Dependence on Valium

Dependence on Valium occurs over the course of several weeks to months. And developing Valium dependence depends on dose and frequency of administration. More here on how dependence on Valium differs from addiction, and what you can do to treat dependence to Valium.

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Think you may be dependent on Valium?

You’re not alone. But just because you have developed dependency to Valium doesn’t mean you’re addicted. Valium (diazepam) is a benzodiazepine used to provide short-term relief for anxiety. The longer you take Valium, the higher likelihood you have of developing a dependency to the medication. Dependency results in side effects stop taking Valium.  That is why diazepam is only prescribed for the short term.

People really like Valium, though, and will continue to use long past what is considered appropriate. (Or, they won’t follow the proper tapering procedures.) This may mean that you have become physically dependent on Valium. So what exactly is Valium dependence? How does it affect you physically and mentally and what is withdrawal from Valium like? In this article, we’ll explore the difference between dependence on Valium and addiction. And if you have any questions that haven’t been answered, please, ask them in the comment sections below.

Valium dependence time: How long to be dependent on Valium?

Valium is one of those drugs which is both strong and has a high dependency rate. That is, the body becomes dependent to diazepam faster than other drugs on the market. If you use valium as directed, your body is not going to develop a dependence as fast as compared to someone who uses Valium over a long time. In fact, dependence on Valium may take several weeks or months to develop depending on dose and frequency of administration. Physical dependence on diazepam will last as long as you continue to take Valium. While Withdrawal From Valium (diazepam) is not pleasant, once it’s over, your body will no longer need diazepam to function and you’ll no longer be Valium-dependent.

Dependence on Valium symptoms

You can notice a dependency to Valium in a few ways. In general, if withdrawal symptoms occur when you diazepam dosage, lower frequency of diazepam dosing, or stop taking Valium altogether, you have developed a dependency to Valium. Signs to be on the lookout for include:

  • experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking Valium
  • increased tolerance for diazepam, or needing more diazepam to achieve original therapeutic effect
  • taking Valium to avoid withdrawal symptoms

Physical dependence on Valium

Dependence on Valium is the physical need to take Valium in order to feel normal. You can know if you’re dependent on Valium by the presence of withdrawal symptoms when you abruptly stop taking Valium or reduce dose amounts or frequency. Withdrawal symptoms include reactions in the body as it tries to function without diazepam and achieve homeostasis. The longer you use Valium, the more your body will get used to functioning with it in the system. Look out for withdrawal symptoms any time there is a change in your Valium use.

Valium dependence withdrawal

Once you’ve developed a dependence on Valium, expect to experience withdrawal when you stop taking Valium. Valium dependence withdrawal can manifest as early as a few hours after your last dose has worn off. The intensity of Valium dependence withdrawal depends on the level of dependence your body has developed. Below is a list of symptoms you may encounter at any time during your experience of withdrawal. But note that there are ways to treat Valium dependence withdrawal symptoms. This can help the severity of your withdrawal and ease any discomfort you will feel.

  • abdominal pains
  • tremors
  • sweating
  • headache
  • muscle pain
  • extreme anxiety
  • tension
  • restlessness
  • dysphoria
  • insomnia
  • tingling of extremities

Psychological dependence on Valium

It may also be possible that you have become pyschologically dependent on Valium, even during prescribed use. If you’re psychologically dependent on hydrocodone you will:

  1. Experience strong Valium cravings
  2. Feel the need to take Valium to cope with minor anxiety
  3. Feel compelled to use Valium and obssess about use
  4. Use Valium even in the presence of negative consequences

If you experience psychological dependence on Valium, reducing your dosage of diazepam or stopping Valium cold turkey may not be enough to quit Valium for good. You may want to seek out behavioral treatment to help address issues which compel Valium use. Psychologists or psychiatrists specializing in chemical dependency issues can also help diagnose other mental health issues which may be present. Psychiatrists, (who are medical doctors) can also help you figure out other medications that would work best for residual anxiety and can prescribe other medicines while treating Valium addiction.

Valium dependence vs addiction

Dependence to Valium occurs when your body has developed a need for the medication in the body. The body has grown used to the presence of diazepam in the system and needs it to behave and function normally. Dependence can develop at any time you are taking Valium as a medication. Dependence is more likely if you use Valium past what is intended or if you’re using it for recreational or addictive purposes. But while you may be dependent on Valium, this might not mean you are addicted to Valium. Addiction has deeper psychological characteristics beyond physical dependency of Valium. If you think you or someone you know is addicted, look for drug seeking behavior or if their valium use is effecting their lives negatively. Then, seek help with you family doctor or a medical professional who specializes in the treatment of chemical addictions.

Valium dependence questions

Do you still have questions about Valium dependence and addiction? We invite you to leave us your questions about dependence on Valium below. We welcome all questions and try to answer each one personally and promptly.

Reference Sources: NHTSA: Drug and human performance fact sheets: diazepam
NCBI: Diazepam dependence prevented by glutamate antagonists
NCBI: The benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome and its management
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.


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  1. I have been prescribed diazepam for chronic insomnia by my GP she has stated for two weeks , I have been taking the dose as prescribed and this would be the fifth night should I be concerned re dependence at this stage. I have felt agitated tonight and felt a certain weakness coupled with some slight body tremors, your advice would be greatly appreciated.

  2. Ive been taking valium for over a year now to treat anxiety and muscle s poo asm due to rectocele and other health issues. I use it with benedryl so I fan eat without having food aklergy. Ive been slowly tappering off kast two weeks. I go ror xolair shot Monday to help with hives. My gial is eventually to get off benedryl and valium all together. Any suggestions to h err lp me. Im still recovering from surgery and honestly dont know if Im going about this the right way

  3. If I take valium 4 days a week and stay sober for the other 3 – Will I become dependent physically on valium

    1. Hi Zoe.
      Valium is a benzodiazepine medication that should be used in accordance with a prescription. Any use without a proper guidance and prescription is considered illegal and dangerous. You should’t start nor stop taking Valium by yourself. Once you start taking Valium there is no strict rule after how long you’ll develop tolerance and physical dependence. Each person responds differently to different doses. That’s why it’s highly recommended that you visit your doctor regularly and discuss with him/her about all the symptoms you are experiencing while on Ambien therapy.

  4. I have been taking valium for many years. There are days I don’ take any but no more than 3 or 4 days. Ihave GAD. Is there an herb that Is ok to take while I try to stop?

    1. Hi Jen. Many people use kava, lavander, or valerian as an alternative treatment for anxiety. You may find more info, here:
      Before ending Valium, I suggest that you consult with your doctor to help you plan an individualized tapering schedule. Also, take a look into the Ashton Manual:
      It is a manual that can help you with dealing benzodiazepine dependence and withdrawal.

  5. I was a extremely high dependence (up to 140mg daily) along with a ice habit. I have for the past six months been clean from ice and I have sat with Valium maintenance of 10mg/p day for the past 3 months. I decided three days ago to go cold turkey now I am feeling like hammered cr*p. At a rate average of 10mg per day how long should I be expecting the detox period to last please?

    1. Hi, Kelly. Detoxing from Valium can take anywhere from 24 to 78 hours to several weeks, depending on how long you’ve been taking Valium, and at what dosing amount and frequency.

  6. my mother-in-law was dependent on Valium many years ago after it was prescribed while her husband was flying in Vietnam. She has not taken it for the last 20 years. Recently her husband passed away and her doctor has prescribe a short term course of Valium to help her cope now and through the funeral. Is this likely to trigger the old dependence?

    1. Hi Lynn. I am very sorry for your loss, and your mother must be devastated. However, her organism has long recovered from the Valium she was once taking. It’s good that it is only prescribed by her doctor for a short amount of time, because regardless of past use, dependence to Valium is quickly formed. Be cautious that she stops taking the medication within a week or two after the funeral. It’s important that she doesn’t turn to Valium use as a way to cope with her loss. Stay strong and god bless!

  7. I am in India and have been taking 40 mg Valium a day for 5 weeks with a few breaks of 2 days in between , I return home in 10 days , were it will not be available , will I be ok

    1. Hi Nick. You can expect to experience withdrawal symptoms. Can’t you get a hold on enough pills to take with you and use them to taper doses gradually, thus avoid adverse effects?

  8. HI. My doctor prescribed valium 5 mg, 1 or 2 times daily for severe muscle spasms. I have been taking them for about 5 weeks. Over that period have take 1 or 1 1/2 of them most days. sometimes only 1. A few days none and once 2 pills. I do not feel a craving for them and I would like to stop but I have heard you have to taper off. Is 5 weeks long enough to become dependent? Should I maybe go to 1 pill only cut in half for a week and then maybe just 1/2 a pill daily for a week or so. Or can I just stop? My prescribing doc doesn’t seem to know wjat would be a good tapering time plan. Thanks!

    1. Hi Rena. Although 5 weeks is enough time for your body to become accustomed to the presence of Valium, and you will feel some withdrawal symptoms, it shouldn’t be as severe as in longer-term users. Symptoms will probably subside within a few days and you can also use general over-the-counter aids to manage symptoms and make them more bearable. Good luck!

  9. Hi Glenn. I hope I give you all the information you need, 1. The actual time it takes to form a dependency on Valium to develop varies in different individuals. A person’s body chemistry, the dose of Valium he/she is taking and the condition it is prescribed for can all play a role in Valium dependence. NCBI gives a rough estimate of a period of six months or longer, for a person to face significant chances for Valium dependance.
    2. Have a look at these user revies for Escitalopram:
    3. Are you asking for a comparison of Valium’s or Escitalopram’s side effects to the side effects from Prozac?
    4. This is also different for every elderly person. Their methabolism is slow, they may have low peak concentrations and it may take longer for them to reach steady-state. It’s necessary to reduce doses because the elimination half-life increases with age.

  10. how many days does it take to become dependant on valium? how is the correct way to use it? how successful is the drug escitalopram for anxiety? and its side effects compared to Prozac? when elderly patients have to reduce the dose when they get to 65 because of heart safety does this mean they risk their symptoms coming back?

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