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Valium Withdrawals

Diazepam, most commonly recognized under the trade name Valium (but it is also sold under a large number of other trade names), is a member of the benzodiazepine medication class.

Valium Withdrawals

What is Valium?

Diazepam, most commonly recognized under the trade name Valium (but it is also sold under a large number of other trade names), is a member of the benzodiazepine medication class.

Valium is one of the best-recognized drugs in the world and at one time was the best-selling drug in the United States. It is used to treat anxiety and anxiety disorders, treat withdrawal syndromes to other benzodiazepines and alcohol, manage seizures, treat restless leg syndrome, treat muscle spasms, and in the treatment of insomnia. Due to its high potential for abuse and addiction, it is no longer a first-line choice in the treatment of anxiety but continues to be used for several treatment options.

Valium is an addictive Benzodiazepine with longer-lasting effects than other drugs in its class. Diazepam (Valium) addiction can progress quickly if the drug is used in a way not directed by a doctor. Over time, it is harder for a Valium abuser’s brain to function normally without the drug. Yet some people addicted to Valium may not even realize they have a problem.

Taking Valium for longer than 4-6 weeks, even with a prescription from a doctor, increases the likelihood of becoming addicted. One of the telltale symptoms of a Diazepam (Valium) addiction is needing larger doses to feel the drug’s effects. Other signs of Diazepam (Valium) addiction include:

  • Strong cravings for the drug
  • Isolation from family and friends
  • Continued use despite problems caused by the drug
  • Loss of interest in once enjoyable activities
  • Ignoring obligations

Once a user has a tolerance to Valium’s effects, they could also have Valium withdrawal symptoms if they stop taking it. Valium withdrawals can be dangerous and uncomfortable, which makes it hard for addicted people to quit on their own. The symptoms of Valium withdrawal are intense, and many people addicted to Valium need the drug to feel normal. About 1-4 days following a person’s last use of Valium, the individual will begin to experience the effects of acute Valium withdrawals.

valium withdrawals
Valium is one of the best-recognized drugs in the world and at one time was the best-selling drug in the United States.

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Valium Withdrawals Symptoms

Physical Symptoms

Physical symptoms can include combinations of headaches, nausea, vomiting, stomach pains, cramps, and even tremors (most often, these tremors will occur in the hands).

Cardiovascular Symptoms

Cardiovascular symptoms that could be associated with rebound anxiety or just be part of the general withdrawal process (increased blood pressure, increased heart rate, and so forth).

Neurological Symptoms

Neurological symptoms, such as confusion and the potential to develop seizures (the occurrence of seizures during the acute phase of withdrawal is a serious condition that can be potentially fatal and needs immediate medical attention).

Psychological Symptoms

Psychological symptoms can include cravings, mood swings, depression, panic attacks, and rebound anxiety.

Valium Withdrawals Timeline

People who demonstrate withdrawal from Valium may or may not qualify for an abuse or addiction diagnosis; however, the withdrawal process follows a relatively similar progression in most individuals, with some deviation due to individual differences.

Withdrawal from benzodiazepines has been described in research literature based on the clinical observations of patients’ benzodiazepine addictions. The classic and most enduring model of Valium/benzodiazepine withdrawal is a stage model that includes two basic withdrawal stages. The stages are differentiated by the number and intensity of the symptoms and their length.

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Side Effects of Valium Withdrawals

Acute Stage

About 1-4 days following a person’s last use of Valium, the individual will begin to experience the effects of acute withdrawal. Valium has a variable half-life that can be as high as 48 hours, so for some individuals, there may be no significant symptoms for a day or so, but by day 3-4, the person will begin to experience acute withdrawal symptoms.

The determination of how soon after stopping Valium these symptoms will appear depends on how much and how often the person took Valium, the length of time Valium was abused, whether or not other drugs were also abused, and individual differences in metabolism and emotional and psychological stability. For instance, some individuals who are prone to anxiety and depression may begin to experience rebound anxiety (a return of the anxiety that was present before the person started taking the drug) after a relatively short period of not using Valium.

General Withdrawal

After a period of 3-4 days of acute symptoms, the person will tend to experience a more lengthy withdrawal phase that will continue for 10-14 days in most cases. During this period, the person will experience increased cravings for Valium, lightheadedness, mild headache, mild fever, periods of nausea, potential chills, depression, and continuing bouts of anxiety.

These symptoms will be significantly less intense than the acute symptoms. In general, the person will experience flulike symptoms, general feelings of dissatisfaction, and an overall sense of melancholy. In some individuals, there may be an additional period of rebound anxiety between 10 and 14 days.

Following the withdrawal period, individuals will slowly stabilize but may still experience issues with anxiety and depression, and general feelings of being “out of sync.”

valium withdrawals
After a period of 3-4 days of acute symptoms, the person will tend to experience a more lengthy withdrawal phase that will continue for 10-14 days in most cases.

Certain references also refer to post-acute withdrawal syndrome, which is a longer period of more generalized psychological symptoms that may occur in some individuals following recovery from drug abuse. The symptoms are typically described as issues with mood, irritability, problems experiencing pleasure to the same extent that one was able to experience pleasure prior to drug abuse, and general feelings of dissatisfaction and variable motivation.

Post-acute withdrawal syndrome has been characterized as a lengthy period that can last from weeks to years that requires ongoing treatment (mostly in the form of therapy); otherwise, it can lead to an increased potential for relapse. The syndrome is not universally accepted among addiction researchers and mental health workers.

Understanding the withdrawal process from Valium is important because individuals who are going through withdrawal are at a higher risk for relapse. The sudden appearance of rebound anxiety and physical symptoms can be almost immediately countered if the individual begins to take Valium again. This makes it extremely difficult for individuals to discontinue Valium “cold turkey” on their own without professional assistance.

Valium Detox Treatment

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 uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms and prevents dangerous complications such as seizures.

The severity of the addiction is the biggest factor in how long detox takes. Those who are more severely addicted take longer to detox because abruptly reducing their Valium doses causes harmful withdrawal symptoms.

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Valium Detox Protocol

Valium is often used as a replacement medication to assist in the withdrawal from other benzodiazepines. Individuals with physical dependence on some other benzodiazepine would be administered Valium instead of that benzodiazepine and then the physician would slowly taper down the dosage to allow the person to adjust accordingly.

Once the dosage reaches a certain level, the medication is discontinued altogether, and the individual has managed to negotiate the withdrawal phase without experiencing serious effects. Likewise, physicians can initiate a tapering strategy for Valium for people who have a physical dependence on Valium. This may be the most effective strategy to negotiate withdrawal from physical dependence on Valium.

Other medications that might be used include the following:

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are antidepressant medications that have been shown to be useful in some instances in the withdrawal process from benzodiazepines and may be useful in addressing rebound anxiety.
valium withdrawals
The goal of Valium detox is to remove the drugs from the body while minimizing withdrawal symptoms.

Melatonin is a hormone that can ease symptoms of anxiety and induce sleep in some cases and may also address tolerance and withdrawal symptoms.

Anticonvulsant medications would be used in the event that an individual develops seizures. Some anticonvulsants also appear to be useful in addressing the overall symptoms experienced during withdrawal from Valium.

The muscle relaxant baclofen (known by the brand names Kemstro, Gablofen, and Lioresal) has been demonstrated to reduce cravings for a number of different drugs of abuse, including benzodiazepines.

Other specific medications for nausea, headache, and so forth can be added at a physician’s discretion.

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How Long Does It Take To Detox From Valium?

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 depending on their prior Valium use and medical history. Someone who has used high doses of Valium for an extended period may need a longer detox process, as medical staff slowly taper off the dosage to limit withdrawal symptoms.

A recommended Valium tapering schedule involves decreasing the dose by 50% for the first two to four weeks, maintaining that dose for up to two months then reducing the dose by 25% every two weeks until usage is stopped. It is important to remember that Valium detox is an individual experience, so each person should not compare their detox experience to others’ experiences.

Reclaim Your Life With Our Valium Detox Program

About 1-4 days following a person’s last use of Valium, the individual will begin to experience the effects of acute Valium withdrawals. People suffering from Valium addiction often put their addiction ahead of their professional and personal obligations. They are also likely to become unmotivated and lose interest in hobbies they once found pleasurable.

We Level Up rehab treatment & detox center can provide to you, or someone you love, the tools to recover from this condition with a professional and safe detox process. Feel free to call us to speak with one of our counselors. We can inform you about this condition by giving you relevant information. Our specialists know what you are going through. Please know that each call is private and confidential.

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Sources

[1] MedlinePlus. “Diazepam“.

[2] National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Prescription CNS Depressants.”

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

[4] National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. “Effective Treatments for PTSD: Helping Patients Taper from Benzodiazepines.” January 2015.

[5] World Health Organization. “Clinical Guidelines for Withdrawal Management and Treatment of Drug Dependence in Closed Settings.

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