Valium (generic name diazepam) is a common type of powerful sedative known as a benzodiazepine. Prescriptions for benzodiazepines have increased significantly in the past 20 years, and so have overdoses caused by these prescription medications.
Benzodiazepine-related overdoses increased sevenfold between 1999 and 2015, from 1,135 deaths to 8,791 deaths. Although Valium may be helpful in the short term for anxiety-related problems, addiction is common. Once addicted, Valium withdrawal can be difficult and even deadly.
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What Are the Valium Withdrawal Symptoms?
Benzodiazepines, or “benzos,” such as Valium are tranquilizers. They are often prescribed for conditions such as anxiety, insomnia, alcohol withdrawal, and seizures. Benzodiazepines may also be used as an anesthetic before surgery.
Valium has powerful relaxation effects. Because of this, it can become addictive. When an individual builds up a tolerance for Valium or becomes addicted to and then stops taking it suddenly, the person may experience withdrawal symptoms. Valium withdrawal can be uncomfortable, difficult, and potentially lethal.
Valium withdrawal symptoms may include:
- Stomach cramps or pain
- Muscle cramps or pain
- Anxiety and irritability
What Are the Stages of the Valium Withdrawal Timeline?
The stages of Valium withdrawal symptoms fall roughly into three groups. Some symptoms are constant throughout the withdrawal process. These symptoms are:
- Reduced appetite
- Muscle spasms (myoclonus)
The second group of symptoms usually begin within the first 10 days of last using the drug. These symptoms may include:
- Cognitive disturbances
- High blood pressure
- Irregular heartbeat
The third group of symptoms occurs within the third and fourth weeks of diazepam withdrawal. These symptoms include:
- Sensation of “pins and needles”
- Light and sound sensitivity
- Abdominal pain
Why Should I Detox?
Valium detoxification can cause agitation, seizures, and delirium tremens (DTs). Due to the severity of symptoms that Valium detox can cause, it is highly dangerous to withdraw on your own or go “cold turkey.” Because of this, it’s much safer to participate in a medical detox process as part of an addiction treatment program. A professional addiction treatment program ensures you a better opportunity for a lasting recovery because of the structured medical and emotional support provided.
What Is the Next Treatment Step?
Treatment for Valium addiction is available in different formats. Generally, however, treatment is offered on what’s known as a full continuum, which is the most comprehensive approach. A full continuum of treatment begins with the highest and most intense level of care during the detox phase. It then progresses through less intense levels of treatment. Participating in a full continuum of treatment will position you better to have a more successful recovery. The stages of treatment include detox/inpatient, partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient, and alumni or aftercare.
Your goal during the first stage of withdrawal treatment is medical stabilization. First, you will receive a complete medical assessment to determine your level of addiction plus any additional medical needs you may have. The assessment will include a medical exam and urine or blood tests to screen for drugs.
Your doctor may also require additional testing, including more blood tests, including a CBC (complete blood count), chest X-ray, ECG (electrocardiogram), and testing for other diseases.
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After the doctor reviews your test results, he or she will create a detox plan for you. Then you will begin the detox process under the care of your medical team, which will include doctors, nurses, and support staff.
Other drugs may be included in your medical treatment to help manage the physical symptoms of Valium withdrawal.
Because many people also experience anxiety, depression, and other emotional and psychological challenges as they detox, you will also receive emotional support as you begin addiction therapy.
The next stage after completing the detox phase of treatment is to continue treatment in a partial hospitalization program (PHP). You’ll live at a transitional living facility during this phase while you undergo a supportive and structured treatment program. Treatment sessions are held five days a week for six hours each day. These include individual, group, and family therapy programs to address your emotional and mental health needs.
During partial hospitalization, your main goal will be to learn positive life skills, coping mechanisms, and techniques to help prevent relapse. These skills will help you be better prepared for long-term recovery. They also will help you begin the process of transitioning back to your life outside the treatment center.
The full continuum of treatment is designed to help you slowly move back to life outside the rehab facility while helping you to build the skills and resources you need to cope and avoid relapsing. Once you have completed the inpatient program, you will begin the intensive outpatient program (IOP) stage.
This stage is sometimes used as a stand-alone addiction therapy. But it is also a key part of the full continuum of treatment. Your therapy sessions at this stage won’t be as frequent, and the program will be more flexible. Intensive therapy sessions will still be part of the program, and you will continue with medication management if needed.
You continue to be accountable for your recovery at this stage, plus it will also include periodic weekly drug testing. During an IOP, the primary focus is to help you continue to build coping skills and prevent relapse.
You will have the opportunity to join other treatment center alumni during weekly support groups and social events after you have completed the treatment program. These opportunities to meet other treatment program graduates can help you develop new friendships with others who understand the recovery process. Building this support network can be a key resource to help you grow and stay focused on your recovery as you continue to adjust to life after the treatment program.
Start Your Journey to Recovery Today
You don’t have to struggle with valium withdrawal alone. The admissions specialists at Pathway to Hope are available for free and confidential help. They can provide the guidance and support you need to start your recovery by explaining the process and answering any questions you may have.
After you speak with a specialist, you will know what to expect from our evidence-based services and feel confident to make an informed decision about your treatment plans.
Our specialists can also check with your private health insurance to see if your treatment costs will be fully covered. Call us today at (844) 311-5781 and let us help you get started on your journey to recovery.
Mellor, C.S. and Jain, V.K. (1982, December 1) Diazepam Withdrawal Syndrome: Its Prolonged and Changing Nature. Retrieved from from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
Thompson, Dennis (2018, December 27) Evidence Shows Abuse of Xanax, Valium on the Rise. Retrieved from from https://www.webmd.com/
(2017, March 30) Diazepam, Oral Tablet. Retrieved from from https://www.healthline.com/