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Valium (Diazepam) Detection Time — How Long Does Valium Stay In Your System?

Joseph Sitarik, DO

Medically reviewed by

Joseph Sitarik, DO

February 19, 2019

Although how long Valium stays in an individual’s system depends on several different factors, it can typically be detected up to 10 days after the last dose.

The detection time of Valium (diazepam) can vary from one situation to the next. While exact detection times may vary, generally speaking, traces of Valium are detectable up to 10 days after the drug is consumed, according to the Mayo Clinic.

However, how long Valium stays in someone’s system is significantly influenced by how well their body can metabolize or break down the drug. When Valium (diazepam) is consumed, it goes through the digestive tract and is processed by the liver. The liver then breaks it down into three “child” substances: oxazepam, temazepam, and nordiazepam, which are what initiate the majority of the drug’s effects.

Factors That Affect How Long Valium (Diazepam) Stays In The Body

Several factors affect how long Valium (diazepam) remains in the body. Everyone is different, and the rate at which most medications are detectable in the body can depend on:

  • Liver function: liver function plays a significant role in how long substances like Valium will remain in the body. Individuals who have poor liver functioning or suffer from alcohol-related liver damage may take two- to- five- times longer to metabolize Valium, compared to those with healthy liver function, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
  • Body fat percentage (BMI): Valium (diazepam) is a long-acting benzodiazepine, so it is eliminated from the body at a slower rate than other benzodiazepine medications. Ingesting multiple, large doses of the drug can cause significant build up in the fatty tissues, as this drug is highly fat-soluble. Individuals with an increased body fat percentage will eliminate Valium at a slower rate than someone who has less overall body fat.
  • Age: The elimination half-life of Valium also varies by age. The FDA reports that children ages three to eight experience a Valium elimination half-life of 18 hours. In adults, the half-life of Valium is about 20 hours at age 20 and increases by roughly an hour for each additional year of age.
  • Dosage and frequency: How large a dose and how frequently someone takes Valium can also influence how long the drug will stay in your system. A single 10 mg dose, for example, will take longer to metabolize than a 0.5 mg dose. The liver can only process so much of the drug at once, and larger doses put more strain on its ability to metabolize Valium. Because larger doses take more time to break down, excess Valium circulates through the rest of the body and is absorbed by fat cells. Individuals who take Valium more frequently will take longer to eliminate the drug compared to people who take only one dose. With each successive dose, Valium further accumulates in the body, so the more doses someone takes, the longer it will remain in their system.
  • Consuming other substances: Using other substances in combination with Valium can impact how long it stays in your system. Your body may prioritize metabolizing other drugs before Valium, which can use up the enzymes that it would use to break down Valium. If the limited number of enzymes the liver has to break down foreign substances is used up Valium will circulate through the body and take longer to eliminate.

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Valium (Diazepam) Detection Time Based On Drug Test Type

Some people may wonder if Valium shows up on a drug test or not. While Valium (diazepam) itself may not show up on a drug test, its metabolites or the components it is broken down into can. It takes time for substances to appear in urine, hair, blood, and saliva, and they do not stay in these materials forever, so it is possible to get a negative result even from a person suspected of drug abuse.

Different drug test types examine various body materials to determine if there are foreign substances, such as Valium, are present. The most common drug screening method is urine testing because it is less expensive and generally more reliable than other forms of testing. Additional drug testing methods include blood, hair, and saliva.

Valium detection time varies by drug testing method:

  • Urine test: one to six weeks after consumption
  • Blood test: six to 48 hours after the last dose
  • Saliva test: one to 10 days after it has been taken
  • Hair test: hair follicles can be screened for any substance taken in the last 90 days

Consequences Of Having Too Much Valium (Diazepam) In Your System

Someone taking Valium (diazepam) may need to know how long it will stay active in their system. Having too much Valium in your system at one time can cause serious side effects including, seizures, tremors, fever, severe skin irritation, yellowing of the eyes and skin, irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath, and difficulty swallowing.

Valium can also be habit-forming, especially if it is taken for longer than the recommended period or in abusive doses. Life-threatening side-effects may also occur if this medication is not eliminated from the body before consuming other substances, particularly other sedatives such as alcohol, sleeping pills, or opioids.

Why Someone Might Be Tested For Valium (Diazepam)

Individuals may undergo a drug test for Valium as part of a pre-employment agreement, where the prospective employer hopes to identify any drug abuse issues before hiring. Others may be subject to a drug screening for Valium and other drugs of abuse by their doctor as a requirement before being prescribed another medication.

Factors That Influence Valium (Diazepam) Drug Test Results

Even though drug tests are reasonably reliable, they may not always be accurate. Compared to urine tests, blood tests may be more reliable, as it is more difficult for someone to tamper with the sample. However, timing a blood test can be more difficult.

At-home testing kits are also more likely to be subject to human error, because individuals who administer them may not follow the strict sample collection guidelines. Additionally, at-home tests are not the same quality of lab tests may be.

There are a handful of factors that can affect the accuracy of a drug test, including:

  • the way the test was administered
  • how the sample was stored
  • foods, beverages, and other substances consumed before the test
  • prescription and over-the-counter medications taken prior to the test

What To Do About A Positive Valium (Diazepam) Detection Test

Typically, drug abuse testing involves an initial screening test followed by a second test to confirm the presence of a drug such as Valium (diazepam). Individuals who abuse Valium are more likely to test positive for it. A positive result may limit employment options.

To stop misusing Valium, individuals will need the help of a formal addiction treatment program. Valium is a potent medication that is only intended for short-term use. The longer someone abuses the drug, the more difficult it can be to quit. Inpatient treatment programs are often an effective solution, as they can provide emotional support and a substance-free environment to aid in the recovery process.

Mayo Clinic: Drug Testing - An Overview of Mayo Clinic Tests Designed for Detecting Drug Abuse: Benzodiazepines

U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) - Drugs of Abuse (Collection Kit)

U.S. National Library of Medicine: PubMed - Detection Times of Diazepam, Clonazepam, and Alprazolam in Oral Fluid Collected From Patients Admitted to Detoxification, After High and Repeated Drug Intake.

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