Valium (Diazepam) Tapering And Weaning Schedule
Medically reviewed byJoseph Sitarik, DO
March 5, 2019
Tapering or weaning off Valium (diazepam) reduces the potential for serious adverse side effects while discontinuing benzodiazepine medication.
Valium (diazepam) is a potent benzodiazepine with a high potential for abuse. Once someone has become tolerant to Valium, it can be challenging for them to wean off the drug. There are a few different ways of tapering off Valium use. Weaning off this drug can be difficult to do alone.
Although many people may start taking Valium for a legitimate medical purpose, over time they can become dependent on the medication. After dependence is established, their body will require the drug to function normally.
It is never recommended to suddenly cease taking Valium, as this can lead to the onset of acute withdrawal symptoms, which can be unpleasant and, in some cases, life-threatening.
Valium (Diazepam) Tapering: How To Prepare
Once someone has made up their mind to come off Valium (diazepam), it is critical to prepare for the tapering process. To prepare, individuals should contact their primary healthcare provider to make sure they are physically capable of completing a successful Valium taper.
In rare cases, doctors may not recommend coming off Valium or stopping it entirely. However, consulting with a medical professional is vital to ensure individual safety. Once someone is deemed physically capable of withdrawing from Valium, they will need to provide proof that they will have access to adequate psychological support throughout the tapering process.
They may get psychological support from a spouse, partner, family member, close friend, or a mental health specialist. Ideally, the person(s) someone expects support from will know about benzodiazepine withdrawal or be willing to read and learn about the process.
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Clinical psychologists or trained therapists can be especially helpful in this area, as they can teach various relaxation techniques such as meditation, breathing exercises, and how to deal with panic attacks or other anxiety symptoms without medication.
Lastly, it is a good idea to establish the proper mindset for withdrawal. The tapering process works best when done slowly, so it will take patience, confidence, and the ability to identify your own needs throughout the process. Keep in mind that just because one method worked for someone else, doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for everyone.
There may be some trial and error during the tapering process. Addiction specialists may be able to help navigate any difficulties and ensure individual comfort.
Ways To Taper Off Valium (Diazepam) Use
Tapering off Valium must be done slowly. Because Valium (diazepam) is one of the longest-acting benzodiazepine medications, it is often used to assist individuals who wish to withdraw from short-acting benzos like Xanax (alprazolam). Individuals who struggle with Valium abuse will be able to skip trading one medication for another and begin to work on gradually reducing their daily dosage of Valium.
There is no one way to taper off Valium. There are a handful of different ways to do so, which is why it is essential to consult a medical professional before starting the process. They will be able to provide more informed recommendations on how to successfully complete this process.
Different ways to taper Valium use include:
- dry tapering
- tapering strips
This method is considered the most popular tapering method due to convenience and simplicity. Individuals who dry taper divide Valium doses using a pill cutter or shave a piece of the Valium tablet off to be weighed on a scale. There are a few different ways to dry taper, including micro-tapering and larger cut-and-hold tapers.
Tapering strips for Valium withdrawal are relatively new and currently come from the Netherlands. Availability of this method can vary by country. This method can have a faster taper rate than recommended. If an individual decides to use this method, it may be advised that they consider slowing the strip taper to five to 10 percent per month maximum.
A version of dry tapering, micro-tapering can help to distribute Valium doses evenly throughout the day. This method is useful for avoiding withdrawal between daily doses. During a micro-taper, individuals will reduce their daily doses by very tiny amounts that will add up to a five to 10 percent overall reduction every month.
Weaning Off Valium (Diazepam)
Dosing schedules help individuals stop taking Valium over time. However, it is essential to take your own needs into account while going through this process. If severe anxiety or depression occurs while reducing Valium, it may be necessary to adjust the weaning process.
Depending on what the individual is accustomed to taking, starting doses will vary. Remember, a weaning schedule can only be safely created on a one-on-one basis with a provider who is licensed to prescribe.
How Long Will It Take To Wean Off Valium (Diazepam)?
How long it takes for someone to wean off Valium (diazepam) is determined on an individual basis. People who have been taking this drug for years at a time will take longer to wean off Valium, as their bodies will need more time to adjust to being without the medication.
Reasons For A Valium (Diazepam) Taper: Why Stop Taking Valium?
Some people may wonder why they should stop taking Valium (diazepam). Long-term use of benzodiazepines can result in many adverse outcomes, including poor memory, emotional blunting, depression, increasing anxiety, physical symptoms, and dependence.
Research also indicates that most benzodiazepines stop being effective after four or more consecutive weeks of use. Clinical trials have also shown that people who have been on Valium long-term feel better once they are no longer taking the medication.
Many people are afraid of benzodiazepine withdrawal, but the individual reports of severe and uncomfortable withdrawal processes can be exaggerated and misleading. As long as there is an effort made to come off Valium safely, most individuals can avoid most, if not all, of the unpleasant withdrawal symptoms others have experienced.
Valium (Diazepam) Withdrawal For Children, Elderly, And Pregnant Women
Special considerations should be made for children, the elderly, and pregnant women who wish to taper off Valium. Children may be prescribed this medication to help them deal with seizure disorders such as epilepsy. Because children are continuously developing, it is important to wean them off at a slower rate than the sample schedule above.
Elderly individuals will process Valium at a decreased rate, compared to younger individuals. The FDA notes that the elimination half-life of Valium increases by about an hour for each year of age after 20. If an older adult has been on Valium for many years, there will be a significant amount of the drug built up in their fatty tissues.
Generally, the use of diazepam in childbearing women or in women who are pregnant should only be considered when the situation warrants the risk to the fetus. Valium abuse can disturb the development of the embryo or fetus. It may also result in birth defects or congenital malformations. It may be tempting to suddenly stop Valium when a woman learns that she is pregnant, but doing so would not be to the benefit of the mother or her unborn child.
Addressing Individual Needs During Valium (Diazepam) Tapering
Individuals on Valium who go through the tapering process can expect anxiety and insomnia. Successfully discontinuing Valium is more likely to happen when someone also participates in cognitive-behavioral therapy, compared to those who do not.
It is vital that anyone who decides to taper or wean off Valium (diazepam) take their own needs into account and rely on a licensed professional for support. The added support of a formal addiction treatment program could make all the difference while withdrawing from benzodiazepines.Article Sources
Government of South Australia: SA Health - Benzodiazepine withdrawal management
Newcastle University: The Institute of Neuroscience - BENZODIAZEPINES: How they work and how to withdrawaw
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) - VALIUM® brand of diazepam