined the duration of withdrawal in people who had used 60 to 120 mg of Valium for 3 to 14 years. The withdrawal symptoms of the group lasted over a month.
The withdrawal period lasted about 6 weeks. The intensity of the symptoms and signs was high initially, fell during the first 2 weeks, then rose again in the third week, before finally declining.
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Valium Withdrawal Timeline
|First 4 days||The first signs of Valium withdrawal might be felt within 12-24 hours of stopping use. Symptoms of anxiety and restlessness start out faint and begin increasing in magnitude over time. Rebound symptoms of the condition Valium was designed to treat may also appear at this time. Symptoms usually begin mildly and slowly increase in intensity.|
|Week 2||The symptoms of Valium withdrawal often peak in the second week after quitting. The full-blown symptoms of withdrawal start taking effect during this time. These may include insomnia, sweating, nausea and muscle pain.|
|Weeks 3-4||Valium withdrawal may continue for up to a month after quitting use. The intensity of withdrawal tapers off during this time, and symptoms become more manageable.|
|Weeks 5+||Many people who have developed a physical dependence on benzodiazepines like Valium experience post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS). These symptoms can appear suddenly after having no symptoms for months or even years.|
Valium detox is the process of getting the drugs out of the user’s body. The goal of Valium detox is to remove the drugs from the body while minimizing withdrawal symptoms.
Detoxing from Valium can be dangerous without medical guidance. Most Valium users who want to quit follow a detox program that gradually reduces their doses, usually on a weekly basis. This minimizes the uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms and prevents dangerous complications such as seizures.
Most guidelines and researchers … advocate a fixed discontinuation schedule varying from 4 to 8 weeks in duration.
The severity of the addiction is the biggest factor on how long detox takes. Those who are more severely addicted take longer to detox because abruptly reducing their Valium doses causes harmful withdrawal symptoms.
Featured Treatment Centers Offering Detox from Valium
Recovery For A Valium Problem
Treatment is available for everyone struggling with a Valium addiction, regardless of circumstances and background. There are many types of treatments depending available. There is also financial assistance to pay for treatment. The first step is deciding to get help for your addiction.
Treatment for a Valium addiction is meant to make getting off the drug as easy as possible. For heavy Valium users, an inpatient rehab may be an option to strongly consider. Some people, like one writer who described her trials with Valium in an article for Vice, choose an outpatient clinic to beat their addiction. Either way, treating a Valium addiction is a process that takes time.
The coming months were spent tapering off Valium slowly, thanks to the help of a wonderful, completely nonjudgmental doctor.
If you’re searching for rehab-related help for Valium, a treatment provider can help you determine treatment options. Contact a treatment provider today.
Jeffrey Juergens earned his Bachelor’s and Juris Doctor from the University of Florida. Jeffrey’s desire to help others led him to focus on economic and social development and policy making. After graduation, he decided to pursue his passion of writing and editing. Jeffrey’s mission is to educate and inform the public on addiction issues and help those in need of treatment find the best option for them.
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Reviewed by Certified Addiction Professional:
Theresa Parisi received her bachelor’s degree in Addiction Science and Psychology from Minnesota State University in Mankato, Minnesota in 2010. She is currently working towards her master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling at Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, Florida. She is a Certified Addiction Professional (CAP), Certified Behavioral Health Case Manager (CBHCM), and International Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (ICADC) by the Florida Certification Board. Theresa is passionate about recovery having gone through addiction herself.
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- American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition. Washington D.C. American Psychiatric Association. 2013.
- Ashton, Heather. (2001). Reasons for a Valium (Diazepam) Taper. Retrieved on September 15, 2015 from: http://www.benzo.org.uk/ashvtaper.htm
- Ashton, Heather. (2004). Protracted Withdrawal Symptoms from Benzodiazepines. Retrieved on September 15, 2015 from: http://www.benzo.org.uk/pws04.htm
- Food and Drug Administration. (2008). Valium. Retrieved on September 15, 2015 from: http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2008/013263s083lbl.pdf
- Gliatto, Micheal F., M.D. American Family Physician. (2000). Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Retrieved on September 15, 2015 from: http://www.aafp.org/afp/2000/1001/p1591.html
- Jones, Felicity. Vice. (2014). Valium Can Be Harder to Withdraw from Than Heroin. Retrieved on September 15, 2015 from: https://www.vice.com/read/valium-can-be-harder-to-withdraw-from-than-heroin
- Mellor, C.S. et al. Canadian Medical Association Journal. (1982). Diazepam withdrawal syndrome: its prolonged and changing nature. Retrieved on September 15, 2015 from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1862031/
- U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2010). Diazepam. Retrieved on September 15, 2015 from: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/meds/a682047.html