Valium Withdrawal and Detox
It is important to keep in mind that Valium is a long-acting benzodiazepine, which influences withdrawal. Valium withdrawal symptoms can be acute or prolonged, lasting for as long as several weeks after the initial treatment period. In extreme cases, a person may experience sensitivity to sound, light and personal contact, epileptic seizures, hallucinations or depersonalization during withdrawal. Symptoms like the ones listed below tend to be more severe and pronounced if diazepam was taken for long periods of time, at high doses or when subject to abuse.1,2
- Abdominal pains
- Dysphoria (an intense dissatisfaction with life)
- Extreme anxiety
- Muscle pain
- Tingling of extremities
Valium Withdrawal Timeline
Withdrawal symptoms are specific to each individual, although diazepam has a long withdrawal period relative to other medications. Severe withdrawal symptoms typically last three to six days after the last dose. While symptoms usually diminish in severity at this point, experiencing a surge of symptoms similar to the onset of withdrawal is not uncommon. Prolonged symptoms can last for weeks or even months after the initial effects began, increasing the risk of relapse.2,3
Early stages (24 to 72 hours): Within the first three days of stopping diazepam, a person may feel agitated and experience excessive sweating or tremors. These symptoms can be worse if diazepam was taken for anxiety issues.2
Week 1: By now, withdrawal should have lessened, with fewer physical symptoms, although emotional or mental problems may still be present. Side effects include insomnia, mild body aches and pain.2
Week 2: It is during this period when rebound side effects occur. Withdrawal symptoms experienced in the early stages will return with the same level of intensity.2
Weeks 3 to 4: Withdrawal symptoms start fading again. While a second rebound is possible, it will be less intense and of a shorter duration. At this point, the body feels like it is starting to return to normal and it is easier to manage anxiety.2
Valium Detox Treatment
Long half-life drugs such as diazepam and clonazepam are actually the preferred drugs used when people abuse other benzodiazepines. The recommended methodology is to taper the drug gradually. Medically supervised inpatient detox is advised if the client is addicted or abused Valium. However, tapering can be done on an outpatient basis for less severe cases. For high-dose detox, the original dose is reduced initially by 25% to 30%, then reduced about 5% to 10% weekly. Some clients are prescribed anticonvulsants for extremely high-dose benzo withdrawal.3 Pharmacological drugs used to help alleviate symptoms include the beta-adrenergic-receptor-blocking drug propranolol (used more commonly for opiate withdrawal). In some cases, antidepressant drugs may be prescribed, and for persistent and distressing insomnia, non-benzodiazepine hypnotics such as promethazine or chlormethiazole have shown some benefit.4
After detox, treatment for Valium abuse incorporates a variety of behavioral and alternative therapies to help clients address the underlying addiction and incorporate a holistic approach to improving their physical and mental health. During individual and group therapy sessions and support groups, clients learn healthier coping mechanisms for dealing with life’s challenges and ways to avoid triggers.4
- Detox from Valium. Addiction Blog website. http://prescription-drug.addictionblog.org/detox-from-valium/ Published March 10, 2013. Accessed February 22, 2017.
- Diazepam Withdrawal. MD Health website. http://www.md-health.com/Diazepam-Withdrawal.html Updated February 22, 2017. Accessed February 22, 2017.
- Benzodiazepine Taper Methods in an Outpatient Setting. Magellan RX Management website. https://wholehealthrx.magellanprovider.com/resource-center/educational-materials/outpatient-benzodiazepine-taper-methods.aspx Accessed February 22, 2017.
- How to treat Valium addiction. Addiction Blog website. http://prescription-drug.addictionblog.org/how-to-treat-valium-addiction/ Published December 26, 2012. Accessed February 22, 2017.