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Diazepam Detox Guide: Withdrawal Symptoms and Timeline

Diazepam (Valium) is a prescription medicine used to treat anxiety, seizure disorders, muscle spasms, and symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.1,2 Valium and other benzodiazepines are central nervous system (CNS) depressants, meaning they reduce overall brain activity.1,2 Diazepam misuse or abuse can trigger pronounced calming and euphoric effects. People can misuse and abuse diazepam in several ways, such as:

  • Taking it without a prescription.
  • Taking it in larger doses or more often than prescribed.
  • Combining it with other substances, such as alcohol or opioids.
  • Dissolving it in fluid and injecting it.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) classifies diazepam as a Schedule IV controlled substance, which means that it has potential for abuse, dependence, and addiction.Dependence happens when the body gets used to the presence of diazepam so that if you greatly reduce your dose or stop taking it, you have withdrawal symptoms.1,5 Diazepam addiction, which is typically accompanied by dependence, is marked by compulsive Valium abuse despite the harm it causes.5

Once you have developed a diazepam addiction, it can be difficult and dangerous to quit on your own due to life-threatening withdrawal symptoms and strong cravings.Attending a diazepam detox center can help manage the withdrawal symptoms, prevent complications, and prepare you to transition into a comprehensive addiction treatment facility.

Diazepam Withdrawal Symptoms and Timeline

Diazepam withdrawal symptoms generally appear a few days to 1 week after your last dose.Diazepam withdrawal symptoms tend to peak (be at their worst) after the second week, and slowly get better over 3 to 4 weeks.5 Diazepam withdrawal symptoms can include:3,5

Woman sitting outside on steps thinking about diazepam detox

  • Anxiety.
  • Restlessness.
  • Increased blood pressure and heart rate.
  • Increased sweating.
  • Nausea (feeling sick to your stomach) or vomiting.
  • Hallucinations (seeing, hearing, or feeling things that aren’t there).
  • Tremors (shakiness).
  • Grand mal seizures.

About 20 to 30% of people who withdraw from diazepam or other sedatives without detox treatment experience a grand mal seizure, which can be fatal.5 Because of this and the risk of other dangerous withdrawal symptoms, you should talk to your doctor before trying to quit diazepam on your own.7

How to Safely Stop Taking Diazepam

Professional medical detox is a safe way to clear your system of diazepam and any other substances.6,7 At an inpatient setting, medical and mental health staff are on hand around the clock to watch your progress, identify and treat any possible physical or mental health issues, and intervene if you have any medical complications.6,7 The goal of a diazepam detox center is to help patients withdraw from Valium safely and prepare them to enter substance abuse treatment to better promote lasting recovery.

During detox, your care team will slowly taper you off of Valium to ensure your safety.7 Tapering is when you take smaller and smaller doses of medicine over time before you stop for good. Your care team may also switch you to a different, lower-risk benzodiazepine such as chlordiazepoxide (Librium) or clonazepam (Klonopin).7

Finding Diazepam Detox Treatment

Professional detox centers offer a safe and structured environment for you to withdraw from diazepam. American Addiction Centers is a leading provider of medical detox and addiction treatment. If you’re ready to stop using and gain control of your life, we’re here to help. Call today. Or fill out the form below to check your insurance online.


  1. Mayo Clinic. (2017). Diazepam (oral route).
  2. Drug Enforcement Administration. (2015). Drugs of abuse.
  3. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (n.d.). Diazepam.
  4. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2017). Commonly abused drugs charts.
  5. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th edition). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.
  6. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2012). Principles of drug addiction treatment: A research based guide (3rd edition).
  7. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2006). Tip 45: Detoxification and substance abuse treatment.
  8. U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2016). Diazepam.