How Long Does Valium Stay in Your System?

How Long Does Valium Stay in Your System?, Drug Tests, Overdose & Withdrawal Treatment

What is Valium?

Valium, also known as diazepam, is a prescription drug used for anxiety treatment, muscle spasms, alcohol withdrawal, and as a sedative before surgery or to treat seizures. As a benzodiazepine medication, Valium suppresses excitability in the nervous system. It accomplishes this goal by affecting a brain chemical called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which binds to GABA receptors and regulates excitement [1]. 

Unfortunately, long-term use of Valium for anxiety, even with a prescription from a doctor, can lead to physical dependence on the drug and uncomfortable and potentially fatal Valium withdrawals when someone decides to quit using. This drug can lead to Valium addiction, especially when higher dosages are used. Moreover, mixing Valium and alcohol is dangerous because they can pose severe risks to the body. Someone with a history of alcoholism may be at risk of addiction to this drug.

How Long Does Valium Stay in Your System
How Long Does Valium Stay in Your System? The period of time Valium stays in the system can vary based on individual factors. Know more about Valium and its effects

It comes in 2 mg, 5 mg, or 10 mg oral tablets. The drug was first approved for use in the early 60s, is a central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) depressant with a half-life of nearly 48 hours. This means it takes a healthy adult about two days to process half a dose of Valium to half its concentration. As a result, a person can accumulate the drug in their system. Valium suppresses excitability in the nervous system so that users can get to sleep or stay asleep or go about their daily activities with less tension and stress. It can also be taken as a muscle relaxant.

How Long Does Valium Stay in Your System?

Valium (diazepam) is classified as a Schedule IV controlled substance under the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) [2]. The restrictions placed on this drug make it more difficult to obtain a prescription and restrict the number of prescriptions that doctors can give out. However, recreational use of Valium continues. It’s typically dispensed in pill form, but can be crushed to be snorted or melted into a solution for injection. When injected, Valium’s effects take as little as a minute to appear and last for about an hour.

Valium has a relatively long half-life. Active metabolites may remain in the body for as long as 20-100 hours after use. Many benzodiazepines have a half-life of several hours, up to one day; although this means that withdrawal takes less time, it also means that the onset of withdrawal may begin sooner. Valium’s long half-life means it is often used as part of the tapering process from other benzodiazepines, like Xanax.

How Long Does it Take to Feel Effects?

How long the effects of Valium last depend on the dose, administration route, frequency of use, and individual biological factors. When taken orally, more than 90% of Valium is absorbed and the average time to achieve peak concentrations within the body is 1 to 1.5 hours. Therapeutic doses of Valium result in immediate effects within 30 minutes, while significant effects can last for 12 to 24 hours. Higher doses or injected Valium can result in effects within just a few minutes that last several days.

Valium Half-Life

Valium’s half-life indicates how long it takes for 50% of a drug dose to be removed from the system. The average Valium half-life is approximately 43 hours, meaning that about 50% of the drug will be cleared from the body after about 43 hours. Thus, it may take up to 10 days to eliminate Valium from the body. Valium is broken down into several metabolites. One such metabolite, nordiazepam, has a much longer half-life and can thus be detected for a longer period. The average half-life of nordiazepam is 40 to 99 hours, indicating that it can take over 20 days to eliminate Valium byproducts from the body.

Valium in Your Blood, Urine, Hair, & Saliva

Valium and its metabolites can stay long in your body. However, some tests can only detect these compounds after a certain period. The most common test samples used to trace these compounds are the following:

Saliva

After a person takes diazepam, a saliva test can immediately detect the presence of this compound in the saliva. Depending on the dose and how often the drug was taken, it will last for about 1 to 10 days in the saliva after the last intake.

Urine

Because excretion or elimination is the final step in the body’s drug processing, the urine test will not immediately detect the presence of diazepam. However, the drug and its metabolites will be traceable in a urine sample for a longer period compared to the saliva. Typically, the urine test can detect the presence of these compounds for about 1 to 6 weeks after your last intake.

How Long Does Valium Stay in Your System
How Long Does Valium Stay in Your System? Weaning off of Valium can be difficult, and it is best to undergo this portion of treatment under medical supervision.

Blood

The body is able to distribute various substances throughout the body because of the bloodstream. As such, Valium will only stay in the blood for a short duration. Typically, a blood test can trace diazepam for about 6 to 48 hours after the last intake.

Hair

Diazepam and its metabolites can stay permanently in the hair strand, unlike other body fluids. Because of the standard processing regulations, the technician will only test 1.5 inches of a person’s hair strand. Thus, a hair test will only trace the presence of Valium and its metabolites for up to 3 months after the last ingestion.

Factors Influencing How Long Valium Stays in the System

Various factors can influence the length of time it takes for Valium to stay in the body, which includes the following:

Liver Function

Before one can eliminate Valium out of their body, the drug must be broken down first. The liver is the primary body organ responsible for breaking down diazepam. For this reason, a person’s liver function can greatly affect the length of time the drug will stay in the body.

Various factors can affect the performance of the liver. Certain medical conditions can damage this organ resulting in a longer metabolism process. An example of this is liver cirrhosis. For people with this medical condition, diazepam will stay in their body 5 times longer compared to healthy individuals.

Age

As a person grows older, their body’s performance starts to decline, mostly because of the natural wear and tear of the body. The elderly, or those aging 65 years old and above will be able to excrete Valium out of their body two times longer than people under the age of 20.

Body Fat

A person’s body fat percentage can also affect the length of time for the body to excrete Valium. Typically, the half-life of diazepam is around 30 to 56 hours, meaning it will take that much time to break down and excrete half of the amount of the drug. According to research, the half-life of Valium is two times longer in people with a high body fat percentage.

Metabolism

The metabolic rate of a person can also influence the length of time that Valium stays in their body. The drug will stay longer in their system for people with a slow metabolism.

Dose and Frequency of Use

Upon intake, diazepam will undergo various processes before elimination. If you took a higher dose, it will take the body longer to processes the drug. However, if you are taking multiple doses of Valium for a long period, there will be a build-up of the drug’s metabolites in your body. Thus, the drug will stay longer in your system compared to those who took a single dose.

Valium Overdose

A Valium overdose can be fatal. Signs and symptoms of overdose warrant immediate medical assistance through a call to 911 or rapid access to a hospital emergency room. Overall, overdose symptoms reflect central nervous system impairments caused by the depressant and sedative effects of Valium.

Symptoms and Signs of Valium Overdose

The chief characteristics of a critical benzodiazepine overdose are depressed respiration and cardiac functioning, typically related to a lack of oxygen and poor circulation.

Symptoms can include:

  • Agitation
  • Excitability
  • Anxiety
  • Panic
  • Itching
  • Gastrointestinal (GI) distress
  • Hiccups
  • Snoring
  • Gurgling
  • Weakness
  • Labored, slowed or stopped breathing
  • Drowsiness
  • Slurred speech
  • Dizziness
  • Vision problems
  • Low blood pressure
  • Low pulse rate
  • Tremors
  • Lowered mental capacities
  • Hallucinations
  • Lack of coordination
  • Confusion
  • Lack of alertness
  • Bluing lips

Causes of Valium Overdose

Polydrug use is the number one cause of all overdose fatalities. Polydrug use greatly complicates the effects of Valium and contributes significantly to an overdose involving Valium

Polydrug use can cause:

  • Unconsciousness
  • Coma
  • Stupor
  • Brain and organ damage
  • Death

When combined with Valium, all sedating drugs such as alcohol, opioids, and other benzodiazepines can produce severe and prolonged respiratory distress and heart problems.

There are also other prescription drugs, illegal drugs, over-the-counter medications, and herbal supplements that cause an overdose when used with Valium.

Valium Withdrawal Symptoms

If you have been using Valium for an extended period of time, you’re likely to experience some withdrawal symptoms when you stop or reduce your use. And these symptoms can be severe enough that inpatient medical detox is the safest course of treatment.

Valium withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Sweating
  • Muscle spasm
  • Tremors
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Vomiting
  • Sensory hypersensitivity
  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Rebound anxiety
  • Delirium
  • Seizures

The severity and duration of Valium withdrawal depend on the length of use, upon the dose, how abruptly the drug is stopped, and personal factors like your health.

Unmanaged Valium withdrawals can be life-threatening. In some cases, users can develop seizures and delirium tremens (DTs), a condition commonly associated with alcohol withdrawal that involves shaking, severe confusion, and hallucinations.

Abruptly quitting Valium, rather than slowly tapering from the drug, increases the likelihood of severe Valium withdrawals and certain withdrawal complications. There is no way to predict which of these symptoms you may experience when you stop suddenly. You may experience some or all of them, and because some are fatal, you should not try to stop cold turkey on your own.

Valium Withdrawal Timeline

The onset of Valium withdrawal symptoms begins a few hours after the last dose of Valium has worn off. Symptoms will continue to intensify and last for several hours later. In fact, while acute symptoms of Valium withdrawal usually subside after the first few days of detox, more persistent symptoms of Valium withdrawal can last several weeks afterward. Furthermore, “rebound symptoms” can occur, which may manifest in high levels of anxiety. However, these symptoms should begin to decline about 6-8 weeks after quitting Valium.

24 – 72 hours Valium withdrawal: Withdrawal from Valium mimics that of alcohol. Your body will experience tremors, sweating, and agitation. An intense resurgence of anxiety or symptoms which were once taken care of by using Valium can also be present.

Week 1 Valium withdrawal: There should be a lessening of withdrawal symptoms from diazepam after the first week of Valium withdrawal. Physical symptoms will be evening out. However, you will likely still experience sleep disturbances and mild aches and pain.

Week 2 Valium withdrawal: During this time, acute withdrawal symptoms tend to resurface with the same original intensity.

Week 3-4 Valium withdrawal: Symptoms of Valium withdrawal again tend to dip before possibly resurfacing. This week should be even better than week one, as the further away you are from that last does, the more you can feel your body returning to normal. However, insomnia and anxiety may still be a problem you will have to deal with.

Detox Treatment for Valium Addiction

Valium detox is the process of getting professional medical treatment for Valium addiction in an environment that is safe and controlled. The actual detox process involves allowing the body time for all of the toxins to be fully removed so that there are no longer strong physical withdrawal symptoms.

The answer to “How long does Valium stay in your system?” lies in the drugs detection period. Knowing the answer can help you better understand how it can impact your health. Without professional help, specifically medical treatment, Detoxing can be dangerous and is not recommended. If someone is addicted to Valium because of its intense and often dangerous Valium withdrawal symptoms, they should consider inpatient detox. If you or a loved one is struggling with Valium addiction, We Level Up NJ addiction specialists are standing by to help.

How Long Does Valium Stay in Your System
How Long Does Valium Stay in Your System? Detox treatment is designed to directly counteract the chronic or persistent side effects of withdrawal symptoms. 

Sources:

[1] NCBI – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK537022

[2] FDA – https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2008/013263s083lbl.pdf