Diazepam, which is sold under the brand name “Valium” is an anti-anxiety drug within the benzodiazepine class. It is prescribed to treat panic disorders, anxiety and insomnia, and is one of the most commonly prescribed prescription drugs in the world. It is also one of the most commonly abused, due to the fact that Valium is highly addictive, with diazepam addiction as big of a problem as opiate addictions in many countries.
Is Valium Addictive?
Diazepam is very addictive and diazepam dependence is a very serious matter. Addiction to this drug will not only present the user with potentially serious health concerns further down the line, but if they ever do decide to stop the drug then they will need to do so under strict supervision and with great care, avoiding the potential pitfalls of diazepam withdrawal (as discussed on our Valium Treatment and Withdrawals page).
Dangers of Valium Addiction
Repeated use of Valium can lead to dependence, at which point the user will develop a tolerance (where they need more of the drug to feel the therapeutic effects) and trigger withdrawal symptoms if they decide to stop using.
A Valium addict may withdraw from their friends and family. Their career and their relationships may suffer and their health may follow suit, with everything from increased fatigue (from constant sedation) to prolonged constipation (from a slowing of the digestive tract and a sedentary lifestyle) making them physically unwell.
Valium withdrawal is also said to be one of the worst substance withdrawals anyone can go through, likened to alcohol withdrawal in terms of severity and increased risk of complications.
How Long Does it Take to Get Addicted to Diazepam?
There is no agreed-upon timeframe for diazepam addiction to develop. It may vary from user to user and could be based on everything from genetics to previous experience with recreational drugs, as well as the dose being used and the amount of times it is being taken over the course of a day.
Typically, diazepam addiction will not develop within a couple of weeks and if it does, the withdrawals will not be severe enough to warrant concern. This is why Valium is often prescribed for 2 to 3 weeks at a time. Any longer than this and the patient runs the risk of becoming addicted to diazepam, while the general consensus says that continued use of the drug over a period of several months will almost certainly result in addiction.
Signs of Valium Addiction
If you are worried that a friend or family member is addicted to Valium then you should watch for the following signs:
- Constantly Sedated
- Sleeping a Lot
- Constipated or Otherwise Struggling with Bowel Movements
- Averse to Performing Physical Activity
Someone who is abusing Valium and has developed an addiction may also be shy, withdrawn and anxious. The drug is prescribed for these problems and it works very well at treating them initially, but once the tolerance sets in users find that they are more anxious than they were when they were initially prescribed the drug.
If they are prescribed the drug and they are abusing it, then they will fill their prescriptions more than they should. If they are acquiring the drug illegally, then there will likely be times when they are unable to get it and suffer the onset of withdrawals. They may be more irritable, more agitated and may even suffer from sweats, tremors and convulsions.
Am I Addicted to Valium?
If you have been using the drug for a prolonged period of time with very few breaks, then there is a good chance you will be addicted. The first sign that addiction may be creeping in are the cravings. You feel like you need the drug just to get by. This is not the only sign of addiction though, because someone who takes it for anxiety issues may feel like they need it after only one dose. After all, it’s hard not to be instantly drawn to something that make all of your problems go away.
This is where the withdrawals come in. If you start to feel physically unwell when you have not taken your dose for a day or two, then you are almost certainly addicted. In such cases you hold be very wary of stopping altogether and should instead look to taper down slowly, especially if you have been using large amounts for a long time. If you have been using small amounts for a short time, the withdrawal symptoms may be unpleasant, but they will probably not be dangerous if you are in otherwise optimum health. However, you should still consult with your doctor before making the decision to stop cold turkey.
Treatment for Diazepam Addiction
Valium addiction is not easy to overcome and it triggers some of the worst side effects and dangers of any addiction. However, there are some benefits over other drugs. Firstly, while it is a long, drawn-out and difficult process, it’s generally not as physically unpleasant as heroin withdrawal or alcohol withdrawal is. What’s more, the cravings tend not to be as bad, leading to fewer releapses.
Many addicts have taken the road to recovery and have made it to the other side without issue. Their journeys can be found in communities and message boards all over the internet and you should use them as inspiration and guidance to help you through, but you will also need support from your friends, your family and your doctor.
There is no quick fix. Don’t trick yourself into believing that you can swap it out for another recreational drug, allowing yourself to still feel the euphoria while you reduce the Valium. This only causes more problems and will likely prolong the suffering. Stay healthy, stay strong, get help when needed and it’ll be over before long.
How Long Does Diazepam Stay in Your System?
Valium can stay in your system for a long time, certainly much more so than other drugs. It has a half life of between 12 hours and 48 hours, which basically mans that you won’t feel the onset of withdrawals until this time has passed. On the flip side it also means that you are more likely to fail a drug test should you need to undergo one.
Drug tests will test for drugs like diazepam, often putting them under the umbrella of benzodiazepines, which includes drugs like temazepam and Xanax. As for how long exactly it stays in your system, including your urine, hair and blood, check below.
How Long Does Diazepam Stay in Your Urine?
Diazepam should stay in your urine for between 5 and 7 days. It’s not easy to expel it from your system as discussed on our guide to drug testing, but you can certainly speed up the process a little by following some simple tips on that page.
If you have been using for a long time, it may stay in your urine longer.
How Long Does Diazepam Stay in Your Blood?
Your blood retains traces of drugs for less time than both your urine and your hair and with diazepam it will likely stay there for up to two days, maybe more if you have been using a lot for a long time.
How Long Does Diazepam Stay in Your Hair?
In our guide to hair follicle drug testing we discussed how hair screens can catch drugs long past the date that urine and blood can. This is also the case with diazepam, which will remain for as long as 4 to 6 weeks in occasional users and longer in long-term users and Valium addicts.