What’s the Timeline for Valium Withdrawal

The length of withdrawal from Valium can vary, depending on various factors. The withdrawal period often lasts anywhere from several days to several weeks, depending on the person.

Benzodiazepines

Valium (diazepam) is one of the most familiar benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepines were initially believed to be better alternatives to the commonly abused barbiturates. However, benzodiazepines are now recognized as drugs that have significant abuse potential.

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While they are not often primary drugs of abuse, benzodiazepines are most frequently abused with other drugs, like alcohol, opioids, and even other benzodiazepines.

These drugs are controlled substances, and they have significant potential to cause physical dependence after just a few weeks of use.

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Anxiety types of benzodiazepines

Physical Dependence on Valium

The development of physical dependence on Valium has been thoroughly researched. A significant number of individuals who use the drug for more than just a few weeks will develop some level of physical dependence on it.

Most often, physical dependence is defined as the development of withdrawal symptoms when one stops using the drug. However, physical dependence is a complex phenomenon that involves both physical and psychological components.

The development of withdrawal symptoms related to Valium typically begins when a person develops tolerance to the effects of the drug.

People will not develop withdrawal symptoms before they have developed tolerance to a substance.

The repetitive use of Valium results in tolerance to the drug’s effects, which often leads to the person using more of the drug to counteract tolerance. This can lead to the person developing physical dependence.

Factors That Influence Physical Dependence

Different factors influence withdrawal from Valium. The major factors that influence the withdrawal syndrome include:

  • The amount of Valium used and the frequency
  • The period in which Valium was used
  • Use of Valium with other substances
  • Individual differences in metabolism
  • Emotional state
  • Ways by which the person stopped using the drug

Symptoms

The specific symptoms of Valium withdrawal are also dependent on the above factors.

Research indicates that individuals will experience at least some symptoms, including:

  • Feelings of jitteriness, restlessness
  • Decreased appetite
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Excessive sweating
  • Postural tremors
  • Myoclonic jerks
  • Autonomic nervous system hyperactivity
  • Rebound effects

A small percentage of individuals will experience very severe issues, such as seizures, hallucinations, significant confusion, severe disorientation, hyperactivity or hypoactivity, severe emotional distress, and even suicidal thoughts.

Withdrawal Timeline From Valium

When a person is undergoing withdrawal from Valium outside of a physician-assisted medical detox program, the timeline for withdrawal can vary.

In general, research shows that withdrawal from Valium is considered to occur in distinct phases, and the timeline varies depending on the person.

The phases of withdrawal are:

ACUTE PHASE

An initial or acute phase that begins within one to four days after the person has stopped using Valium (Initial symptoms can vary but will typically include autonomic hyperactivity, anxiety, nausea, irritability, aches and pains, insomnia, and cravings.)

PROTRACTED WITHDRAWAL

A more extended or protracted period of withdrawal where the symptoms will be present but less intense after the initial symptoms peak (This period varies in duration and can last from a few days to several weeks.)

READJUSTMENT

Longer periods of readjustment that occur after most of the physical and emotional symptoms have subsided (This can happen within two weeks of discontinuing the drug.)

Classic research studies investigating withdrawal from Valium indicate that the timeline for withdrawal ranges anywhere from a few days to several weeks.

In many cases, there is a waxing and waning of symptoms during the more extended period of withdrawal. When this situation occurs, unsupervised individuals are at an increased risk of relapse.

Relapses during periods of abstinence can be serious because tolerance to the drug is reduced. Relapse can then lead to a potentially fatal overdose if the person takes the same dose of the drug they previously took before tolerance was lowered.

Protracted Withdrawal Syndrome

Many sources still refer to a protracted withdrawal syndrome, or a post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS), from numerous different types of drugs.

The symptoms are usually emotional in nature and include problems with motivation, depressed mood, increased susceptibility to stress, and cravings for the drug of choice.

The length of this protracted withdrawal syndrome is extremely variable and can last for weeks, months, or even years after all the physical symptoms of withdrawal have subsided. During this time, the drug is undetectable in the system due to normal metabolic processes.

However, this syndrome has never been described or diagnosed by organizations like the American Psychiatric Association (APA) as a formal phase of withdrawal from any drug.

The lingering symptoms of alleged PAWS do not reflect a formal withdrawal syndrome.

They are more likely symptoms that represent other issues, such as ongoing psychiatric or psychological symptoms that need to be addressed separately or even the effects of longer-lasting neurological changes that have occurred due to extended drug abuse.

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Medical Detox

Withdrawal from Valium is generally done via a tapering schedule of Valium or some other long-acting benzodiazepine.

The physician will begin with the dose that controls withdrawal symptoms and slowly decrease the dose over time. The amount of the substance will slowly decrease in the system, thereby reducing withdrawal symptoms and controlling cravings.

Physician-assisted medical detox programs typically take longer but are far safer. They let the individual develop skills that are needed to deal with their substance use disorder.

Depending on the individual’s history with drug abuse and/or relapse, the process can last between eight weeks and six months.

Is Medical Detox Necessary?

Medical detox is not necessary for everyone undergoing withdrawal from Valium, but it is strongly recommended for everyone. This is because of the potential for seizures that could be fatal, hallucinations, and/or the development of delirium.

There is no way to predict who might develop potentially dangerous and even fatal withdrawal symptoms.

Relapse rates are extremely high when individuals are undergoing withdrawal symptoms and the potential to overdose on Valium or some other drug increases.

Anyone who is abusing Valium and wants to stop should first consult with a physician before totally discontinuing use. Medical assistance is required to safely detox from Valium and other benzodiazepines.

Your Recovery Journey Can Begin Today

If you or a loved one is experiencing a substance use disorder related to Valium, there is help available to lead you to overcome your addiction. To learn more about Valium addiction and how it can be treated, we advise that you speak to an addiction specialist at Serenity at Summit.

You can take the first steps toward a better tomorrow by calling (844)-326-4514 today. Addiction may be a chronic disease that is challenging to overcome, but with Serenity at Summit, you never have to go through it alone. We are here when you are ready.