How to Stop Taking Valium
ARTICLE SUMMARY: The safest way to stop taking Valium is by gradually reducing daily dose under medical supervision. Withdrawal can be difficult to overcome and may require significant time for recovery.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Addiction Potential
- Can I Just Quit?
- Stopping Abruptly
- Medical Detox
- Home Detox
- Tapering Guidelines
- Do I Have a Problem?
- Where to Find Help
The synthetic man-made substance diazepam is the active, main ingredient in Valium. It is a benzodiazepine medication used for many health conditions, including:
- treating anxiety disorders
- muscle spasms
- alcohol withdrawal
- treating sleep disorders
- restless leg syndrome
Valium is classified as a Schedule IV medication by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration which means that it is la ess addictive and relatively safe medication, unless taken in combination with alcohol or another drug. Still, Valium has habit-forming potential.
In fact, work by NIDA-funded researchers has found out that benzodiazepines cause addiction in a way similar to that of opioids, cannabinoids, and the club drug gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB). Moreover, a research study on benzodiazepine addictive behaviors shows that up to 44% of chronic benzo users become dependent on their drug of choice.
So, how does Valium work in the body? Your body becomes used to the effect of the main ingredient in Valium – diazepam – in your brain over time. You become drug dependent. So, when you stop taking Valium, your body has to readjust. This period of adjustment is what causes physical withdrawal symptoms, and is the time period which requires monitoring by medical professionals.
To clarify, it only takes a few weeks to develop physical dependence on Valium. Once dependent, you need to go through withdrawal to get Valium out of your system. Withdrawal effects can include a number of side effects, such as:
- body pain
- distortions in perception (smell, taste, sight, etc.)
- memory loss
- mood swings
- muscle spasms
- numbness or tingling
- personality changes
Withdrawal effects may be worse if you’ve taken Valium for the long-term management of anxiety. Still, withdrawal occurs for most people who take Valium daily for a period of a few weeks, or more. In 2015, the medical journal, BMC Psychiatry published an article that reported: even if you’ve only taken a benzodiazepine at low doses, and as prescribed… you may still experience very difficult withdrawal symptoms.
Can I Just Quit?
No, it’s never suggested that people quit Valium without medical supervision.
In fact, there are many reasons why you shouldn’t abruptly stop Valium. Valium causes strong withdrawal symptoms, which make it hard to quit. It’s easy to go back to taking Valium when it makes you feel better! And because Valium’s duration of action is so short (4-6 hours), regular dosing is very tempting.
Plus, some Valium withdrawal symptoms are dangerous and can cause serious injury. Additionally, if you are addicted to Valium, just stopping Valium probably won’t be successful – you need to address the underlying issues first. For these reasons, many people will find it difficult to quit taking Valium.
If you are experiencing a serious side effect with Valium, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online or by phone (1-800-332-1088).
It’s not a good idea to quit Valium suddenly. Doctors always recommend that you gradually reduce your Valium dose over a period of weeks to help avoid dangerous or bothersome withdrawal effects. Plus, stopping Valium suddenly can easily result in a relapse due to the severity of withdrawal symptoms, especially after long-term use.
You may be able to quit Valium cold turkey if you’ve only used it for a very short time. However, if you’ve taken Valium for more than a few weeks and developed a dependence, quitting cold-turkey is actually dangerous due to the severity of potential withdrawal effects. Always ask your doctor for guidance if you’re planning to quit taking any medication.
Step 1: Assessment.
When you arrive in a medical detox, you should be greeted by staff. Then, expect to discuss your case with clinicians so they can plan the services that you need during the detox. During this time, you’ll complete all necessary paperwork. Keep in mind that you may be asked to give a blood or urine sample for a drug test, go through a psychological evaluation, as well as physical examination. Detox staff should also take a full medical and family history. Finally, if medications can be prescribed to address withdrawal symptoms, nurses will seek prescriptions from a supervised physician.
Step 2: Tapering.
Tapering protocols sets the pace of Valium dosage reduction. This schedule is completed according to doctor’s orders. It is suggested you get familiar with Valium withdrawal symptoms by time so you know what symptoms to expect when. During the first days, you will be monitored 24-7. Report symptoms to clinic staff as they occur. And, seek emotional support when needed.
Step 3: Transition to Continued Care.
If you’re struggling with Valium addiction, a rehab program may be suggested. In fact, medical detox can begin a life of complete freedom from drug use. But if you want to prevent relapse, you need to learn how to live drug-free. Still, you’ll need to want to enroll into rehab yourself and see the benefit of what you can gain, because no one can force you to continue with addiction treatment.
The safest way to manage Valium withdrawal is follow a medically supervised taper, gradually decreasing amounts of diazepam over time. This helps to relieve withdrawal symptoms and prevent the development of seizures. Most other types of benzodiazepine dependence are treated using Valium; the short-acting benzos are placed with a long-acting one.
‘The first step in benzodiazepine withdrawal management is to stabilise the patient on an appropriate dose of diazepam.’ –World Health Organization
So, how can you treat Valium withdrawal? Aside from the tapering schedule, the most commonly prescribed medications include:
- A short half-life benzodiazepine(s).
- Phenytoin or barbiturates to control seizures.
- Propranolol to control tremors and heart rhythm, and to prevent migraines.
- Medications to manage psychosis (chlorpromazine hydrochloride, pentobarbital, phenobarbital, or haloperidol).
It is possible to detox from Valium at home, but it’s not recommended. Medical detox clinics offer around-the-clock supervision, and doctors will prescribed medications that can ease withdrawal symptoms. Also, you’ll have psychological as well as emotional support to prevent relapse.
Moreover, home detox can be risky. You may want to use Valium again to stop the withdrawal. To prevent this risk, make sure that you have support around you. Ask for medical help when needed. Keep in mind that slowly reducing the daily dose over a course of several weeks or months can help reduce the severity of a detox. Always consult with your doctor to plan your tapering schedule and to seek supervision.
Need guidance to taper safely? The Ashton Manual (Simple withdrawal from diazepam (Valium) 40mg daily Schedule 2) provides a simple tapering schedule for Valium following these instructions:
- Reduce the daily dose by 2 mg.
- First, you lower the morning dose by 2 mg.
- Then, you lower the night dose by 2 mg.
- Each interval should last 1-2 week.
- When you get down to a dose of 5mg daily, you could begin to decrease in 0.5mg doses, but most people manage with 1mg reductions.
How to stop taking Valium safely
The best way to stop taking Valium is by gradually reducing your dose over the period of weeks or months. In general, you should not taper any kind of benzodiazepine more rapidly than by 10% every three to five days, or 25% per week. Additionally, you should be evaluated daily the first week or as your condition condition indicates. Nonetheless, you must get an appropriate dosing schedule for stopping Valium by talking to your doctor.
The safest way to stop taking Valium is by consulting a doctor and following his or her instructions. You may also need to speak to a counselor or mental health professional to cope with an addiction, if your psychological dependence is keeping you from quitting.
Do I Have a Problem?
If you think you’ve got a problem…you probably do.
The first thing to do is to be honest about your medication use. Then, answer the following questions:
- Do you get ‘high’ from Valium?
- Are you using Valium to avoid emotional or mental problems?
- Do you continue to use Valium despite harm to health, social, school, or work life?
- Do you increase your daily doses without a doctor’s OK?
- Do you think about Valium all the time?
- Do you have urges to use Valium?
- Do you buy Valium from various sources (doctor’s shopping, Internet, on the streets)?
- Is it difficult to hide your use?
Where To Find Help?
If you answered one or more of the questions above with a, ‘YES’, maybe its time to consult with a professional who can confirm your condition. Doctors and professionals typically use NIDA approved drug use screening tools to assess your level of drug addiction. Who can you ask for help? Medical professionals who help diagnose substance abuse disorders include:
- Licensed Clinical Psychologists
- Medical Doctors (who specialize in addiction)
- Addiction rehabs
- Licensed psychiatrists
- Medical detox clinics
People who admit their problem are one step closer walking the road to recovery.
STEP 1: Get out of denial. Accept the fact that you have a problem with Valium. That’s the first step towards recovery. Acknowledge your physical and emotional issues, so you can seek and accept help. Only you can turn the page and create to a better life.
STEP 2: Find something that motivates you to quit. Once you admit that you have a problem, it’s time to identify your personal motivation to quit. Make a list of all the PROs and CONs, like they do in SMART Recovery. This way, you can lay everything out on the table before you make a decision to really quit.
STEP 3: Ask for help. It can be hard to quit Valium on your own, so don’t waste any of your time. Drug dependence and addiction are medical conditions, not a moral issue. There are many medically trained people who can help you. Call us, if you like. Or seek help from your prescribing doctor or a nearby detox clinic.
STEP 4: Attend rehab, if necessary. If you are diagnosed with a substance abuse disorder, a stay in addiction rehab may uncover WHY you start using Valium, and will learn you how to live without it. When you are searching for the best rehab for you, you will need to decide between two choices: inpatient or outpatient program. Valium addiction can be addresses at either an inpatient or outpatient treatment program.
Inpatient rehab is usually recommended for individuals whose addiction is too severe to handle by themselves. This program provides 24/7 medical supervision. Patients live at the facility without any life distractions. The most common services included in inpatient rehabs are:
- Individual therapy.
- Group therapy.
- Educational classes about addiction and the brain.
Outpatient rehab offers similar programs, but patients often don’t have severe cases of addiction and can handle living in their homes. This program don’t offer 24/7 monitoring, but works on a schedule with few hours several days per week. During this time, patients consult with an addiction professional to follow up their improvement.
Interested in quitting Valium (diazepam)? Once you are ready to stop taking Valium, be sure that you have all support you need. Here are some tips that can help:
TIP #1. Define your personal reasons. Make a list of reasons that will keep you in your recovery.
TIP#2. Gather emotional support. In order for you to succeed, you’ll need support from your friends and family. If you don’t have support, it will be harder to quit.
TIP #3. Gather medical resources. Educate yourself about the detox process. Consult with your doctor or a pharmacist.
Seek medical help!
For one, it’s not always easy to quit taking this medication. Developing tolerance to Valium as well as physical dependence is expected when you take diazepam daily for more than a few weeks. Plus, it’s hard to quit without experiencing side effects even when you aren’t addicted to Valium. Some diazepam withdrawal symptoms include delirium, seizures, and death. Finally, some medications may help you during Valium (diazepam) withdrawal.
Still Got Questions?
Do you still have questions about how to stop Valium? Please leave them here. We’ll be happy to try to answer you ASAP or refer you to someone who can help.
Reference Sources: PubMed: Detoxification from benzodiazepines: schedules and strategies
PubMed: 4 Physical Detoxification Services for Withdrawal From Specific Substances
Medline Plus: Diazepam
PubMed: Addiction to diazepam (Valium)
Photo credit: Skley