Valium is a sedative, commonly used to relax people when they are struggling with anxiety or are about to have surgery.
Due to its strong effects, the substance can be addictive, and the risk of overdose is particularly high. As a result, those who are struggling are recommended to detox, but this comes with its own risks.
Withdrawal symptoms can quickly manifest when an individual stops using Valium, and these can be extremely dangerous, even fatal, when not handled correctly.
Medically assisted detox is recommended to ensure the safety of an individual as they withdraw their Valium use, as well as improve their chances of having a successful detox.
Valium and detox
Valium, the popular trade name for Diazepam, is a drug belonging to the Benzodiazepine category of drugs, commonly used as a sedative to relax people.
The substance has many applications, notably as an anxiety treatment, a sedative for muscle spasms and seizures, and a way to relax patients before an operation. For all its uses, and in spite of it only being available via prescription, Valium can be addictive.
Due to the drug’s relaxing effect, sustained use can alter the body’s chemistry and cause it to become dependent on Valium to function. It has a very similar effect on the brain as alcohol, and so can severely impact an individual’s behaviour and thinking.
Those who abuse other substances are known to be more at risk of Valium dependency – as they combine it with things like alcohol to enhance its euphoric effect  – as well as those who take it in high doses.
Valium addictions can be very dangerous, and the risk is very high for overdose when it comes to those who use it alongside other substances. As an individual uses it more and more, their tolerance builds, also increasing the risk of overdose.
As a result, those with an addiction to Valium are advised to stop their use of the substance. However, the results of detoxing from it can be fatal if not handled correctly.
After sustained use, the body becomes physically addicted to Valium. When the substance is suddenly withdrawn, therefore, the body is thrown into imbalance, and this can cause it to react adversely.
This means that an individual will experience withdrawal symptoms, and these tend to manifest in two stages.
Following their most recent use of Valium, an individual will begin to develop withdrawal symptoms within a few days. This stage is commonly referred to as ‘acute withdrawal’.
Valium can remain within the body for up to 2 days, and so some may not experience withdrawal symptoms straight away. This time might also be affected by factors such as:
- How long an individual has been addicted to Valium
- How much Valium an individual usually takes
- How frequently an individual tends to take Valium
By the fourth day, however, it is common for most people to have developed withdrawal symptoms. These can include:
- Stomach problems, such as abdominal cramping and diarrhoea
- Shaking, usually in the hands
- Rapid heart rate and heightened blood pressure
- Confusion and disorientation
- Strong cravings for Valium
It is common for some individuals to experience psychological symptoms for conditions that were dampened by their use of Valium.
For example, those with anxiety are likely to have anxious thoughts resurface when the use of the substance is stopped. These are known as rebound symptoms.
It is important to note that, depending on the severity of their addiction, an individual might experience very serious symptoms after Valium withdrawal. Some may experience seizures or cardiac arrest, both of which can be fatal if not properly and immediately treated.
After the initial introduction of symptoms, an individual’s withdrawal will calm down but last for a longer period of time. Earlier symptoms will continue, but will likely be less intense.
This stage will continue for the next 10-14 days, and an individual might also experience new symptoms during this time, such as:
- Cold or flu-like symptoms, such as shaking and fatigue
- Feelings of indifference to the world
- Even stronger cravings for Valium
After this period, most people will experience a complete reduction in withdrawal symptoms.
In some cases, the effects of withdrawal will not end at this point. It has been known for some individuals to develop post-acute withdrawal syndrome, where some symptoms continue to impact them for a prolonged period of time.
These are predominantly psychological, pertaining to things like mood and worldview. An individual may feel more depressed or become increasingly isolated.
It is also common for those who have quit Valium to find it more difficult to experience a pleasure for a while after their main withdrawal symptoms have passed.
This period of long-term symptoms can last for years, and an individual tends to be very susceptible to relapse during this time.
Medically assisted detox
As a result of the dangers and relapse potential associated with detox, it is important that individuals looking to attempt it get the help of medical professionals. Detox works best when it is gradual , and medical assistance can ensure that this is done.
Aside from the protection that medical help can provide for an individual against some of the more lethal effects of withdrawal, it can also improve the detox’s chances of being successful.
Keeping an individual safe
The main benefit to conducting detox with medical assistance is that it ensures an individual is never putting their life at risk. While the withdrawal symptoms can be uncomfortable and taxing, they will not be allowed to develop to a point where they can seriously threaten an individual.
If a symptom looks to be potentially lethal or forces an individual to behave in a way that might prove harmful, the medical professionals can step in and provide help.
For example, they will be able to treat an individual if they suddenly succumb to cardiac arrest, or they can help keep an individual from hurting themselves if they experience suicidal thoughts as a result of unbearable cravings.
Improving the chances of success
An individual’s detox is also given a better chance of succeeding when medical professionals are involved. This is because they can use their knowledge of available treatments and apply whichever ones are most appropriate for an individual’s particular needs.
When devising a detox plan, a medical team might prepare treatments or dictate the pace of withdrawal based on factors such as:
- The severity of an individual’s addiction
- Whether an individual is addicted to any other substances at the same time
- Whether an individual has any pre-existing mental health conditions
- Whether an individual was taking Valium to help an ongoing health condition
The issue of withdrawal symptoms can also be helped here. If an individual is struggling with symptoms to the point where it threatens their progress, a medical team can prescribe a medicinal substitute.
These drugs can be used to take the place of Valium, therefore easing the body’s chemistry, reducing withdrawal symptoms, and allowing an individual to continue to engage with other recovery activities such as therapy.
While both protecting an individual from the damaging effects of Valium and preventing harmful withdrawal symptoms, this method allows for an individual to then gradually return to chemical independence.
The substitute can then be slowly withdrawn, allowing the body to gradually adjust to normality.