Diazepam, commonly marketed under the brand name Valium, is a widely prescribed benzodiazepine with a number of uses. It is used as an anticonvulsant, anxiolytic, sedative, and muscle relaxant 1. Diazepam is also used to manage seizures and agitation associated with alcohol withdrawal 2. The drug is rarely prescribed for longer than 4 months due to its dependence potential. Many people abuse diazepam for desirable effects, such as relaxation and feelings of well-being. Once a user begins a cycle of Valium abuse, addiction can soon follow 2. Developing an addiction to a prescription pain medication, such as Valium, is quite serious, and is best treated in a professional facility using a combination of therapy and medical support.
Below are some statistics concerning benzodiazepine abuse 3,4,5,6:
Diazepam is a Schedule IV drug, meaning that it carries a risk for drug abuse and dependence 8. When your body develops dependence to a drug, your brain and various physiological processes will begin to function properly only when the drug is present in the system. At this point, should you stop your use of diazepam, you will likely experience withdrawal symptoms.
If you or someone you love is addicted to Valium and is thinking of stopping their use, it is important to seek professional detox treatment
Benzodiazepine withdrawal is similar to alcohol or barbiturate withdrawal in that it is characterized by a set of uncomfortable and in some cases, life-threatening symptoms 8. If you or someone you love is addicted to Valium and is thinking of stopping their use, it is important to seek professional detox treatment to minimize your risk of a complicated or, even, life-threatening withdrawal.
Valium withdrawal symptoms include 8:
In general, symptoms of withdrawal from diazepam will be more severe the longer you have abused the drug 8.According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), as many as 20-30% of people withdrawing from sedatives without treatment experience a seizure 9. With the support of a Valium detox program, you can detox from the drug safely under the supervision of medical care professionals.
Individual detox timelines will vary based on a number of factors. For instance, if you were only using Valium, your detoxification experience and duration will be very different than someone’s who was using Valium, alcohol, and opioids.
The detoxification protocol for Valium will likely consist of a tapering schedule in which the dose is gradually reduced over a set period of time, but before starting your drug detox program, you will first meet with a physician to ensure that you are medically stable. Your doctor will assess the severity of your addiction and likelihood of experiencing a complicated benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome and create an appropriate dosing schedule ranging from several days to weeks.
A gradual tapering schedule will help individuals wean off of Valium and minimize the abrupt onset of uncomfortable and potentially harmful withdrawal effects, such as seizure. Withdrawal symptoms can be the most severe when you abruptly discontinue your drug use, so tapering can be an especially effective way to gradually reduce the amount of the medication in your system 9.
Although the timeline for withdrawal from Valium will vary from person to person, below is a general outline of how your withdrawal from benzodiazepines may progress 9:
The length and severity of your symptoms will be affected by your:
Given the widespread abuse of Valium and similar drugs, there are numerous detox facilities that are equipped to safely assist you throughout the withdrawal process.
It can be difficult to approach a loved one about their Valium use. If you or someone you love is addicted to diazepam it is likely that they have exhibited at least a few of the following signs, indicating that they may be struggling with a benzodiazepine use disorder. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), if you or someone you know exhibits at least 2 of the following symptoms in a 12-month period, they are likely addicted to Valium—or meet criteria for what is known as a Sedative, Hypnotic, or Anxiolytic Use Disorder—and could benefit from detox treatment 9:
If you think that you or someone you know is addicted to Valium, formal detox treatment may be a beneficial option. You can search through our directory or call your insurance to see which programs are covered.
Valium detox at home can be dangerous. Professional detox programs are equipped to handle your medical and psychological needs and can help manage and minimize withdrawal symptoms associated with drug addiction and the ensuing detoxification process. Engaging in a professional Valium detox program is the first step on the road to recovery from drug abuse. Some of the benefits of formal detox programs include:
There is a scarcity of definitive research into the effects of long-term Valium abuse, but generally chronic use of benzodiazepines can increase your risk for the following 8:
Given the associated risks of Valium withdrawal, the best way for you to stop using the drug is through professional detox treatment, where you can quit the drug safely and comfortably.
You can receive detox services on an inpatient or outpatient basis. Outpatient detoxification generally requires that you travel to a hospital or treatment facility daily to receive treatment. Depending on the program, your treatment sessions will be scheduled in the daytime or evening. Detox will begin with an initial assessment to help determine your detox schedule and dosing. You may be asked to provide your medical and mental health history, as well as conduct a physical examination. During detoxification, a medical team will assess and treat your withdrawal symptoms to help ensure you are as safe and comfortable as possible.
It may be the case that outpatient treatment is not appropriate for your situation. If you require more supervision and medical care, inpatient detox is ideal. Inpatient detox offers medical support and monitoring 24/7 so that you will remain safe while you rid your body of Valium. These detox settings are additionally extremely useful in removing you from your environment so you can avoid triggers to use Valium. Inpatient is particularly important for someone suffering from significant diazepam dependence since withdrawal can be potentially fatal due to the risk of seizures.
After completing an appropriate Valium detox program, you will then need to transition into the next level of treatment—inpatient or outpatient addiction treatment. This is a natural transition, as formal treatment after detox will allow you to focus on your rehabilitation once the drug is safely removed from your body and equip you with the skills necessary to live without drugs. In treatment you will meet other people who are going through recovery and create a stable network of non-drug using contacts that will serve as support whenever you feel urges or cravings to use Valium after leaving treatment.
You may receive specific medications to make sure you are comfortable and safe during the withdrawal process. Some of the medications commonly used to treat benzodiazepine withdrawal include 12:
If you forego formal treatment following detox, you run the risk of relapsing and possibly overdosing. After Valium detox, your body is stabilized and your tolerance has been reduced. Without formal treatment, your likelihood of returning to drug use is much higher, and with a lower tolerance, you may be more at risk of overdosing.
Going to treatment may be the first time you have slowed down and reflected on your drug use. In treatment you can tune out all of the triggers to use Valium and focus on yourself and your recovery. Many people do not take this opportunity while they are struggling with Valium addiction and the consequences can be huge.
Additionally, many people who are addicted to benzodiazepines have a co-occurring mental health disorder or substance use disorder that is fueling their Valium addiction. In treatment, you will work with medical care professionals to address any co-occurring issues you are dealing with. You will learn coping skills so you feel equipped to handle any challenges you face after treatment. For example, you may take part in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) during treatment which helps you recognize what triggers you to use Valium. Recognizing your own triggers can help you figure out how to best respond when you feel an urge to use the drug after treatment.
During inpatient treatment you live at the facility for the duration of the program. Although each facility is different in their approach to treating Valium addiction, all inpatient facilities provide an intense level of supervision and support throughout your time in rehab. Inpatient treatment programs provide a wide array of services, and depending on the facility they may include:
One thing to keep in mind is that inpatient treatment tends to cost more than outpatient treatment due to the high level of care it provides. In addition, the cost may be higher if the facility has nicer amenities such as:
The other option for treatment is through the outpatient model, which includes different levels of care. Depending on the severity of your Valium addiction, you can work with a physician to determine which program will be the most appropriate after detox 11: