What is Valium withdrawal?

Valium withdrawal is a set of symptoms you experience when you cut back on Valium dosage or quit taking Valium totally. More here on what Valium withdrawal is like and what helps relieve Valium withdrawal symptoms here.

4
minute read

Are you planning to go through Valium withdrawal?

Valium tolerance: how long?  The body starts to become tolerant to the effects of Valium within 3-4 weeks of taking Valium regularly.  But do you know what happens when you stop taking Valium?

For a more successful outcome during detox, be sure you know what are symptoms of Valium withdrawal.   Here, we review what happens in the body when you withdraw from Valium and why.  Plus, how Valium withdrawal feels and what can help ease symptoms. And then we invite your questions about withdrawing from Valium at the end.

What is Valium withdrawal syndrome?

Valium (diazepam) is a drug in the benzodiazepine class of medicines. Valium has a depressant effect on the nervous system and while it calms the body down, it interacts with the brain chemistry much like alcohol. Because of this, over time the body starts to craves Valium in order to regulate levels of diazepam in the system. When a body which has developed high tolerance to Valium or physical dependence on Valium DOES NOT get regular doses of Valium, symptoms of withdrawal from the body system occur.

Once you have abruptly stopped using Valium, the body will experience a period of withdrawal. Withdrawal happens because the brain is trying to compensate for the depressant effect Valium has on the brain. Because Valium slows brain activity, once you stop taking Valium, the brain rebounds sometimes resulting in seizures. This feeling of the body speeding up is uncomfortable and people who try to avoid it by taking more Valium can develop an additional psychological dependence on Valium.

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What is withdrawal from Valium like?

Withdrawing from Valium can be really uncomfortable as the body is no longer relaxed and is instead in a frenetic state of activity. Basically, the body goes from a state of sedation into over activity. There can be several symptoms that might occur after ceasing to use Valium. The more common symptoms of Valium withdrawal can include:

  • feelings of apprehension and fearfulness
  • a harder time going to sleep or staying asleep (insomnia)
  • increased feelings of excitement and restlessness
  • increased levels of anxiety
  • Sometimes the body will react violently with tremors and sometimes seizures. More severe symptoms that occur while withdrawing from Valium have included:
  • abdominal cramps
  • confusion
  • delirium
  • hallucinations
  • increased blood pressure
  • panic attacks
  • paranoid psychosis
  • seizures
  • tremors
  • vomiting

What does Valium withdrawal feel like?

Valium withdrawal can feel like the demands of life have increased at a fast rate. Increased restlessness and insomnia will probably occur, as well as tremors and increased sensitivity to light and sound. There are also increased feelings of depression as a result of Valium withdrawal which makes weaning off the drug harder. Onset of these symptoms starts about four to five days after you stop taking Valium. And these acute symptoms which result from stopping Valium can last up to 6 weeks after you cease using Valium, making withdrawal feel long and tiring.

What helps Valium withdrawal?

It is important that you are monitored by a physician during Valium withdrawal so that a medical professional can slowly decrease Valium doses and taper to minimize the effects of withdrawal symptoms. It is not advised that you stop taking Valium cold turkey as the symptoms can be severe and life threatening, especially when mixing diazepam with other substances. Three possible treatments for Valium withdrawal include: tapering, medications, and home remedies.

1. Home remedies for Valium withdrawal – Home remedies to help deal with symptoms of withdrawal during Valium detox aim to treat specific symptoms. For symptoms of restlessness, some people recommend supplements of Potassium and Zinc. For symptoms of muscle aches and cramps, others recommend:

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  • amino acids
  • exercise
  • hot baths and showers
  • Imodium to help with the runs
  • keeping busy
  • massages
  • Vitamin B6

2. Medications – Sometimes doctors will prescribe antidepressants to help with depressive episodes that occur during Valium withdrawal but there should be care in how these methods are used. Otherwise, over-the-counter drugs can help compensate for pain and discomfort but are recommended only in controlled quantities.

3. Tapering – The best way to detox from Valium is to use a tapering method. It can take several weeks to wean a person off of Valium. During this process, a psychological need for the drug might emerge. For this reason, it is important to talk to someone and make sure you have supports available to you. It is helpful while in the detox phase you have a place that is quiet and darker as to help with sensitivity to light and sound.

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In general, the recommended procedure for tapering off Valium is to first reduce Valium intake in weekly increments until the presence of withdrawal symptoms emerge. After this, the rate of reduction should decease slowly to allocate for withdrawal symptoms. Once the symptoms have waned, further reductions should be made until the last few milligrams of the drug have been administered.

Questions about Valium withdrawal

Do you still have questions about Valium Withdrawal? Please share your questions and experiences with Valium in the comments section below. And we’ll try to respond to your Valium questions personally ASAP.

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Reference Sources: NHTSA: Diazepam
DailyMed: Diazepam drug info
PubMed: Diazepam withdrawal syndrome: its prolonged and changing nature
PubMed: Clinical management of benzodiazepine dependence
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 weaned off valium and noticed that i have developed what appeared to be symptoms of “die-off”. I went bak on the valium because I could not take these symptoms. My symptoms vanished, is histamine reaction part of this process and what can i do to stop being symptomatic. I do not know what type of dr. to see. i have been to many and to no avail…help

    1. Hi Angela. It seems to me that you need a slower tapering schedule to quit Valium. I suggest that you speak with your doctor to help you plan an individualized tapering schedule. Also, speak with a pharmacist to recommend some over-the-counter medications, home remedies and teas to ease withdrawal symptoms.

  2. Hi I have been detoxing for 4 week now and I still feel horrible all my lymph glands have swelled up and today they are mostly down but the nodes in my neck are still very swollen I want to know how much longer this will be going on I am so exsauted and was wondering if I am about done? The glands in my arms swelled and they have gone down also I was wondering if I am still in danger of having a seizure or since its been 4 week am I safe please write and let me know this was the nastiest withdrawal I have ever been through I even thought of suicide and I have never thought of this before the pain was so bad I didn’t want to go on but now it’s passing please tell me I am almost done I have been on clonipin for 15 yrs and had to get off I weened my self but not well I did 1 a day for a week then 1/2 for a week then a 1/4 for a week then stopped but I guess that wasn’t right cause I got very I’ll 5 days later but that was a night mare and now feel better daily but am still light headed will this go away soon

  3. I got the help of Pain and Stress Center in TX. Take a tsp of glutamine 2x a day. That fills the GABA receptors. It’s doesn’t stop the pain, though. You can have protacted withdrawal symptoms years later. Dr. Sahley uses amino acids to help.

  4. I’v come down from 80mg valium per day @ 2.5mg increments per week (substituted from 4-6mg xanax a day) The detox was uncomfortable but manageable but since I finished a week ago the the withdrawals have become much worse, my anxiety and derealisation/depersonalisation in particular. Is this common? and what can be done to make it more comfortable.

  5. Hello Bill. It’s difficult to predict, but you can consult a pharmacist for more info on probability. Sounds like you’re doing it right; long, slow taper is the way to go. Best to you!

  6. Did xanax switch to valium. Started at 6 mg valium 2 mg 3 times a day, total. After 6 weeks weeks I am at 1.5mg total, left to taper. Except for a few manageable sleeping problems it has gone smoothly. I expect to finish the 1.5 mg remainder in the next 10-14 days. With the completed withdrawal, do I have a chance to have minimal or no withdrawal symptoms?

  7. Hi Pikey. Good discipline there, you are certainly doing it right. Keep eating healthy and exercising, stay hydrated, relax, and rest well.

  8. I have been taking 10mg diazepam for 10 plus years and sometimes only as needed not everyday. Definitely never abused them. I have just started tapering and am taking 5mg for a week then going to 2.5 for a week the .05 for a week and quit. I exercise regularly and am taking a multivitamin and also drink a protein shake every morning with whey protein. Do you think I am on the right track?

  9. took 1/2 mg of ativan for one month. then increased to 1 mg for month of june and half of july. am in the process of crossing over, and will hold probably 4 to 5 weeks. suggestions on reducing 10mg of valium

  10. Hello,
    I just read your advice in valium withdrawal. With regards to the amino acids- which ones should I take? Are there any other supplements apart from B6, zinc and potassium( which I get from eating bananas and coconut water) such as calcium/ magnesium. I heard of a product called calm away which contains these 2. Finally, my back pain is really bad, is there anything I can do for that. I appreciate any feedback in these questions. Thank you. Jenn

  11. Hi George. To be honest, I don’t know. Check with your prescribing doctor about the taper plan and consult with a local pharmacist. I’d be interested to know the answer, too.

  12. Hello,
    I have been on Valium (Diazepam) 5 mg daily since I was in high school for anxiety, stress and panic attacks. Also in helping a rapid heart rate, in addition to blood pressure medication (including beta blockers).
    My physician after 40+ years wants me to discontinue the drug. I have not tried to stop my daily dose at this point, but is it even possible that at such a low dosage of 5 mg/day I would have withdrawal symptoms? And with such a low dosage, how does one ‘cut down’ on the rate to wean off of it?
    Thanks.

  13. Hi Chris. Please check with your prescribing doctor for a tapering regimen. Each case is individual and your doctor will know your needs better than a standard protocol.

  14. Hi, I have been taking valium for 3-4 weeks and have tried some days to do with out and then other days taking 20mg. I find that at only three weeks I having bad withdrawals/panic attacks. Whats the best way to taper after only a short spell on them as I feel addicted already. Can you help with a tapering programme, I am desperate and scared.
    Thank you
    Chris

  15. Hi Diane. In general, tapering Valium doses can help manage symptoms of withdrawal. Sometimes switching to another benzodiazepine is therapeutic. Another strategy is to switch the patient to another benzodiazepine with a long half-life. Frequently chlorodiazepoxide and clonazepam are recommended

    Check out this full article to read more about the protocol for withdrawal from benzodiazepines like Valium.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1711840/

  16. My sister has taken Valium for 17 years and wants to withdraw. A hospital she has contacted withdraws cold turkey utilizing the ER if necessary. Is this a common procedure?

  17. Sounds similar to Xanax withdrawl. My spouse was in the hospital same symptoms; increased blood pressure, mild seizure, depression, panic etc…. They gave him Adivan 2ml interveneously every few hours. They also gave him potassium because of depletion. It was a scary sight.

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