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Valium (Diazepam) Withdrawal Symptoms — Valium Withdrawal Timeline

Dr. Anna Pickering

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Anna Pickering

April 2, 2019

Valium (diazepam) can cause unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. How long it takes to withdraw from a benzodiazepine like Valium depends on the rate of abuse, the individual’s tolerance, and how well their body metabolizes the drug.

Valium (diazepam) withdrawal happens after an individual has become tolerant to the effects of the drug. This has shown to occur most often in people who abuse benzodiazepines such as Valium for six continuous months or more.

Common symptoms of Valium (diazepam) withdrawal include:

  • tremors
  • abdominal and muscle cramping
  • nausea and vomiting
  • excessive sweating
  • headache
  • muscle pain
  • extreme anxiety
  • tension
  • restlessness
  • confusion and irritability

In severe cases, some individuals may also experience withdrawal symptoms such as:

  • derealization (a feeling that one’s surroundings are not real)
  • depersonalization (a state in which one’s thoughts and feelings seem unreal or not to belong to oneself, or in which one loses all sense of identity)
  • hyperacusis (a highly debilitating hearing disorder characterized by an increased sensitivity to certain frequencies and volume ranges of sound)
  • numbness and tingling in the extremities
  • hypersensitivity to light, noise, and physical contact
  • hallucinations or epileptic seizures

These symptoms usually only present in people who have taken large doses of Valium continuously for several months. Chronic, daily abuse can lead to the development of physical dependence on Valium.

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Valium (Diazepam) Withdrawal And Rebound Anxiety

When individuals experience Valium withdrawal, they can also experience rebound anxiety. Rebound anxiety is the return of the original anxiety disorder that an individual began taking Valium for but is more intense.

The risk of suffering from rebound anxiety is increased when someone abruptly stops taking Valium, which is why it is recommended for individuals to taper off the drug slowly.

Valium (Diazepam) Withdrawal Timeline

Valium (diazepam) has a half-life of 12 hours, which means that every 12 hours half the dose is eliminated from the body. It is likely that people who suddenly stop Valium or miss a dose will begin to experience withdrawal symptoms between 12 and 24 hours after their last dose.

Individuals who have become tolerant to larger doses of Valium may take longer to feel the onset of withdrawal due to the excess buildup of the drug in their fatty tissues. However, people who experience a delayed onset of withdrawal often report having significantly more intense withdrawal symptoms.

Benzodiazepine withdrawal can be classified in two stages: acute withdrawal and post-acute withdrawal. Acute withdrawal from Valium usually lasts 10 to 14 days after the last dose. A majority of withdrawal symptoms are felt during this time. Acute Valium withdrawal symptoms can include the symptoms listed above.

While most of the physical side effects of Valium withdrawal usually taper off after a week or two, some psychological symptoms may continue. Post-acute withdrawal symptoms can consist of anxiety, depression, trouble sleeping, and suicidal thoughts.

How Long Does It Take To Withdraw From Valium (Diazepam)?

While individual experience with Valium withdrawal may vary, general estimations can be made about how long the average withdrawal process takes. How long it takes someone to withdraw from Valium depends on a few different factors, including:

  • how long they have abused Valium (diazepam)
  • the dose they have become tolerant to
  • the method used to administer Valium (snorting, smoking, or injecting)
  • underlying medical or mental health issues
  • co-occurring abuse of other drugs or alcohol

In general, Valium withdrawal usually takes three to four weeks, with the potential to experience post-acute withdrawal symptoms for months afterward.

What To Expect During Valium (Diazepam) Detox

When someone first starts to withdraw from Valium (diazepam), the detoxification process will begin, in which the substance is slowly eliminated from the body. Medically supervised detox is one of the safest and most effective ways to stop using Valium.

Generally, detoxing from Valium takes five to seven days, although it can be longer depending on an individual’s circumstances. One of the main goals of detox is to reach a more stable and healthy physical condition so the individual can begin to focus on the psychological aspects of their addiction.

Detox programs are not an addiction treatment, but they are an essential part of the process. It is always recommended that individuals who complete a medically supervised detox continue their addiction treatment in an inpatient or outpatient setting.

Treatments To Assist In Valium (Diazepam) Withdrawal

Valium (diazepam) is a benzodiazepine medication that is commonly used as a replacement medication to assist in withdrawal from short-acting benzo medications. Individuals who struggle with a Valium use disorder will be put on a tapering plan that slowly lowers the dose over a long period, giving their body time to adjust.

Other medications may also be used to combat Valium withdrawal symptoms. These medications can include antidepressants to help stabilize mood, melatonin to help restore normal sleeping patterns, and anticonvulsant medications to help individuals who may have been taking Valium to control seizures.

National Center for Biotechnology Information: Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine - Prescription Sedative Misuse and Abuse

U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) - VALIUM® brand of diazepam TABLETS

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