Detoxing from Valium is a difficult, yet necessary component of recovery. The detox process is one that everyone going through recovery for Valium has to deal with. Gaining a better understanding of what the valium detox timeline looks like can help individuals who are entering a recovery program anticipate what lies ahead.

As the process of removing drugs from your body, detox occupies an important role in every recovery program. Though detoxing from benzodiazepines like Valium does share some similarities with the detox experiences of other types of drugs, there are unique considerations and risks associated with benzodiazepine withdrawal that must be accounted for.

In this article, we’ll break down the valium addiction detox process. We’ll take a look at what signs and symptoms of Valium withdrawal are when you will begin to experience them, and about how long you can expect them to last. We’ll also explore some of the ways that medical management of the detox process can help minimize the discomfort you feel.

From the outset, it is important to keep in mind that detox is one component of a recovery program. While detoxing prepares the body for the program by removing any remaining traces of the drug, much of the real work of recovery begins after the detox process ends. This includes individual and group therapy, skills, and counseling sessions that help prepare individuals in a recovery program for life after the program ends.

What is Valium?

Valium is one of the trade names for the drug diazepam. Diazepam was first developed during the 1950s as one of the forerunners of a new class of drug known as benzodiazepines. The first benzodiazepine, Librium, was released in the early 1960s. Valium followed shortly thereafter in 1963. Since then, many different types of benzodiazepines have been created. These are marketed under the trade names Ativan, Klonopin, Xanax, and many others. Each of these is different, yet all benzodiazepines share a few key traits:

 

  • Sedative Effect – All benzodiazepines produce a sedative effect on the person who is taking it. Benzodiazepines produce this effect through their action on the neurotransmitter GABA (gamma-Aminobutyric acid), which is released at the nerve endings in your body.
  • Treatment – Benzodiazepines are used to treat a variety of conditions. Most commonly, benzodiazepines are used to treat anxiety and panic disorders, insomnia, some types of seizures, and may be administered to individuals prior to surgery to calm them. The type of condition it is used to treat depends on whether it is a fast or slow acting benzodiazepine. Fast acting benzodiazepines like Xanax are used to treat conditions like insomnia that require a powerful sedative with immediate effect. Anxiety and panic-related conditions are more likely to be treated with a benzodiazepine that has a slow action, such as Valium.
  • Abuse Potential – All benzodiazepines have a high potential for abuse. Benzodiazepines with a fast action are more prone to abuse, but even benzodiazepines with a slow action are regularly abused. Benzodiazepines are also frequently combined with other drugs, both licit and illicit. For example, in 2015 over 20% of people who died from opioid overdose were found to have benzodiazepines in their system. The combination of benzodiazepines and alcohol is also very common. The high rate of benzodiazepine abuse is true even in a clinical setting, where doctors have steadily moved away from prescribing benzodiazepines for extended periods of time.

 

Specifically, Valium is a benzodiazepine with a slow action and a long half-life. The exact length of time that diazepam remains in your system depends on the type of formulation you are taking. What is notable about Valium is that it is sometimes used in drug replacement therapy for other benzodiazepines. So for example, if an individual entered a treatment program for substance abuse of Xanax, they may be placed on a replacement dosage of Valium. This will help them avoid the onset of withdrawals, and they would eventually be tapered down on the dose of Valium until they are able to safely transition off of it.

What is Detox?

Detox is the process through which an individual’s body is cleansed of any remaining traces of drugs or alcohol. When people speak of “detox”, they are referring to a drug detox program in an addiction treatment facility. Typically, detox programs last days or weeks, depending on the type of drug an individual is detoxing from and other factors like their drug use habit and overall health.

One mistake many people make is in thinking of detox and rehab as the same thing. These are in fact two distinct processes. Detox occurs at the start of a treatment program and is an important and necessary component of all effective rehab problems. However, the detox process is one period of time during a treatment program as a whole. Following the detox process, most people in an inpatient treatment program spend an additional 1-3 months going through individual and group therapy, learning skills that will help them succeed following treatment, and identifying and unpacking the underlying issues that gave rise to their addiction in the first place.

Is Detox the Same as Withdrawal?

One question many people ask is whether detox is the same as withdrawal. These two are not synonymous, though withdrawal symptoms are felt during detox. A key facet of detox to keep in mind is that it is done under medical supervision. What this means is a medical professional will monitor the condition of an individual going through detox. This ensures that they maintain stable health as they progress through the process of medical detox.

Detox is usually a medically managed process. Not only is the person in detox monitored to ensure they are healthy, but they may also be given medications to help ease the intensity of withdrawal symptoms. Undergoing withdrawal symptoms in the absence of medical management is not only more difficult but with benzodiazepines, it is also more dangerous.

Timeline for Valium Detox

One question on the minds of everyone entering detox for Valium is how long withdrawal symptoms will last. Gaining a better understanding of the valium addiction detox process can help you prepare for the symptoms you might experience, how long they will last, and help clear up any misconceptions you might have about the process in general.

Symptoms May Begin After 24 Hours

Valium is a benzodiazepine with a long half-life. This means that after you take diazepam it will stay in your body for a long time, continuing to have an effect throughout that time period. Typically, individuals may start to feel the first withdrawal symptoms 24-48 hours after their last dose. Symptoms will usually start off mild, and begin to increase in intensity.

Weeks 1-2

Unlike the withdrawal symptoms of other drugs, including other benzodiazepines, withdrawal symptoms for Valium typically take longer to begin. Once they begin, they may also take longer to increase in intensity. Most people can expect to have their symptoms continue to increase in intensity over the course of the first week, with peak valium detox symptoms occurring during the second week. Some people experience a more rapid onset of acute withdrawal symptoms, with their intensity peaking during the first week.

At this point during withdrawal, most individuals will be experiencing a number of concurrent psychological and physiological symptoms. They may feel physically weak or ill, with nausea, chills, and headaches common. Aching and tremors may also occur. At the same time, individuals going through valium detox may experience a wide range of emotions including rebound anxiety, panic attacks, and depression. Insomnia is also very common.

One final thing to be aware of during this period of benzodiazepine withdrawal is the onset of seizures. The risk of developing seizures is one of the reasons that it is recommended to go through benzodiazepine withdrawal under medical supervision. Seizures that develop during benzodiazepine withdrawal are a medical emergency and may be fatal if left untreated.

Weeks 2-4

Although everyone’s experience is different, most people note that by the end of the second week the most intense physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms associated with Valium detox have subsided. At this point, most individuals going through Valium withdrawal have experienced the worst symptoms that they will face. Physical manifestations of withdrawal symptoms will have subsided, though some people still struggle with insomnia in the weeks and months following cessation.

For many people going through Valium withdrawal, the most long-lasting withdrawal symptoms are non-physical. Many individuals experience some type of anxiety following cessation. For individuals that began using Valium as a treatment for anxiety-related conditions, this anxiety following cessation can be particularly intense and difficult to deal with. If anxiety or depression are present after someone has stopped the use of Valium, medical professionals may a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) to treat the underlying condition.

Valium Detox Symptoms

During Valium detox, you can expect to experience a number of symptoms. Most people experience both physical and non-physical symptoms concurrently, though the degree they experience each symptom is unique. Your experience during Valium detox may be markedly different from another person. Each person’s history of Valium abuse, dosage, length of time, underlying health, and metabolism all contribute to the intensity of symptoms they experience and the length of time they experience them for.

We’ve already outlined some of the symptoms people experience during Valium detoxification. Here’s a more comprehensive list:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Chills
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Cravings / desire to use
  • Seizures
  • Tremors
  • Stomach Pain
  • Confusion
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Panic attacks

Treatment for Valium Addiction

Overcoming a Valium addiction isn’t easy. To have the best chances for a successful long-term recovery, you will want to assemble a team that can help support and assists you throughout your journey. The withdrawal symptoms you will experience during Valium detox will present a significant challenge. Relapsing when attempting to navigate benzodiazepine withdrawal on your own is common, due to the fact that symptoms can become acute alongside a strong desire to use.  

Treatments for Valium addiction are usually done through either a residential treatment program or an outpatient program. Residential treatment programs are the most intensive option available. During a residential program, you’ll live in the treatment facility for the duration of the program, working every day to build the skills and strength necessary to achieve lifelong sobriety. At the beginning of a residential program you may go through a detox period where any remaining Valium is removed from your system, or you may be tapered down off of Valium over time to avoid the onset of any withdrawal symptoms.

There are also a number of outpatient programs available for treatment. In contrast to residential treatment programs, outpatient programs allow the individual in recovery to go through many of the same treatment programs and classes, while still allowing them to go home in the evening. The more flexible nature of outpatient treatment programs makes them ideal for individuals with childcare needs or busy professionals.

Final Thoughts

The valium detox timeline we have outlined illustrates that detox from Valium can take some time. Typically, withdrawal symptoms peak in the first two weeks after the last dose, although some people experience intense withdrawal symptoms after this point. In most cases, after two weeks the most intense withdrawal symptoms have passed. Some people in recovery for Valium addiction may have anxiety, depression, or insomnia that persists past this two week period.

It should be noted that relapse is common with benzodiazepine withdrawal. The intensity of symptoms combined with a strong desire to use make it especially appealing to begin using benzodiazepines again. Alongside the risk of relapse is the risk of developing seizures during acute benzodiazepine withdrawal. Taken together, these two risk factors make it a high priority to undergo Valium withdrawal under medical supervision.

While there is no right answer to which treatment option may be best for you, going through Valium detox under medical supervision is safer, and will give you the best chance for a successful recovery. Depending on your situation, you may benefit from either a residential or outpatient treatment program to tackle the underlying issues that gave rise to your addiction. To learn more about what resources are available to help you navigate the Valium withdrawal process, please contact Apex Recovery today.

Sources:

  1. https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opioids/benzodiazepines-opioids
  2. https://americanaddictioncenters.org/valium-treatment/withdrawal-duration
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK310652/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4657308/