In This Article
What is Valium?
Valium is the brand name for diazepam, which is a type of benzodiazepine. Benzodiazepines (commonly called "benzos") are prescription medications used to treat a number of conditions. Valium is typically prescribed to treat anxiety disorders, muscle spasms, certain sleep disorders, restless leg syndrome, and alcohol withdrawal. It is also used for sedation before, during, or after certain medical procedures like surgery, MRI scans, and colonoscopies.
Valium works by boosting GABA activity in the brain. The chemical GABA reduces brain activity in regions that help control thoughts, emotions, memory, and involuntary functions like breathing. This causes your muscles to relax, drowsiness to increase, and anxiety to decrease.
However, Valium can be dangerous. It should only be taken according to a doctor's prescription. There are several risks related to Valium, including:
- Depressed breathing, extreme drowsiness or confusion, or impaired motor function can be caused by having too much Valium in your system.
- Long-term term use of Valium can lead to memory loss, sleeping disorders, depression, and other serious effects.
- Diazepam is highly addictive. Users can develop a tolerance and physical dependence over time. It also has a high potential for abuse. Many users enjoy the sedative effects and misuse the drug, resulting in addiction.
Saliva: up to 10 days
Urine: up to six weeks
Blood: up to two days
Hair: 90+ days
How Long Does Valium Last?
Users start to feel the effects of Valium within 15 minutes after taking an oral dose. It will be strongest about one hour after ingestion. The actual effects of Valium will wear off after 4 to 6 hours.
However, because Valium is a long-lasting benzodiazepine, it stays in your body for much longer. Doctors use the term "half-life" to describe how long it takes your body to eliminate half of one dose of a drug. The half-life of Valium is approximately 48 hours.
This means that after 48 hours, half of the ingested Valium will be out of your body. After 48 hours, half of the remaining Valium will be eliminated, and so forth. It will take several days for one dose of Valium to leave your system.
Also, Valium accumulates in the body. This means that if someone takes multiple doses over time, it will extend the half-life and keep Valium in your system longer.
What are Metabolites?
As your body metabolizes drugs, they break down into smaller substances called "metabolites." Metabolites are the intermediate byproducts of your body breaking down and getting rid of a drug.
Every healthy body metabolizes drugs the same way (though the speed and side effects vary). Therefore, certain metabolites are reliable proof that someone used the parent drug. Many metabolites have longer half-lives than the parent drug. This is why drug tests often screen for metabolites, as well as the drugs themselves.
Valium produces several metabolites, the three most important are nordiazepam, oxazepam, and temazepam. Oxazepam has a half-life of about 4 to 15 hours, and temazepam has a half-life of 8-22 hours. Once Valium is metabolized into these substances, they are eliminated from the body in 1 to 3 days. However, nordiazepam's half-life is 40 to 99 hours, so it remains in your body for much longer.
Factors That Influence How Long Valium Stays in Your System
The half-life of Valium will vary depending on age, gender, dosage, and underlying health issues.
Children: The half-life is up to 8 hours. Premature babies have an increased half-life.
Elderly: The half-life is up to 20 hours.
Underlying liver condition: The half-life is in excess of 100+ hours.
Other factors that determine how long Valium stays in your system include:
- Body fat
- Underlying health conditions
- Other drugs
- Route of administration
How Long Does Valium Stay in Your System?
Several different drug tests can detect Valium metabolites. The period of time Valium stays in the system can vary based on individual factors. All listed times are averages:
Urine Test: Valium is detectable in urine tests for one to six weeks.
Blood Test: Valium blood tests can test positive for six hours to two days from the last dose. Blood tests are less common because they are more invasive and have shorter detection windows.
Hair Test: In general, substances are detectable in hair follicles for 90 days. Valium is no different.
Saliva Test: A saliva drug test can detect Valium use from one to 10 days after the dose is taken.
What Drugs are Similar to Valium?
Valium is a long-acting benzodiazepine. Benzodiazepines are commonly prescribed for anxiety disorders, muscle spasms, and other sedative uses. Benzodiazepines are widely prescribed and are all highly addictive. Besides Valium, here are some of the most commonly prescribed “Benzos:”
It’s dangerous to combine any substance on this list with Valium. The medicines are central nervous system depressants, which can lead to a host of serious medical conditions. Side effects and symptoms are similar between benzodiazepines.
Valium Addiction & Treatment
Valium is an addictive drug. A physical drug dependence can develop even after short-term use. People with a history of mental health issues or substance abuse are more likely to develop a substance use disorder with Valium. However, everyone is susceptible to it.
Recognizing Valium Addiction
When someone develops an addiction to Valium, it can affect their life and relationships. They may find themselves struggling to fulfill obligations at work or with their friends and family. Common signs of Valium abuse and addiction include:
- Normal doses do not have the same medical effects they used to
- Progressively increasing the dose to achieve desired effects
- Taking higher doses or taking doses more frequently than prescribed
- Increased stress or agitation
- Increased cravings for alcohol or increased alcohol consumption
- Higher incidence and severity of side effects
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms (such as muscle spasms, sleep issues, panic attacks, delirium, common cold symptoms, etc.)
Treatment for Valium Addiction
Fortunately, there are several treatment options for those who are struggling with Valium addiction. The first step to achieve long term recovery is detoxification. Weaning off of Valium can be difficult, and it is best to undergo this portion of treatment under medical supervision. Addiction therapy can help a person detox safely.
Medical Detox: Detox treatment is a form of recovery that provides a stable environment within a treatment center for the effects of withdrawal symptoms. The intensity of withdrawal symptoms are dependent upon the level of addiction and frequency of use. However, withdrawal symptoms can cause a number of effects on the body, including but not limited to:
Detox treatment is designed to directly counteract the chronic or persistent side effects of withdrawal symptoms. Your healthcare provider may recommend detoxification treatment as an option for chronic drug abuse.
Inpatient Care: Addiction centers that provide inpatient care provide 24-hour medical care. Rehab with inpatient care for substance use disorder (SUD) is reserved for more severe addictions. Medical professionals deliver intense mental health treatment in combination with medical treatment to assist with withdrawal symptoms. These programs typically last 30, 60, or 90 days but can be longer in special cases.
Outpatient Treatment: Outpatient treatment offers rehabilitative care without overnight stays. Addiction centers are set up to provide job counseling, medical treatment, and therapeutic treatments to those that opt for outpatient care.
If you or a loved one is struggling with Valium addiction, don't hesitate to get help. Speak with an addiction specialist to review your treatment options.