Although Valium can be a helpful and effective medication, it comes with a number of risks. A person can become physically dependent on Valium, even when they take medication for only a short time. In these cases, doctors may recommend a Valium taper that helps someone slowly and safely decrease their dose over time. It is always important to seek a doctor’s guidance before stopping a drug like Valium, as quitting without help can lead to uncomfortable or even dangerous withdrawal symptoms.
Can You Stop Valium Cold Turkey?
Abruptly stopping the use of a benzodiazepine like Valium (diazepam) carries many risks, so quitting cold turkey is not recommended. Even if you take Valium for a short-term period, such as a few weeks, it’s possible to become physically dependent on the medication. Valium dependence occurs when your body comes to expect the substance and relies on the drug to slow signals in your brain. As a result, stopping Valium can over-excite the brain and lead to withdrawal symptoms, including severe symptoms like rebound anxiety or potentially life-threatening seizures.
Valium withdrawal can vary from person to person. It depends on how much Valium a person takes and how long they have used it. Valium withdrawal symptoms that can occur, especially if you stop the drug too quickly, include:
- Changes in sleep
- Rebound anxiety
- Panic attacks
- Trouble concentrating
- Weight loss
- Muscle pain or stiffness
- Heart racing (palpitations)
Benefits of Tapering
Weaning off of Valium (tapering) with medical supervision can be a safe and effective way of quitting. This process of slowly decreasing the amount of Valium you take can also help reduce any stress or anxiety you may feel about quitting. During the process, your doctor can proactively monitor you for signs of withdrawal and adjust your taper schedule as needed.
Tapering is much safer than quitting cold turkey, as it reduces your risk of experiencing withdrawal symptoms. In addition, this process gives your body time to adjust to the absence of Valium and helps you maintain a healthier life without the drug. Tapering can also minimize cravings for Valium, which helps reduce the risk of relapse and increases the chances of staying off Valium over the long term.
Valium Taper Schedule
Each person’s Valium taper schedule will vary based on how much Valium they use and how long they have been taking it. An example for someone who started with Valium 10 mg daily may look like this:
- Week one: Dose is continued or minimally reduced.
- Week two: Total dose reduced by 25%. In our example, decrease the dose to 7.5mg daily this week.
- Week three: Similar to week one, the dose may be reduced slightly or not at all.
- Week four: The dose is further reduced by 25% (or 50% from your dose before tapering). In our example, you would take 5 mg daily for this week.
- Week five to eight: In our example, you would continue taking 5 mg daily to give your body time to adjust to this lower dose.
- Week nine and beyond: Every two weeks, the dose is reduced by another 25% until you can safely stop taking Valium. In our example, this would be 2.5mg for two weeks, and then the drug would be stopped.
Tapering off Valium vs. Other Benzodiazepines
Valium is a long-acting benzo, meaning each dose takes longer to be felt and metabolized than short-acting benzos like Ativan or Xanax. Valium is longer-acting because it has a longer half-life, which refers to the amount of time it takes for the body to metabolize half of one dose. As a result, Valium is less likely to cause severe withdrawal than shorter-acting benzos because each dose remains in the body for longer and is removed more slowly. Valium is also less potent than other benzos, which helps make dose reductions easier to manage. For this reason, some health care providers will help patients quit other benzos by switching them to Valium and then tapering their dose.
Get Help for Valium Abuse and Addiction in Colorado
Located just outside of Denver, The Recovery Village at Palmer Lake offers a full continuum of care that ranges from medical detox and inpatient rehab to outpatient treatment and aftercare. We also offer teletherapy to help people receive evidence-based care and lifelong support from the comfort of home.
If you or someone you love is struggling with Valium abuse or addiction, The Recovery Village at Palmer Lake can help. Contact us today to learn how our team of qualified medical professionals can help you quit Valium safely and effectively.
We can help answer your questions and talk through any concerns.
Drugs.com. “Diazepam Monograph for Professionals.” November 9, 2020. Accessed June 19, 2022.
Pétursson, H. “The benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome.” Addiction, November 1994. Accessed June 20, 2022.
Ogbonna, C., et al. “Tapering Patients Off of Benzodiazepines.” American Family Physician, November 1, 2017. Accessed June 19, 2022.
National Center for PTSD. “Effective Treatments for PTSD: Helping P[…]from Benzodiazepines.” 2015. Accessed June 19, 2022.
The Recovery Village at Palmer Lake aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.