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Valium Signs, Withdrawal Symptoms, & Side Effects

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Valium is a medication commonly prescribed to treat anxiety, panic disorders, seizures, and muscle spasms. However, it can also be habit-forming and lead to dependence. When a person stops using Valium after an extended period, they may experience rebound symptoms, such as anxiety, insomnia, and irritability. Withdrawal symptoms can also occur and range from mild to severe, depending on the duration and intensity of use.

If you or a loved one are struggling to control the use of Valium, other prescription medications, or illicit drugs, contact Guardian Recovery today to learn more about our integrated addiction treatment programs that address the shared underlying factors that contribute to both substance misuse and mental health conditions such as anxiety. We offer highly personalized treatment plans designed to help individuals achieve abstinence, prevent relapse, and sustain long-lasting sobriety, health, and well-being.

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Physical & Psychological Side Effects of Using Valium

Valium is a benzodiazepine classified by the Drug Enforcement Administration as a Schedule IV substance due to its potential for misuse and dependence. (1) It can be very effective in managing the conditions for which it’s intended, but it’s also been associated with both physical and psychological side effects. While not everyone will experience every side effect in the same way, there are some that are particularly common.

The duration of Valium side effects can vary depending on factors such as dosage, frequency of use, and individual metabolism. In general, acute effects typically resolve within a few hours, and long-term effects can endure for days, weeks, or indefinitely while the drug is in use.

Short-Term Side Effects Include:

  • Drowsiness, sleepiness, sedation, and fatigue.
  • Muscle weakness.
  • Impaired motor skills and coordination.
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness.
  • Headaches.
  • Blurred vision.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Constipation, nausea, and changes in appetite.
  • Respiratory depression and slowed breathing.

Long-Term Effects Include:

  • Impaired cognitive function, including concentration, memory, and attention.
  • Reduced emotional responsiveness or emotional numbness.
  • Confusion, especially in higher doses or in susceptible individuals.
  • Dramatic mood changes.
  • Memory problems and difficulties in forming new memories.
  • Impaired balance, slowed reaction times, and reduced ability to perform tasks that require fine motor skills.
  • Physical and psychological dependence and addiction.

Rebound & Withdrawal Symptoms Associated With Valium Dependence

Rebound effects and withdrawal symptoms can occur when an individual becomes physically dependent on Valium and either significantly reduces the dosage or abruptly stops taking it. (2) These symptoms are the body’s response to the medication’s removal after it has become accustomed to its presence.

Rebound & Withdrawal Symptoms Include:

  • Rebound anxiety, including nervousness and restlessness, which may be more intense than the original symptoms and persist for several weeks.
  • Other psychological symptoms such as mood swings, depression, and irritability
  • Rebound insomnia and the reemergence of sleep disturbances or frequent night awakenings.
  • Muscle stiffness, aches, and pains.
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea that can last for several days.
  • Hypersensitivity to sensory stimuli, such as light, sound, or touch.

Valium Withdrawal Timeline

Symptoms associated with Valium withdrawal typically begin to emerge within a day or so after the drug is reduced or stopped after excessive or prolonged use. Although the intensity and duration of symptoms vary, there is a general timeline that can provide a broad overview of what to expect and when to expect it during Valium withdrawal.

  • First 24-72 hours—Within the first few days after discontinuing Valium, withdrawal symptoms will start to manifest. Common early symptoms can include rebound anxiety, restlessness, irritability, muscle stiffness, and insomnia. Gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea or stomach discomfort may also be experienced.
  • Days 3-7—Withdrawal symptoms tend to peak in severity during this time. Anxiety and insomnia may worsen, and individuals might experience increased restlessness and irritability. Other symptoms can include muscle aches, tremors, sweating, and an elevated heart rate. Gastrointestinal symptoms, if present, may also persist or intensify.

Week 2 and Beyond—Withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety and insomnia usually subside during the second week, although some may continue to experience these effects at a milder level. Other physical symptoms, such as muscle stiffness and gastrointestinal issues, also tend to resolve during this period. Psychological symptoms such as mood swings, depression, and difficulty concentrating may gradually improve but can take longer to fully resolve.

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What Symptoms Are Caused by an Overdose of Valium?

A Valium overdose can occur when an individual takes more than the prescribed dosage or misuses the medication. (3) Overdosing on Valium can have devastating consequences and may require immediate medical intervention.

Valium Overdose Symptoms Include:

  • Extreme drowsiness, sedation, difficulty staying awake, and little or no response to stimuli.
  • Confusion and disorientation, trouble understanding one’s surroundings, communicating effectively, or recognizing familiar people or objects.
  • Slow, shallow, labored, or difficulty breathing.
  • Slurred or incoherent speech.
  • Severe impairment in motor coordination, including difficulty walking, stumbling, or appearing unsteady.
  • Pronounced muscle weakness and difficulty performing basic movements and supporting one’s own body weight.
  • Blurred, impaired, or double vision.
  • Dizziness and lightheadedness.
  • Low blood pressure, manifesting as weakness and a weak pulse.
  • Coma, or a state of unconsciousness in which the individual is unresponsive to stimuli and unable to be aroused.

An overdose of Valium or another benzodiazepine is considered a medical emergency, and it is crucial to seek immediate help if suspected. If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, call 911, the local poison control center, or visit an emergency department promptly.

Valium Misuse & Co-Occurring Mental Health Disorders

Co-occurring psychiatric disorders, also known as dual diagnosis, occur when an individual experiences both addiction and a mental health condition concurrently. Regarding Valium misuse, it is not uncommon for individuals to have underlying emotional issues, particularly anxiety, that contribute to or are exacerbated by their substance misuse.

Mental Health Conditions Associated With Valium Misuse Include:

  • Anxiety and panic disorders.
  • Major depressive disorder, suicidal thoughts.
  • Bipolar disorder.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  • Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
  • Personality disorders, such as borderline personality disorder.

Above all, it is crucial to address both Valium misuse and co-occurring psychiatric disorders using an integrated treatment approach that addresses both conditions at the same time, which tends to yield better outcomes.

Valium Addiction Treatment for Withdrawal Symptoms and Effects

Valium addiction treatment typically involves using a comprehensive, integrated approach that addresses both the physical and psychological aspects of substance use. (4) The primary goals of treatment are to manage withdrawal symptoms, address the underlying causes of addiction, develop healthy coping skills, and support long-term recovery.

Common Treatment Approaches Include:

  • Medical Detox—This process involves gradually weaning an individual off of Valium under medical supervision to minimize potentially severe withdrawal symptoms and safely remove the drug from the body. In some cases, other medications may be used to relieve withdrawal symptoms.
  • Residential Inpatient or Outpatient Rehab—After detox, individuals may enter an inpatient or outpatient program to continue treatment. Inpatient programs provide 24/7 care in a structured setting, whereas outpatient programs offer more flexibility and allow individuals to live at home while participating in treatment sessions.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)—CBT and similar strategies help individuals address the underlying causes of addiction, develop healthier coping strategies, and prevent relapse. They are commonly used to identify and modify thoughts, behaviors, and attitudes related to substance misuse.
  • Support Groups—Support group participation in programs such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA), can provide valuable support, motivation, and encouragement throughout the recovery process. These groups offer individuals an opportunity to connect with others and provide a safe space to share experiences and receive ongoing guidance.
  • Dual Diagnosis Treatment—If there is a co-occurring mental health disorder in addition to the Valium addiction, specialized therapies and medications are often necessary to address both the addiction and the mental health disorder simultaneously.

Aftercare Planning—This involves developing a comprehensive, individualized plan for continued support and relapse prevention after a formal treatment program has been completed. This may include regular therapy sessions and ongoing support group attendance.

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Contact Us Today for Help With Valium Addiction & Withdrawal

It is critical to seek comprehensive treatment to address Valium dependence and withdrawal in addition to underlying mental conditions that may contribute to the desire to misuse substances. We encourage you to connect with our highly skilled team of addiction specialists, who can evaluate your unique circumstances and recommend an appropriate treatment plan tailored to your needs.

If you are motivated to reclaim your life free from the grip of substance use, reach out to us to learn more about our streamlined admissions process, evidence-based treatments and therapies, medication-assisted treatment, and holistic approaches. To speak with an experienced Treatment Advisor and receive a free, no-obligation health insurance benefit check, contact Guardian Recovery today.

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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.dea.gov/drug-information/drug-scheduling
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2889722/
  3. https://ufhealth.org/diazepam-overdose
  4. https://bmcpsychiatry.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-244X-14-67

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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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