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How Medical Detox Centers Treat Valium Withdrawal

Valium, which is generically known as diazepam, became popular in the 1970s as an anti-anxiety medication. As psychopharmacological drugs gained notoriety, they became known as “mother’s little helpers” because of their ability to help women manage difficulties with motherhood. 

The name “Valium” comes from the Latin term meaning “to be strong and well,” and it skyrocketed in popularity as it was marketed toward women. When it was introduced to the public, it was seen as a drug that could not create dependence and was safe. But like selling snake oil, addiction overwhelmed the people who used it.

A Swiss drug company named Roche Labs introduced Valium in 1963. It also became the first billion-dollar medicine as well as the first brand-name drug. Once the drug was on the market for about 10 years, a jaw-dropping number of 59.3 million people had a prescription for it. This accounted for 81 percent of all tranquilizers that were on the market at the time. It wasn’t until 1975 when the drug became abused on the street illegally. At that time, it was still considered safe, and it was said that a lethal dose by a suicidal person was nearly impossible. This all led to people ignoring the warning signs of Valium addiction, adding fuel to the fire.

What is often referred to as the benzodiazepine craze in the mid-1960s through the late 1970s had seen several publications that printed articles about the mass consumption of Valium. This included a major magazine, Cosmopolitan, that, in essence, accepted the drug, highlighting a new relationship between patient and doctor where emotional problems were cured by a miracle pill. This was a turning point in the popularity of Valium.

Valium is still prescribed today as a means to relieve anxiety, which, according to the National Institute on Mental Health, affects 19.1 percent of adults in the United States. The same study highlighted that anxiety is more likely to affect women (23.4 percent) versus men (14.3 percent), which could answer why Valium was geared more toward women. 

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is the most common mental illness, and it can be crippling in some cases. While drugs like Valium can be highly effective, over time we have discovered that the drugs, despite initial claims, can be highly addictive and render users helpless in a state of active addiction. So we ask the question for someone seeking treatment: How does a medical detox center treat Valium withdrawal? Let’s discuss some factors that affect withdrawal first.

Factors that Affect Valium Withdrawal

Withdrawal symptoms from Valium can vary based on many factors. Upon entry to a medical detoxification center, addiction treatment professionals will assess the user and get an idea of their medical, psychiatric, and substance use history. Treatment is an individualized approach to getting someone sober, and these factors can dictate how they will proceed.

How long the drug was used

How long the drug was used: The length of time benzodiazepine drugs are consumed can create a higher tolerance, which makes the person more dependent on the Valium for everyday activities.


Dosage: A higher dose can translate into a lengthened withdrawal process. A higher dose will result in a greater dependency as well as the frequency of use.

Quitting gradually vs. cold turkey

Quitting gradually vs. cold turkey: Due to the dangerous withdrawal symptoms of Valium, someone should never forgo stopping on their own. Tapering off the drug gradually can alleviate extreme withdrawal symptoms and reduce the risk of relapse.


Genetics: Genetic makeup and behavioral tendencies can contribute how easy or difficult the withdrawal process will be

Dependency on the drug

Dependency on the drug: Valium is highly potent and carries a high risk of being misused and abused. When the drug is used recreationally, it can be a clear path toward use disorder.

All experiences between users will differ based on the level of drug dependency, the timeframe it was used, and other personal factors that all contribute to the difficulty of stopping Valium.

Possible Valium Withdrawal Symptoms

There is a wide range of physical, mental, and emotional effects that a client can feel during withdrawal and detox. All reactions will be unique to the client. While one client in treatment could experience no symptoms, another can experience all of the common withdrawal symptoms. Valium, however, is notorious for being difficult to withdrawal from because of the high risk of building tolerance and dependence. The most common symptoms will be an increased level of anxiety since the drug is often used to treat anxiety. These levels will be much higher due to the brain realigning itself.

Some Valium users complain of concentration problems, confusion, hallucinations, depression, and even memory loss. This is typical for symptoms associated with an elevation in anxiety.

Other symptoms can include:

  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Sweating
  • Tremors

While these symptoms are milder and not life-threatening, they still can be reduced by entering a detox program. The combination of medical treatments and therapies in such a program can relieve and lessen these symptoms as the body adjusts to life without Valium.

How to Treat Valium Withdrawal in Medical Detox

While ending the use of Valium is not always dangerous, there are unique challenges. There is an increased risk for agitation, seizures, and a condition known as delirium tremens (DTs), which can be deadly. Due to these risks when stopping the use of Valium, medical detoxification is necessary to ensure safety. This is most often the recommended course of treatment for an addiction to this type of drug. 

Medical detox allows the body to process and remove the drug from the client’s system while a team of specialists assists in assessing vitals and managing complications that could arise.During detox from benzos, health care professionals could administer medication to alleviate the worst symptoms and mitigate any complications.

This can include:

  • Reducing the dose over weeks or months.
  • Switching to another benzo with a slower onset of action that has less potential to be abused. This will mitigate any risks the client could have from seizures during withdrawal.
  • Switching from Valium to a long-acting barbiturate like phenobarbital.

As mentioned earlier, each person will have a different experience. The type of treatment they require will differ based on a variety of factors, but what is mutually agreed upon by addiction specialists is that sudden cessation of Valium is dangerous and should never be done alone.

If someone is in the stage of their addiction where they’re ready to get help, they should take the prospect seriously and not risk death. 

How Ocean Breeze Can Inspire Your Recovery Today

Treating benzodiazepines use disorder can be extremely dangerous, and the only way to mitigate any dangers is to seek help. Getting trapped in addiction can feel like a never-ending road, but there are options. Ocean Breeze Recovery has the tools to help people rebuild their lives. We are an addiction rehab center based in South Florida dedicated to healing broken minds, bodies, and spirits. Depression is one of the side effects of addiction that can leave someone mentally paralyzed. Substances often can hijack your brain and take away your ability to function normally,  which affects your mental health. This makes choosing the right treatment center even more important.

Ready to get Help?

Talk to a treatment expert

Ocean Breeze offers customized treatment that aims to give people a better shot at lasting recovery rather than a simple detox or self-treatment. Those models by themselves are, in many cases, not sustainable. If you are ready to gain back the traction in your life, it’s time to reach out. Call one of our addiction specialists at 855-960-5341 or contact us online to further discuss your options. We are ready to give you the opportunity for a better life.

Sources (2020, June 5) Valium. Thorton, P., DipPharm. Retrieved from

Encyclopedia Brittannica.Valium. Retrieved from

National Institute of Mental Health. (2017 November) Any Anxiety Disorder. Retrieved from

Mayo Clinic. Generalized anxiety disorder. Retrieved from

verywellmind. (2020, April 1) How Long Does Withdrawal From Benzodiazepines Last? Signs and Symptoms. O'Keefe Osborn, C. Retrieved from

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