How long does Valium last in your system?

How long does Valium last in your system?

In this blog post, we will answer the following questions: How long does Valium last in your system? What are the side effects of Valium? What are the symptoms and consequences of benzodiazepines abuse? Keep reading to find interesting information about benzodiazepines. 

How long does Valium last in your system?

Valium is the brand name for benzodiazepine, which is also commonly known outside of the USA as Diazepam. We can define Diazepam as a powerful drug from the benzodiazepine family. It is used to relieve symptoms of anxiety, muscle spasms, severe contractions, seizures, and the agitation that alcohol withdrawal causes in a person addicted to it.

Despite its effectiveness, it is a medicine with which we must be careful because its impact on the body is very powerful, and it also has numerous quite dangerous side effects, including dependency.

Drugs that affect neurons (psychotropic drugs) often raise many questions about their function and effects. Studies on the chemistry of these compounds show that the effects can range from a few hours to almost a whole day. 

How long does Valium last in your system?

How long until Diazepam/Valium takes effect? 

This medicine is usually administered through tablets (pills), capsules or concentrated liquid, all to be taken orally. In this way, its effects are usually quite immediate and our body quickly notices the consequences of having taken this substance.

Approximately the effects of Diazepam can be felt in about 30 minutes. However, the time it takes for Diazepam to take effect can vary depending on different factors, including the person’s condition. The greater the activation or the more intense the anxious symptoms, the longer it will take to notice the effects. The immediate effects of Diazepam are as follows:

  • Drowsiness
  • Muscle relaxation
  • Relief of anxiety symptoms
  • Physical tiredness
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Difficulty maintaining attention
  • Problems in coordinating movements

Many people describe its effects as a sensation of being in a haze in the mind, and it is that, apart from relaxing, Diazepam also produces a sedative effect that can leave us out of place if we do not expect it. 

This psychotropic drug must be administered with great care and its use must not exceed three months, if we do not carefully follow the medical recommendations, the long-term effects may be serious and more difficult to treat than the problem we wanted to alleviate with the use of the Diazepam.

How long does valium last?

The effects that we have previously described do not remain indefinitely in us, Diazepam usually enters our body and causes its effects for a period of between 6 and 8 hours, always depending on many variables such as the dose ingested, the physical complexion of the person or if it has been mixed with alcohol or other substances.

The dose of this drug will vary depending on the reason why we are taking it, if our symptoms are more severe we may be prescribed a higher dose. Therefore, it is not the same to know how long the effect of Diazepam 10 mg lasts to know the duration of this same medicine but of 5mg.

Diazepam severely alters cognitive functions since it affects neurons and reduces the activity of our brain. During the hours that Diazepam is in our body, we must avoid doing any type of physical exercise, driving or making important decisions. 

We must take it at times when we know that we are going to be calm and do not have any type of responsibility to manage. The consequences of performing an activity under the influence of Diazepam can be very dangerous for our physical and mental integrity.

How long does Valium last in your system?

How long does Diazepam take to leave the body?

Although its effects last between 6 and 8 hours, Diazepam stays in the body and in the bloodstream much longer, between 36 and 200 hours to be exact. This is equivalent to the fact that it takes between 2 and 9 days for Diazepam to be completely expelled from our body. It is possible that, even weeks later, traces of Diazepam will be found in the urine if we have maintained a prolonged consumption of this medicine.

Diazepam/Valium side effects

The drugs of the benzodiazepine family directly affect the Central Nervous System (CNS), even knowing how long the effects of Diazepam last, much remains to be discovered about the long-term consequences of this drug. At the moment, the following side effects have been described:

  • Drowsiness
  • Feeling of impending fainting
  • Depression symptoms
  • Suicidal behaviour
  • Hallucinations and confusion
  • Muscular weakness
  • Dry mouth
  • Upset stomach and diarrhoea
  • Respiration problems
  • Slight flaws in our memory

Additionally, Diazepam produces the following long-term side effects:

  • Slow thinking
  • Headaches
  • Negative effects on mental health
  • Dependence and severe addiction
  • Immune system disorders
  • Disorders of perception and depersonalization

It is important to avoid dependency at all costs, an addiction to a psychotropic drug of this calibre is very complicated to treat and the effects of said dependency are worse than those of the pathology that we wanted to treat initially.

With these data on the table, it is not surprising that you want to restrict your consumption. Without denying the efficacy of the active ingredient, we must explore other options before resorting to taking this psychotropic drug, and in the case of taking it for symptoms of anxiety, we must combine it with psychological therapy and relaxation techniques.

How long does Valium last in your system?

More about benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines are very commonly prescribed drugs, the most common conditions in which benzodiazepine therapy is recommended are anxiety and insomnia. Therefore, benzodiazepines are anxiolytic (have an effect of relieving anxiety) and hypnotic (induce sleep, being very useful in insomnia in sleep). The most famous substance of this class in Romania is diazepam.

Benzodiazepines are generally safe drugs and an overdose of benzodiazepines rarely leads to death. However, chronic use can lead to addiction. These drugs are often combined with other substances by patients who abuse substances. 

In these patients, due to the very high risk of addiction, alternatives to benzodiazepines such as antidepressants, anticonvulsants, buspirone and new-type neuroleptic drugs are recommended. A detailed history is therefore required before prescribing benzodiazepines to avoid prescribing them to patients who are substance abusers or have been addicted in the past. 

The therapeutic efficacy of benzodiazepines in reducing anxiety, inducing sleep and relieving symptoms in panic attacks has been proven in numerous placebo-controlled studies and is undeniable. Their anxiolytic and hypnotic effect is very great so they are used a lot, especially in psychiatry.

Benzodiazepines are also prescribed for other conditions such as muscle spasticity, convulsive neurological diseases, pre-anaesthesia sedation, muscle diseases with involuntary spasms, detoxification therapy for alcoholics and people suffering from anxiety associated with cardiovascular or gastrointestinal diseases. 

Symptoms of benzodiazepine abuse

Benzodiazepines are addictive drugs and are very commonly used. Abuse can be chronic or occasional and are often used in combination with alcohol and/or barbiturates, a combination that is extremely dangerous. Benzodiazepines are also used for illicit purposes, in the form of “data-rape drugs”, their use in this regard increasing alarmingly in recent years.

Used at regular doses and under strict medical supervision, benzodiazepines are very effective drugs for anxiety and insomnia and are very well tolerated. Side effects occur when doses are increased and are manifested by:

  • dizziness
  • confusion
  • Sleepiness
  • blurry vision
  • muscle weakness
  • speech inconsistency
  • decreased coordination capacity
  • respiratory problems
  • even coma.

Symptoms of chronic benzodiazepine abuse can be very nonspecific and may involve behavioural changes that affect interpersonal relationships and performance at work. 

Very often children become addicted to benzodiazepines that have been prescribed to parents for anxiety or insomnia if the drugs are left at their fingertips, which leads to impaired school and intellectual performance. Chronic benzodiazepine abuse can lead to the following symptoms:

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Anorexia
  • Headache
  • muscle weakness.

These symptoms occur when the drug is stopped. 

How long does Valium last in your system?

Despite its many therapeutic uses, benzodiazepines are physically and psychologically addictive. Addiction causes withdrawal symptoms and sometimes even convulsions when the drug is stopped abruptly. Addiction and withdrawal are extremely rare in people receiving low doses of benzodiazepines for short periods of time. 

Withdrawal symptoms are dominated by anxiety and constant panic. They appear 3-4 days after the last use.

Benzodiazepine tolerance occurs most frequently in terms of the hypnotic effect (sleep-inducing effect). Therefore, patients note that at the same dose, the effect of relieving insomnia is no longer the same, although the effect of reducing anxiety is maintained. Tolerance to the anxiolytic effect develops more difficult than tolerance to the hypnotic effect.

The physiological and psychological dependence on benzodiazepines depends on the duration of the drug administration and the dose. Addiction will develop very early (1-2 months) in a patient receiving high-dose benzodiazepines with a very strong effect, such as alprazolam (Xanax), compared to patients receiving low-dose benzodiazepines,  an agent with lower effects such as chlordiazepoxide.

As a result of psychological dependence, withdrawal symptoms occur when the drug is suddenly stopped or the dose is greatly reduced.

Benzodiazepine withdrawal

Withdrawal mainly causes a very high level of anxiety and panic associated with neurovegetative instability (increased pulse, increased blood pressure, tremor, diffuse sweating). Insomnia and hypersensitivity to external stimuli are also very common.

 The most severe symptoms associated with withdrawal from benzodiazepines are seizures and delirium tremens, which generally occur in patients who receive high doses of the medicine and have suddenly stopped taking it.

In the elderly, benzodiazepines cause many side effects and much more severe withdrawal symptoms. The risk of drug interactions increased cognitive dysfunction and decreased psychomotor capacity is very high. The use of benzodiazepines in the elderly is associated with an increase in the rate of falls that cause hip and femoral fractures and with an increase in domestic accidents. 

The memory may be severely impaired, although this impairment is largely reversible upon discontinuation of benzodiazepines. Therefore, benzodiazepines should not be used in the elderly unless absolutely necessary, for a very short period of time and under strict therapeutic supervision.

How long does Valium last in your system?

Conclusions

In this blog post, we answered the following questions: How long does Valium last in your system? What are the side effects of Valium? What are the symptoms and consequences of benzodiazepines abuse?

Valium is the brand name for benzodiazepine, which is also commonly known outside of the USA as Diazepam. We can define Diazepam as a powerful drug from the benzodiazepine family. It is used to relieve symptoms of anxiety, muscle spasms, severe contractions, seizures, and the agitation that alcohol withdrawal causes in a person addicted to it.

Despite its effectiveness, it is a medicine with which we must be careful because its impact on the body is very powerful, and it also has numerous quite dangerous side effects, including dependency.

The physiological and psychological dependence on benzodiazepines depends on the duration of the drug administration and the dose. Addiction will develop very early (1-2 months) in a patient receiving high-dose benzodiazepines with a very strong effect, such as alprazolam (Xanax), compared to patients receiving low-dose benzodiazepines,  an agent with lower effects such as chlordiazepoxide.

If you have any questions or comments, please let us know!

Further reading

Diazepam; Third Edition, by G.J. Blokdijk 

Diazepam: What No One Will Tell You About (Pocket Pharmacy), by Dr. Kevin Brown 

Effects of Diazepam on Attention and Memory: a Psychophysiological and Neuropsychological Approach (NICI technical report), by Agnieszka Unrug 

I Can Make You Sleep, by Paul McKenna

References

Recoveryfirst.org – How Long Does Valium Stay in Your System?

Americanaddictioncenters.org – How Long Does Valium Stay in Your System?

Prescription-drug.addictionblog.org – How long does Valium last?

Nhs.uk – Diazepam

How long does Valium last in your system?

Juanita Agboola

Juanita Agboola is the editor in chief of HFNE and an expert in mental health online. She has been writing about online behavior, mental health and psychology issues since 2012. All Guides are reviewed by our editorial team which constitutes various clinical psychologists, PhD and PsyD colleagues.