Valium – How It Affects Your Body and How Long It Lasts

Medically Reviewed

In 2016, there were 6,606,346 prescriptions written for diazepam, the generic form of Valium, in the U.S. Valium is classified as a benzodiazepine. It is primarily prescribed to treat a variety of anxiety disorders, such as panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Keep reading to learn more about how this medication works and how long it stays in the body.

Exploring Valium And Its Half-Life

After taking Valium orally, about 90 percent of the drug is absorbed by the body, with the peak concentration occurring in about 1 to 1.5 hours, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Valium is a long-acting type of benzodiazepine with a half-life ranging from 20 to 50 hours for a 5 mg (milligrams) dose.

In addition to anxiety disorders, Valium might be prescribed as a muscle relaxer, for those coming off an alcohol dependence, or as an anti-seizure medicine.

Valium induces relaxation due to its calming effect. It works by increasing GABA (gamma-Aminobutyric acid) levels in the brain. The increase in this brain chemical is responsible for the calming effect.

How Long Does It Take To Detox From Valium?

There are several theories regarding the detox and withdrawal timeline for Valium. The stage model is among the most widely accepted, according to CNS Drugs.

Within about one to four days of taking the last dose, acute withdrawal symptoms can begin. These tend to be the most noticeable on days three and four.

They May Include The Following:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Cramps
  • Headaches
  • Tremors
  • Stomach pain
  • Rebound anxiety
  • Increased heart rate
  • Seizures
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Cravings for Valium
  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Panic attacks

After The Acute Period Comes The Second Phase, Which Lasts For An Average Of 10 To 14 Days. During This Phase, The Following Symptoms Are Possible:

  • Cravings for Valium
  • Mild headache
  • Nausea
  • Depression
  • Lightheadedness
  • Mild fever
  • Chills
  • Episodes of anxiety

Compared to the acute phase, the symptoms in this second phase are generally milder. After this phase, it is possible to continue to experience some depression and anxiety as the body stabilizes.

One small study of 10 patients looked specifically at a possible timeline for withdrawing from Valium. There were 10 people in this study. All had abused Valium for three to 14 years. For the six months before the study the participants took 60 mg (milligrams) to 120 mg of this drug each day. They did not use any other drugs during this time. The withdrawal period for the participants lasted an average of six weeks, according to research published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

Initially, withdrawal symptoms were intense, but during the first two weeks of the process, they started to decline. During the third week, the symptoms intensified again before again declining.

Ultimately, every person withdrawing from Valium will have an individualized experience. Because of this, getting professional help with the process from a detox center is the best choice. Attempting to withdraw from benzodiazepines on your own could result in life-threatening withdrawal symptoms, so medical supervision is always required.

Two of the more serious effects are seizures and psychosis, according to research published in Addiction. Psychosis is a condition where the mind loses at least partial contact with reality. The person might experience delusions, incoherent speech, hallucinations, inappropriate behavior, depression, sleep issues, lack of motivation, anxiety, social withdrawal, and overall difficulty functioning, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

The average seizure lasts 30 seconds to 2 minutes. They can have long-term effects or even cause the person to not wake up if the seizure exceeds 5 minutes, according to MedlinePlus. A seizure occurs as a result of abnormal brain electrical activity.

When A Seizure Occurs, The Following Symptoms Are Possible:

  • Temporary confusion
  • Convulsions
  • Emotional and cognitive issues, such as anxiety or fear
  • Staring spells
  • Loss of awareness or consciousness

How Long Does Valium Stay In Your Body?

How long Valium stays in your body plays a role in how the medication affects you. Valium is considered a long-acting type of benzodiazepine. It stays in your system and produces its effects longer than other drugs in this class. The half-life of the drug helps to explain how long someone can expect to test positive for Valium based on their last dose.

When someone is undergoing a drug test for Valium, the test may require a sample of their hair, saliva, urine, or blood.

How Long This Drug Remains Present Depends On The Following Factors:

  • Age
  • Body fat content
  • Whether the person uses other drugs
  • Method of administration
  • Weight
  • How much Valium the person takes
  • Overall kidney and liver health
  • Metabolic rate

If the person doing the test is using hair follicles, this drug may be detected for up to 90 days, according to research published in HHS Public Access. This range is true for almost all drugs and substances. Hair tests aren’t the best choice for detected current drug use; rather, they are used to detect use over the prior three months.

A urine test is one of the most common ways to determine if a person has Valium in their system. This medicine can be detectable in the urine for weeks following the last dose, according to the University of Rochester Medical Center. The range is one to six weeks after the last dose someone took.

Saliva testing is not commonly used for Valium since this drug is not detectable for long in a person’s saliva. Saliva testing may detect Valium for up to 2.5 days after the last dose.

  • Blood testing is another way to determine if a person has Valium in their system. The metabolites of the drug do not stay in the blood very long. The average is six to 48 hours after the last dose.
  • When someone goes into a detox facility, they will usually perform at least one of these tests to look at how much Valium is in a person’s system. In most cases, they will assess the Valium level by using either a urine screen or blood test.

Valium has its uses in medicine, but it does have a moderate to high potential for abuse. Those who feel they may be dependent on this drug should seek out a detox program. This can help to make the withdrawal process more comfortable and ensure the person’s safely during withdrawal. Generally, the supervising physician will put the person on a tapering schedule to gradually lower their dose of Valium over a period of weeks to months.

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