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Valium Detox, Treatment & Rehab

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Valium (diazepam) belongs to a group of medications called benzodiazepines. It is primarily used to treat seizures, muscle spasms or twitches, but is sometimes used to ease anxiety, especially before a medical procedure.

Sometimes the drug is prescribed to people in rehabilitation for alcohol use disorder because small doses of Valium reduce mental, emotional, and physical irritation during withdrawal.

If you or someone you know struggles with dependence on Valium or another substance, Guardian Recovery can help. We will work with you to develop an individualized and effective program to help you recover from addiction and get you on the road to long-term recovery. We believe in the benefits of a full curriculum of clinical care, beginning with medical detoxification, transitioning into a higher level of treatment, and concluding with personalized aftercare planning. Contact us today to learn more about our treatment options in your area.

Like many medications, Valium produces side effects in some people. Minor side effects include:

  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Headache

Other side effects are more concerning. If you are taking Valium and experience the following, speak to your healthcare professional immediately.

  • Allergic reactions such as skin rash, itching, hives, swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat.
  • Evidence that your central nervous system is malfunctioning, like slow or shallow breathing, shortness of breath, feeling faint, dizziness, confusion, and trouble staying awake.
  • Thoughts of suicide or self-harm, worsening mood, and feelings of depression.

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Can You Become Addicted & Dependent on Valium?

While Valium is typically viewed as a medication with minimal risks, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) warns that misuse is often seen among teenagers and young adults. These individuals may consume the drug orally or even snort it for recreational purposes. This behavior is notably prevalent among individuals who use heroin or cocaine.

Even under the guidance of a medical professional, there’s a risk of developing an addiction to Valium, if you consume more of the drug than recommended, either in terms of quantity or frequency. There’s also a risk that your body builds up a tolerance, causing you to consume more Valium to achieve the same effect.

It’s important to note that Valium can remain in your system for up to a week, making combining it with other substances a risky endeavor.

Whether you develop a substance use disorder depends on several factors, including genetic makeup, environment, and developmental influences. If you have a genetic predisposition or mental health disorders, you may face an increased risk of addiction. Other factors such as economic status, peer pressure, and exposure to abuse can also contribute to the likelihood of developing an addiction.

Signs & Symptoms of Valium & Benzodiazepine Dependence

Valium works by enhancing the effect of a neurotransmitter called gamma-amino butyric acid (GABA) in the brain. Neurotransmitters are chemicals that nerves in the brain use to communicate with each other. This interaction with GABA causes a soothing effect in the brain.

When taken for recreational purposes or at higher doses than prescribed, Valium produces an intensely euphoric high that can lead to addiction.

Signs of Valium addiction include:

  • Aggression and irritability.
  • Continued use of the drug despite health or relationship consequences.
  • Excessive sleep.
  • Excitability and jitteriness 
  • Lack of connectedness to loved ones and friends.
  • Memory loss.
  • Mood fluctuations.
  • Shallow, labored breathing.
  • Strong drug cravings.

If you take Valium intravenously, you may develop the following, serious medical issues:

  • Blood clots and deep vein thrombosis. 
  • Infections such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C, HIV, and AIDS.
  • Vein damage and scarring.

How Long Does it Take for Valium Addiction to Develop?

You can become addicted to Valium after just a few days of use, but taking the medication for longer periods of time makes you more likely to build up a tolerance and develop a dependency on the drug.

Can You Detox from Valium Dependence on Your Own?

Getting professional help for Valium addiction is absolutely crucial. Some symptoms that come with withdrawal can be extremely risky and could even result in death. Seeking help from professionals can lower these risks, making the withdrawal process safer and reducing the chances of going back to the drug.

Stopping Valium all at once — “cold turkey” — is strongly discouraged. If you have developed a physical dependence on Valium, stopping its use suddenly will lead to more severe symptoms compared to gradually reducing the dosage. This gradual reduction, known as tapering off, allows your dependence on the medication to decrease slowly, which reduces the severity of withdrawal symptoms.

Valium Addiction Detox & Rehab Process

The first step in treating a Valium addiction is detox, or detoxification. Detox helps you safely rid your body of Benzodiazepine so you may proceed to the next stage of addiction treatment. You should never attempt Valium detox alone or without the presence of a medical professional as the effects of withdrawal can be dangerous. Besides experiencing withdrawal symptoms, the medical symptoms that Valium was originally prescribed to treat often recur during detox.

Valium Withdrawal Timeline

Week 1  Valium stays in your system for a long time so it might take up to a week before you start feeling withdrawal symptoms. Early signs could include an increased heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature.

Week 2 — In the second week of withdrawal, you might find that your symptoms reach their highest level. You could experience shaking, anxiety, confusion, sweating, restlessness, hallucinations, and even seizures.

Weeks 3 & 4 — By the time you’ve been off the drug for about a month, you’ll likely notice a significant reduction in your symptoms, or they might have disappeared altogether.

Long-Term Valium Withdrawal

If you’re withdrawing from benzodiazepines like Valium, you might experience what’s known as post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) or protracted withdrawal. This is a group of symptoms that can stick around for weeks, months, or even years after you’ve stopped using the drug. These symptoms usually show up outside the usual withdrawal timeframe.

The symptoms of PAWS can vary, but they may include:

  • Trouble with learning, problem-solving, or remembering things.
  • Feeling irritable.
  • Feeling anxious.
  • Feeling depressed.
  • Cravings for the drug.
  • Problems with sleep.
  • Difficulty dealing with stress.

Long Does it Take to Detox from Valium?

Initial detox from Valium may take up to four weeks but how long it takes depends upon many factors including how severe your addiction is and how much you were taking. Other factors that can affect your withdrawal time include:

  • How long you have been abusing Valium.
  • Mental health status.
  • Physical health.
  • Co-occurring dependence on other drugs.

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The Treatment Process for Valium Dependence

The rehab process begins with an assessment, where a healthcare professional will determine the severity of your addiction and any co-occurring medical or mental health conditions. This assessment helps in developing an individualized treatment plan.

Additional steps include:

  • Detoxification.
  • Inpatient or outpatient treatment.
  • Behavioral therapy or counseling.
  • Support groups.
  • Medication-assisted treatment (MAT).
  • Aftercare.

Medications Used During Treatment

The medication used during treatment for Valium addiction depends upon the method used in detox.

Tapering — Tapering is the process of gradually reducing the dosage of the medication to prevent the body from going into shock. In most cases, the dose of Valium is lessened by 5mg each week until there’s no more Valium in your system. This gradual reduction is why it’s so crucial to follow-up medical detox with the next suitable level of care. Often, tapering needs to continue even when a patient enters an inpatient drug rehab program.

Medication-Assisted Treatment — If you have a severe case of Valium dependence, you may be given an anti-seizure medication as a precautionary step. Over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen and ibuprofen are also provided to lessen physical discomfort. If you have trouble sleeping, sleep aids might be offered. In some situations, antipsychotic medications might be prescribed to help manage the psychological symptoms of Valium withdrawal, which can include anxiety, depression, and hallucinations.

How Long Are Valium Detox & Addiction Treatment Programs?

Most detox and addiction treatment programs run from 30 to 45 days, but the time you spend will depend upon your situation. It’s also important to remember that remaining engaged with your recovery community will increase your chances of long-term sobriety. Attending regular support meetings such as those offered by Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and similar groups will keep you connected to others who understand you and can help you when you are tempted to use.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment & Co-Occurring Disorders

Dual diagnosis treatment is an approach that helps people with both addiction and mental health problems. Sometimes, individuals who struggle with addiction also have conditions like depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder. Dual diagnosis treatment acknowledges that these conditions are interconnected and provides comprehensive care for both.

Rehab Options & Treatment Programs for Valium Addiction

Several options are available to you once you decide to address your addiction. The program that is best for you will depend on several factors, including family and work obligations, insurance coverage, your level of addiction, and whether you are dealing with a co-occurring disorder.

Inpatient Rehabilitation

Residential or inpatient treatment involves co-living with people who are also working on their recovery. This immersive experience provides a safe environment where you can feel a sense of community and companionship with your peers and receive professional, compassionate care from clinical and medical experts. Treatment duration varies but typically lasts about 30 day

Outpatient Rehab

With outpatient rehab (OP), you continue to live at home and attend programs two to three times a week, focusing on relapse prevention and healthy coping skills. Some OP programs also offer vocational or education-related services.

OP therapy allows you to pursue employment or spend more time with family and friends while still having the autonomy to make your own choices.

Partial Hospitalization Program

Most people in recovery take part in a partial hospitalization program (PHP) once they complete residential treatment. PHP programs include a full schedule of activities — like those offered in inpatient programs — five or six days weekly. While in PHP, you will live in a sober or private home and visit the PHP facility during the day.

Intensive Outpatient Program

The next step in your recovery journey may be Intensive Outpatient Treatment (IOP). Once in IOP, you can return to work, school, and other activities, while living in a sober or private home. You will attend treatment for several hours daily, three to five days a week.

Virtual & Online Treatment & Counseling

Virtual addiction treatment makes it easier to access care from anywhere, at any time. Virtual therapy lets you connect with a therapist or counselor through video conferencing platforms such as Skype or Zoom. This eliminates the need for travel and allows you to receive treatment without leaving home. Virtual addiction treatment programs provide 24/7 support services so that individuals can access resources whenever needed.

After you have gone through the detoxification process and completed the rehabilitation program, it is important to understand how to prevent relapse to maintain long-term sobriety.

These strategies may include identifying triggers and warning signs of a potential relapse, developing coping mechanisms to manage cravings or stress, and seeking social support networks to offer guidance and comfort during difficult times.

Achieving Long-term Sobriety

You can achieve long-term sobriety by developing and sticking to a multi-faceted recovery program that includes components that support your emotional, physical, and mental health. Straying from that program is not a moral failing; it’s often just a part of life.

Addiction is a chronic condition that involves changing deeply-rooted behaviors. Relapse does not mean you have failed. Returning to your program and getting the help you need as quickly as possible is key to regaining your sobriety.

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No matter the substance, the best way to overcome addiction is with the help of experienced, trusted professionals like those at Guardian Recovery. We provide comprehensive treatment, including medically-assisted detox, therapy, specialty programs, and reintegration support. Our caring and skilled administrative, medical, and clinical teams will guide you through every step of your recovery process from the first time you call and work with you to develop an individualized and effective program to help you recover from addiction and get you on the road to long-term recovery. We provide a complimentary assessment and a free insurance benefits check and help coordinate local travel to our facility. All you have to do is ask; we will take care of the rest. Contact us today to learn more about our treatment options in your area.

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Disclaimer: Does not guarantee specific treatment outcomes, as individual results may vary. Our services are not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis; please consult a qualified healthcare provider for such matters.

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/opioids/basics/prescribed.html
  2. https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_chem_info/benzo.pdf
  3. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2021/013263s096lbl.pdf
  4. https://www.aafp.org/pubs/afp/issues/2013/0815/p224.html
  5. https://www.dea.gov/drug-information/drug-scheduling
  6. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugfacts/prescription-cns-depressants

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Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave

L.M.H.C.

Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

Written by:

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

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