Last Updated on April 7, 2022 by
Last Updated on April 7, 2022 by
Valium withdrawal, and generally, withdrawals from all benzodiazepines can occur within one to four days after stopping. Dependence can develop after even short-term use; hence, the minimum dose and minimum duration of use are recommended. Stopping Valium© abruptly can greatly intensify withdrawal symptoms, especially after long-term use, and sometimes protracted Valium withdrawal symptoms may last for a very long time without proper treatment.9
*While there is no cookie-cutter timeline for all persons undergoing diazepam withdrawal, researchers Brett and Murnion advise at least 10 weeks for gradual benzodiazepine cessation.12
Benzodiazepines like Valium cannot be seen through the same lens as other drug withdrawals. The professionals managing the process should do so strategically and compassionately.
Valium is a sedative in the benzodiazepine class that is used in the short-term treatment of mild to moderate anxiety. Off-label uses 24 include insomnia, restless legs syndrome, and to prevent seizures during acute alcohol detox. Valium is also used off-label to relieve secondary injury-related muscle spasms, and for short-term treatment of spasticity in children with cerebral palsy.30 Valium is also used off-label as pre-surgical sedation. In addition to pill form, it can be delivered intravenously in liquid form.
Day to day stress or anxiety are not valid indications for a benzodiazepine prescription, according to the FDA Valium drug label, yet there is much evidence of such. In 2021 a study in the Cureus Journal was published outlining the continuing rise of the use and abuse of benzodiazepines. From 1996 to 2013 benzodiazepine use accelerated by 67%. This trend has continued since then, with another spike over the duration of the recent global pandemic. Benzodiazepine drugs have been the main course of treatment for the treatment of insomnia and anxiety during the pandemic, the authors of the study calling it an epidemic within a pandemic. Valium has been the main drug used during the pandemic to address these and other consequences attributed to the stress of lockdowns all around the world, including increases in domestic violence, psychological distress, and social isolation.32
There are also some newer versions, such as diazepam nasal spray and rectal gel.28 Like all benzodiazepines, Valium loses efficacy over time (tolerance) and should not be prescribed long-term. 3,13, 24,30
Summary of Valium FDA-approved uses3:
Valium Off-label Uses 33-35 can include:
*Valium is a Class IV drug, intended for short-term use only, at the minimum dose required as advised on the FDA-approved drug label. Research shows long-term benzodiazepine use can lead to neuronal damage.8
Diazepam is the generic name for the active drug in Valium. Other trade names exist, including Diastat Acudial©, Diastat©, and Diazepam Intensol©.
Valium has developed a significant street presence, possibly due to, at least in part, Valium’s cheap cost, fast, profound calming effects, and its near-immediate effects for easing withdrawals from other addictive drugs such as opiates. Of some great concern, fraudulent or counterfeit drugs may be sold as “street valium”, which can be poisonous or even lethal.6,7
Slang names for drugs are useful when people want to hide what they are actually talking about for social, legal, or other reasons. According to Johnson and Streltzer’s editorial in the Journal of the American Physician, many of the 4 million benzodiazepine users in the US are unprescribed users who have developed an addiction to these drugs. Some slang 9,13 or substitute names that refer to Valium sold illicitly are:
Valium’s side effects are thought to be a result of how it affects GABA activity in the CNS.9 Valium is used to treat anxiety and as a muscle-relaxant, sleep-aid, and can be used in various settings, for example, during alcohol withdrawal to prevent hallucinations, seizures, etc., or pre-surgery to relax the patient. Valium is a fast-acting tranquilizer that produces a calming sensation, slows the heartbeat and breathing, and allows the muscles to relax. Elderly patients typically have increased sensitivity to Valium and require minimal doses compared to younger patients.
Side effects are adverse or undesirable reactions to drugs. Valium is associated with a great many side effects. The number of Valium side effects numbers in the hundreds, documented by the APA National Center for Biotechnology Information.13 From the APA summary, and from the FDA drug label for Valium, we have grouped some of the most important ones to be aware of below for the sake of brevity.
Paradoxical Side Effects
These are not all the potential paradoxical side effects. If any symptoms arise that seem unusual or are of concern, contact your prescribing physician without delay to report the side effects. You can also report the side effects of any medication by calling 1 800 FDA-1088, a voluntary reporting hotline.
Cautions and Risks Associated With Benzodiazepines 3,9,10,13,19
Below are some of the most frequently asked questions about diazepam and benzodiazepines in general. The information provided includes the theorized mechanics of action, a description of overdose symptoms, and other relevant topics.
Benzodiazepines have been linked to thousands of overdose deaths, and yet remain one of the most commonly prescribed drugs in the country.
There are many reasons why a person would begin taking a benzodiazepine, just as there can be many symptoms that drugs are used to suppress.
At Alternative to Meds Center, this gives us two major areas of concern:
We specialize in both of these areas. It is not enough to simply help someone safely stop taking a drug on which they have become physically dependent. This is extremely important, to be sure, yet it is only part of the journey. A person may be left with ongoing original symptoms without further treatment.
The symptoms that one thought Valium would solve — but did not — can be addressed in holistic ways to attain sustainable, non-harmful therapeutic relief. Such holistic therapy does not create more chaos or contribute to further addiction but is administered to alleviate unwanted symptoms without drugs. The subject of holistic treatments offered at the Alternative to Meds requires more space than is available here, but a summary of therapies and methods used can be found on our benzodiazepine alternatives and services overview pages. We have been helping people with Valium withdrawal recovery for nearly 2 decades with great success. Please take the time to review our information, and discuss these alternative options of treatment with your prescribing physician. Or call us for direct information or for other questions you may have about insurance coverage or other topics of interest regarding inpatient treatment at our beautiful facility in Sedona Arizona.
You can find relief. We can help. Contact us for more information about our Valium withdrawal programs, founded on holistic principles, that can help in achieving sustainable and natural mental health.
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Originally Published Sep 13, 2018 by Diane Ridaeus
Dr. Michael Loes is board-certified in Internal Medicine, Pain Management and Addiction Medicine. He holds a dual license in Homeopathic and Integrative Medicine. He obtained his medical doctorate at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, 1978. Dr. Loes performed an externship at the National Institute of Health for Psychopharmacology. Additionally, he is a well-published author including Arthritis: The Doctor’s Cure, The Aspirin Alternative, The Healing Response, and Spirit Driven Health: The Psalmist’s Guide for Recovery. He has been awarded the Minnesota Medical Foundation’s “Excellence in Research” Award.
Diane is an avid supporter and researcher of natural mental health strategies. Diane received her medical writing and science communication certification through Stanford University and has published over 3 million words on the topics of holistic health, addiction, recovery, and alternative medicine. She has proudly worked with the Alternative to Meds Center since its inception and is grateful for the opportunity to help the founding members develop this world-class center that has helped so many thousands regain natural mental health.