Valium Addiction: Side Effects, Withdrawal, & Treatment

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Valium (diazepam) is a powerful prescription drug, specifically a benzodiazepine, with long-lasting effects. The sustained use of diazepam can easily lead to Valium addiction.

Addiction to Valium can progress rapidly if the drug is not used exactly as directed. Despite this, many people become addicted to this potent benzo without realizing a problem is developing.

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Taking diazepam for more than 4 to 6 weeks – even with an accompanying prescription and regardless of the Valium dosage – will heighten your risk of developing an addiction to benzos. 

What is Valium used for, then? 

What is Valium?

Valium is typically prescribed for the treatment of: 

  • Anxiety
  • Seizures
  • Muscle spasms
  • During alcohol withdrawal

As a long-acting benzodiazepine, Valium stays in the system for much longer than benzos like Halcion (a short-acting benzodiazepine). Ingested orally up to 4 times a day, taking Valium regularly will precipitate tolerance and dependence. 

How Long Does Valium Last?

Valium is detectable in the body for 90 days. 

It is typical to feel the effects of this long-acting benzo after a few minutes to one hour, depending on the method of administration. 

Valium has a 48-hour half-life. It takes from four to five half-lives for a substance to be removed entirely from the system. 

Is Valium Addictive

Taking diazepam for more than 4 to 6 weeks – even with an accompanying prescription – will heighten your risk of developing an addiction to benzos. 

Some textbook signs of Valium abuse include: 

  • Slurred speech
  • Appetite changes
  • Dilated pupils
  • Impaired coordination
  • Uncharacteristic sadness
  • Irritability
  • Shaking (during Valium withdrawal)
  • Withdrawing from social obligations
  • Disengagement from favored activities
  • Legal ramifications related to Valium abuse
  • Stealing or borrowing money
  • Secretiveness
  • New social network

The symptoms of Valium addiction are clearly delineated in DSM-5-TR, APA’s benchmark diagnostic tool. Addiction is a non-clinical descriptor for substance use disorder. Substance use disorder applies to all disorders related to drugs, although there are also several sub-categories. Addiction to Valium is clinically known as sedative use disorder. 

To be diagnosed with substance use disorder, at least two of the eleven symptoms outlined in DSM-5 must present within a year. Substance abuse disorder and Valium addiction, then, involve more than just episodic drug abuse. 

According to the number of the following symptoms present, diagnosis of substance use disorder can be mild, moderate, or severe. 

  1. Spending large chunks of time obtaining, using, and recovering from Valium.
  2. Repeatedly using Valium in dangerous situations – driving under the influence of benzos, for example.
  3. Reducing social commitments in favor of Valium use.
  4. Failing to meet commitments and obligations due to abuse of Valium.
  5. Experiencing strong cravings for Valium.
  6. Using Valium even though it is causing or inflaming health conditions.
  7. Taking more Valium than intended or using Valium more often than planned.
  8. Trying and failing to moderate or discontinue use of Valium.
  9. Developing a tolerance for benzodiazepines.
  10. Encountering withdrawal symptoms when the effects of Valium wear off.
  11. Continuing to use Valium despite these negative outcomes.
An image of a man going through valium addiction side effects

Common Side Effects

Most research into the side effects triggered by Valium concerns lawfully prescribed use, but the same effects manifest when Valium is misused or abused. Valium side effects include: 

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Slowed breathing
  • Weakness
  • Blurred vision
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Confusion
  • Skin rash
  • Seizures

If you use Valium long-term, you also run the risk of developing a co-occurring disorder. As an example, Valium is routinely used to treat the symptoms of anxiety. Over time, your brain starts to rely on the substance to regulate stress levels. In the absence of the drug, this imbalance in the brain can trigger anxiety or depressive disorders not previously existent. 

Long-term Valium abuse can cause damage to areas of the brain responsible for cognition and memory. 

Valium Withdrawal 

It is never advisable to suddenly stop using Valium without medical liaison. When Valium withdrawal unfolds, adverse withdrawal symptoms can include coma, seizures, and death. 

A professionally-managed tapered reduction can help mitigate many of the uncomfortable symptoms of withdrawal, while almost minimizing complications. 

The most common Valium withdrawal symptoms are: 

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Shakiness

The duration of detox and withdrawal from benzos like Valium will differ from person to person. Generally, the more Valium you take, the longer it will require to feel normal without the substance in your system. 

In addition to medications to mitigate withdrawal symptoms and cravings, psychotherapy like CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) can be effective for treating Valium addiction. A therapist will help you identify what triggers you to use Valium, and they will guide you to create superior healthy coping strategies rather than reaching for a pack of benzos. 

Peer-support groups can also help many people grappling with a disorder like sedative use disorder after a prolonged period of Valium abuse. 

Treatment for Valium Addiction

If you decide the time is right to engage with treatment for Valium addiction, severe sedative use disorders usually respond most favorable to inpatient treatment. 

Research indicates that intensive outpatient treatment is equally effective for most mild and moderate addictions, though. 

Regardless of the level of treatment intensity that makes the best fit, you should find that a tapered reduction combined with medication-assisted treatment, psychotherapy, and counseling helps you leave Valium behind for good. 

view from california detox 30 day inpatient rehab

Get Help at California Detox

If you are addicted to Valium or any other benzodiazepine, we can help you kickstart your recovery at California Detox

Choose from the following treatment programs: 

  • Inpatient programs (residential rehab)
  • PHPs (partial hospitalization programs)
  • IOPs (intensive outpatient programs)
  • Virtual IOPs (remote rehab)
  • OPs (outpatient programs)
  • Dual diagnosis (addictions with co-occurring mental health disorders)

Before you engage with treatment for Valium addiction, we can help you withdraw as comfortably and safely as possible at our licensed medical detox center in Orange County. 

Whatever level of treatment is most suitable for your circumstances and your addiction, you will access to these therapies at California Detox: 

  • Medication-assisted treatment
  • Psychotherapy (CBT and DBT)
  • Individual counseling
  • Group therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Holistic therapy

When you’re ready to move from Valium addiction into detox and recovery, call admissions at 949.390.5377 for immediate assistance.


Valium uses include the management of: Anxiety disorders. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Insomnia. Muscle spasms. Restless legs syndrome. Acute seizures.
Valium works by intensifying the effects of certain neurotransmitters (chemical messengers in the brain). The medication calms you and induces a sense of relaxation.


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