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Valium (Diazepam) Withdrawal & Detox

Last Updated: October 26, 2022

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Valium is a benzodiazepine with many indications but is most commonly used to treat anxiety, seizures or alcohol withdrawal. It is classified as a Schedule IV substance under the Controlled Substances Act, meaning addiction can develop even if taking this medication as prescribed. 

Withdrawal from diazepam can result in many uncomfortable and dangerous side effects similar to other benzodiazepines; therefore, it is not recommended to stop Valium cold turkey. Instead, tapering off Valium can reduce the chances of severe withdrawal symptoms like seizures. For this reason, taking it at the lowest effective dose and for the shortest time necessary is essential.

What Does Valium Do? 

Valium is most often used for anxiety, alcohol withdrawal or treating seizures but is also used for muscle spasms, night terrors or sedation for medical procedures. Benzos, like Valium, work by decreasing the signals between the brain and body by increasing the activity of a chemical called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). This activity increase can result in feelings of calm and relaxation, which help with anxiety.

Valium Side Effects

In addition to feeling calm and relaxed after taking Valium, it can lead to several other side effects. These can include:

  • Agitation
  • Confusion
  • Changes in mood
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Memory loss
  • Nightmares 
  • Paranoia
  • Sweating 

Can You Stop Valium Cold Turkey?

It is not recommended to stop Valium cold turkey. The body compensates for having Valium in the system consistently over time and will require time to adjust when Valium is stopped. Most people wanting to stop Valium will do so slowly over many weeks for this reason. By gradually stopping Valium, the chances of severe withdrawal symptoms like seizures are less likely. 

It is essential to discuss your desire to stop taking Valium with your healthcare provider for a personalized recommendation. Safely stopping Valium differs from person to person and will depend on many factors, including how much you take and how long you have been taking that dose. 

Valium Withdrawal Symptoms

Diazepam withdrawal can result in many symptoms, similar to other benzodiazepines. These are from abruptly stopping or tapering off of Valium too quickly and not allowing the body enough time to adjust. In general, withdrawal symptoms have the opposite effect as the substance. In the case of Valium withdrawal, symptoms can include:

  • Sleep changes
  • Mood changes 
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Tremor
  • Sweating
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Nausea
  • Weight loss
  • Fast heart rate
  • Headache
  • Muscular pain 
  • Seizures 
  • Psychotic reactions

Valium Withdrawal Timeline

The diazepam withdrawal timeline can differ from person to person and may depend on factors like how much Valium you take and for how long. Other factors include medications or alcohol taken with Valium, genetics or kidney and liver function. In general, there are three phases in the diazepam withdrawal timeline. 

  • Up to four days after your last dose, “rebound” anxiety and insomnia are common. 
  • After 10–14 days, full-blown withdrawal is most likely. 
  • In the third phase, without another treatment, anxiety returns. Treatments can include behavioral therapies like counseling or other medications.
  • For some who experience protracted withdrawal, anxiety comes and goes for many months after stopping Valium but eventually goes away. 

Benefits of Tapering off Valium

Tapering off Valium is recommended for most people. Quitting Valium this way can help prevent withdrawal symptoms and increase the likelihood of staying sober. In addition, under medical supervision, any withdrawal symptoms that happen due to tapering Valium too quickly can usually be managed easily. Most importantly, deciding to quit Valium means taking the first step toward taking your life back. 

Valium Taper Schedule

Your healthcare provider will determine the most appropriate taper schedule after considering your specific needs. However, a sample Valium taper schedule may look like this:

  • Week one: The Valium dose might be reduced slightly, if at all. 
  • Week two: Reduce your total daily dose by 25%. This reduces the total amount you take daily (even if you usually take Valium multiple times).
  • Week three: The dose may be reduced slightly or not, like during week one.
  • Week four: Reduce your total daily dose by another 25% (which will now be 50% of your starting dose).
  • Weeks five to eight: Continue without further reduction. This allows your body time to adjust to the lower dose.
  • Week nine and after: Every two weeks, reduce your total daily dose by 25% until you can safely stop taking Valium.

Valium Detox

You might wonder, “How long does it take to detox from Valium?” This timeframe can differ between people and depends on many factors, including how much you have been taking and for how long, your liver and kidney function and if you take other substances regularly. However, it can generally take the body up to 10 days to eliminate just one dose of Valium. This is because Valium has a very long half-life compared to other benzos. A substance’s half-life is the time it takes the body to metabolize and eliminate half of one dose.

Valium Addiction and Withdrawal Treatment in Columbus, Oh

At The Recovery Village Columbus, our licensed, compassionate staff and accredited facilities are here to provide you with the support you need. We offer treatment programs ranging from medical detox to inpatient and outpatient treatment. No matter where you are on your path to recovery, we can help.

Contact us if you or a loved one are ready to discuss Valium addiction. Our admissions coordinators are available to talk 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to help you lead a healthier life today.


Our Recovery Advocates are ready to answer your questions about addiction treatment and help you start your recovery.