Diazepam Withdrawal and Detox

evelop a significant level of physical dependence, diazepam withdrawal symptoms may manifest if you attempt to quit using the drug. Such withdrawal symptoms can be uncomfortable and even dangerous, and can include anxiety, confusion, tremors and seizures. While diazepam withdrawal is highly probable for chronic users, you could also experience the symptoms after using diazepam for as little as two to four weeks.

People have different reasons for using diazepam. Whether you’re taking it to stave off emotional pain, to manage alcohol withdrawal, to relieve anxiety or to achieve a ‘high’ of sorts, consistent use and abuse is likely to result in addiction eventually. If you’re using diazepam and feeling worried that you’re becoming reliant on it, don’t wait until you develop dependence or addiction before you seek help.

Diazepam Withdrawal: What is it?

Diazepam withdrawal involves a range of physical and mental symptoms that occur after you stop taking it. Diazepam is an addictive drug that boosts the release of dopamine, a chemical responsible for pleasurable feelings in the reward centres of the brain. The resultant ‘high’ serves to reinforce continued use and abuse of diazepam. After a period of time, tolerance can build up, leading to an increased need to take more of the drug, in order to achieve the same level of euphoria. In as little as three to six weeks, your body can become accustomed to the presence of diazepam, and you may become physically and emotionally dependent on the drug.

Developing a dependence on diazepam increases your likelihood of experiencing withdrawal when you abstain from using the drug. Diazepam withdrawal can be quite intense and extremely challenging. In many cases, the symptoms of withdrawal which manifest can be confused with mood disorders or other mental health problems. Therefore, if you’re trying to quit diazepam, you can improve your chances of success by choosing a specialist withdrawal and detox centre.

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Types of Diazepam Withdrawal

Acute Withdrawal: This is commonly referred to as the acute phase, which begins when you stop using the medication. Acute withdrawal is likely to be a smooth transition stage if you tapered – gradually decreased your consumption – as opposed to abruptly quitting via the ‘cold turkey’ method or through rapid withdrawal. At this stage withdrawal becomes easier after a while, but is marked by symptoms oscillating in nature. Such symptoms become intermittent, then less intense and frequent, before disappearing completely. New symptoms may still appear and disappear periodically.

Post-Acute Withdrawal (PAWS): This type of withdrawal – potentially lasting months or even years – is more psychological in nature, partly resulting from the cessation of the periods of euphoria which are a consequence of taking diazepam. People suffering from PAWS can experience mood swings and periods of depression, interference with sleep patterns, heightened levels of stress, and potentially anhedonia – an inability to experience pleasure. Intense, if temporary, cravings for the drug may also occur at random intervals.

Causes of Diazepam Withdrawal

Diazepam withdrawal occurs because the brain and body naturally adapt to the consumption of benzodiazepines and other psychoactive drugs. After metabolising, diazepam creates a calm feeling of peaceful relaxation by slowing down the brain’s responses. However, prolonged diazepam intake causes the brain to adjust by increasing certain functions to make up for the chemical imbalance. When you quit, it becomes difficult for your body to know the difference, as it has been compensating by speeding up its responses.

Therefore, your brain needs a period of adjustment to cope with the lack of ‘new’ diazepam. The withdrawal symptoms which occur will then remain, until you take your usual diazepam dose or your body is able to adjust on its own. Diazepam withdrawal occurs within the period your body begins to normalise and gets used to functioning normally again without diazepam.

Diazepam Withdrawal Timeline

24 – 72 hours after last diazepam dose: During this period, you may experience anxiety and restlessness. Your withdrawal symptoms at this stage appear as a kind of physical discomfort and include: headaches, depression, sleep disorders, cravings, abdominal cramps, racing thoughts, heart palpitations, rebound anxiety, dysphoria, concentration difficulties and irritability.

 

Week 1 after last diazepam dose: This first week is usually the hardest during diazepam withdrawal. You’ll have to deal with sleep disturbances and waking up constantly throughout the night. Aches and pains can also be expected. During this period, you might experience the greatest cravings for diazepam. However, your condition should stabilise with medical supervision.

Week 2 after last diazepam dose: Withdrawal symptoms will usually peak in the second week after you quit. You could experience full-blown withdrawal symptoms taking effect during this period, which may include tremors, sweating and muscle pain.

Weeks 3 to 4 after last diazepam dose: Usually, the third and fourth week of withdrawal may be regarded as an adjustment period. During this stage, your condition might stabilise and you could begin to feel your body returning back to normal. While you might still experience anxiety and insomnia, the worst of withdrawal is usually over by this time.

Diazepam Withdrawal: Symptoms and Effects

The symptoms and effects resulting from diazepam withdrawal usually vary from one person to the next. Therefore, it is almost impossible to experience all of the potential symptoms that could occur during withdrawal. Your experience of diazepam withdrawal will depend on how dependent you’ve become and personal factors such as your health, metabolism, age and mental state. It’s essential to have an understanding of all symptoms of diazepam withdrawal, to prepare you for a possible wide range of different experiences when you decide to quit.

Symptoms of Diazepam Withdrawal

Different determining factors influence how your benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms occur. They include: your regularly abused dose of diazepam, the severity of addiction, physical health, mental health status, how long you abused diazepam and any co-occurring drug use: if you are a chronic or long-term user (or using multiple benzodiazepines simultaneously), you could experience a more severe withdrawal syndrome.

Physical Symptoms of Diazepam Withdrawal

It’s essential to know how to identify the signs and symptoms of diazepam withdrawal. Even at prescribed doses, diazepam withdrawal can occur, affecting cognitive functioning, motor functioning and memory. It also puts elderly users at risk of falls and over-sedation. In adolescents, diazepam might be mixed recreationally with alcohol, heroin or opioids to intensify the euphoria, putting them at risk of severe withdrawal, overdose and even death.

Common physical symptoms of diazepam withdrawal can include the following: insomnia, nausea, vomiting, tension, headaches, irritability, heart palpitations, restlessness, sweating, stomach cramps, muscle pain and stiffness, dizziness, ringing in ears, poor memory, blurred vision, diarrhoea, tremors or shakiness, as well as hypersensitivity to taste, touch, sound and light. One serious and potentially dangerous withdrawal symptom is grand mal seizures. Like other symptoms, your risk of experiencing a seizure depends on the dose of diazepam you’ve used and the longevity of usage.

Psychological Symptoms of Diazepam Withdrawal

In addition to the physical symptoms of diazepam withdrawal, you may also experience some psychological withdrawal symptoms, which may intensify your cravings and increase the possibility of relapse. These psychological symptoms may include: paranoia, delusions, anxiety, hallucinations, depression, confusion, delirium and depersonalisation (where your thoughts and feelings seem unreal).

Regularly using diazepam can result in psychological dependence and psychological withdrawal symptoms when you decide to stop taking the medication completely or significantly reduce your normal dose. Detox programmes can help you safely overcome your diazepam addiction or dependence without experiencing severe psychological withdrawal symptoms. If you’ve become addicted to diazepam, you should seek medical detox and treatment at a recovery centre.

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Effects of Diazepam Withdrawal

Diazepam reduces central nervous system activity, including the way your brain signals or communicates with the other brain centres. When you abuse diazepam, you may experience a ‘high’ that includes euphoria, the feeling of being drunk as well as a lack of coordination. After the substance peaks, withdrawal may occur and your mellow feelings start to fade as you ‘come down’ or ‘crash’. Your brain speeds up from its slowed state and other unpleasant effects may occur such as a more intense feelings of your initial anxiety, depression, stomach cramps, fever, irritation, rapid heart rate and seizures. You may attempt to counter the crash by taking more diazepam (or another psychoactive drug) to slow down your body once more and in turn experience a sluggish, relaxed feeling.

The danger of taking more diazepam is that your body quickly develops a tolerance, which increases the difficulty of achieving the same state of euphoria via your regular dose. You may therefore need to take even more diazepam, increasing your risk of addiction and overdose. Chronic diazepam use over a long period of time can lead to severe effects on your brain and body, especially once you try to quit. These effects can be permanent or even life-threatening in some cases. Examples of such effects include hallucinations, slowed pulse, difficulty breathing, memory loss, coma and heart attack. Diazepam withdrawal can also cause social isolation, financial difficulties and job loss, in addition to permanent physical damage from accidents that can occur whilst experiencing severe symptoms.

Diazepam Detoxification

Diazepam detoxification is usually carried out at a treatment centre for diazepam dependency or any medical facility where you can be guided through a controlled process of ridding your body of drugs. With the help of trained medical staff, you can be slowly weaned off diazepam through a taper method – a commonly used detoxification process. The tapering process gradually reduces the diazepam levels in your system over an extended period of time, so that you can avoid severe withdrawal symptoms. During diazepam detoxification, you’ll be able to adjust to the decreasing levels of the drug. Each step of this process involves lowering diazepam doses steadily, until you can discontinue the drug without triggering withdrawal symptoms.

Generally, tapering can take from 10 to 14 days to complete, though the specific duration depends on the initial levels of diazepam present in your body at the start of detox, as well as the acceptance of the body to the lowering levels of medication. During diazepam detox, you can experience withdrawal if your dose is reduced too quickly. If this happens, the level of diazepam medication administered may be temporarily raised to allow your system to readjust. Even though this is a form of setback – and can lengthen the tapering process – it ensures your safety as you undergo detox.

Diazepam Abuse: Detox Process

Staying in a diazepam detox centre may be necessary in order to effectively treat your diazepam dependence and safely remove the drug from your system, without intensifying withdrawal symptoms. It can sometimes be unnerving and overwhelming to enter a detoxification programme, especially when you are unfamiliar with the diazepam abuse detox process. However, detox provides a safe, medically monitored method via which to eliminate diazepam and other substances from your system. Medical staff and psychological experts are available to track your progress, as well as identify and treat any mental or physical health conditions. They can also provide rapid medical intervention, in case any complications occur during the process.

The main aim of the diazepam abuse detox process is to help you withdraw from the drug safely and prepare you to continue substance abuse treatment to ensure long-lasting recovery. The process of detox usually begins with an evaluation, where information concerning your medical, psychiatric, family and drug use history will be recorded. Drug testing is also typically conducted at this stage in addition to other assessments to help plan a proper treatment procedure. A stabilisation stage follows, where you will be gradually tapered off diazepam under the close supervision of medical professionals. In addition, treatment centre staff can work with you to develop a practical plan for sustained abstinence. The final phase of detox involves facilitating your entry into rehabilitation, so that you can get the treatment, therapy and skills you need to prevent relapse.

Diazepam Detoxification Timeline

A safe and comprehensive diazepam detox will usually begin with a full evaluation of your physical, psychological and psychosocial needs. The results from your evaluation will be used to develop an individualised detoxification plan. During the first few days of detox, as your body rids itself of the drug, you may experience some or all of the symptoms listed above. Seizures may occur at this stage if you’ve been taking high doses of diazepam or if you’ve been using it for a long time.

The entire detox process is focused on helping you reduce the intensity of withdrawal symptoms or avoid them completely, whilst ensuring your safety and comfort as much as possible. This is why medical detox facilities provide medication-assisted detoxification, gradual diazepam dose reduction and consistent monitoring by addiction specialists. The taper process (usually recommended during benzodiazepine detox) involves slowly reducing the amount of diazepam you’re taking, which helps to prevent life-threatening withdrawal symptoms and ease the impact of withdrawal on your brain and body. Throughout the duration of detox, symptoms such as nausea, sleeplessness, anxiety and dizziness can be addressed using different medications or holistic therapies.

Treatment Methods and Options

As noted above, diazepam withdrawal symptoms range from anxiety to insomnia, depression, irritability and seizures. You could also experience nightmares, poor concentration, stiffness, chest pain, dizziness and pupil dilation. It is therefore crucial that you don’t abruptly stop taking diazepam to avoid these symptoms. Instead, seek help via the appropriate treatment methods and options for quitting diazepam use. Your doctor may choose to taper you off the drug, which involves prescribing or administering diazepam in smaller doses. This treatment method can effectively minimise a lot of your withdrawal symptoms. The length of time it takes to complete detox and recovery via this method is determined by how much diazepam you’ve been using.

If you were taking a large daily dose of diazepam, then weaning you off may take weeks or months. Whether you choose to undergo detox at an inpatient or outpatient treatment centre, it’s important to have trained medical personnel overseeing your withdrawal. Mental impairments can occur, especially if you’ve been abusing diazepam for a long period of time. This is another reason why you should choose professional treatment as a method of overcoming diazepam addiction and dependence.

Finding the Right Treatment

Your decision to choose traditional inpatient or outpatient treatment for diazepam addiction is primarily influenced by the severity of your addiction. If you are experiencing medical issues that require continued care and monitoring – or if you are suffering a significant amount of emotional or mental distress – you may benefit more from hospitalisation, followed by residential or inpatient treatment. These programmes usually consist of 30 to 60 days of treatment, involving individual counselling and group therapy to help you realise that you’re not alone. Educational counselling is also provided to help you understand your addiction, recognise triggers and handle cravings efficiently.

However, if you have no serious medical issues, and have the necessary motivation to follow treatment with less supervision, then you can consider outpatient treatment. With this mode of treatment, it is essential to have a good support system at home or wherever you reside. It follows a similar pattern to inpatient treatment, with the main difference being that you are required to attend treatment or therapy for several hours a week, instead of residing at the actual facility.

Self-detoxification from Diazepam

When you are dependent on diazepam, it may be difficult to quit due to the fear of uncomfortable physical and psychological symptoms that may occur. However, you may want to try a home detox as a way to curtail the negative effects the drug may be causing. If you’re abusing diazepam, home detox or quitting ‘cold turkey’ is unsafe and potentially dangerous. A ‘cold turkey’ detox is only possible if you have a lower dependency rate, and your doctor should be aware so that they can determine a specific protocol. Your body may not need to compensate as much when you have not developed a high level of dependence to the drug. Nevertheless, this method of abrupt withdrawal can result in seizures, coma and other potentially deadly consequences. Home detox can be especially risky when there are co-occurring medical or mental problems present, which could compromise the withdrawal process.

Instead of risking your life, it’s crucial to seek professional help. Professional detoxification is always advisable, especially with potent benzodiazepines like diazepam, when trying to break free of the cycle of abuse. Professional treatment centres have trained and helpful staff on hand to treat any medical complications or mental health problems that may be present. If preferable, you can also go through an outpatient medical detox programme that allows you to live at home, whilst undergoing treatment. The outpatient method simply requires you to report to the treatment centre or doctor’s office to receive medication to help you through the detox process. As long as your doctor approves this method of treatment, you will probably find that it is a flexible option, which is also safer than attempting self-detoxification.

Facts and Stats: Things about Benzo Withdrawal You Might Not Know

Benzodiazepines like diazepam are extremely difficult to withdraw from, mostly because of the severity of symptoms that occur and the long duration of withdrawal. If you’re considering quitting diazepam, having a good knowledge about Benzo withdrawal can be helpful during the process.

  • Long withdrawal process: in most cases, the withdrawal process takes more than a few days, and can even last for months or years. Usually, the timeline will vary according to the type of benzodiazepine used. While a short-acting drug like Xanax may take about seven days from which to withdraw, diazepam withdrawal can cause symptoms lasting around 90 days, due to its long-acting nature.
  • Difficult withdrawal symptoms: some of the most common symptoms of benzodiazepine withdrawal include sweating, night sweats, heart palpitations, muscle twitching, moderate to severe depression, extreme anxiety and poor memory.
  • Going ‘cold turkey’ can be dangerous: though you may think the best thing to do with an addictive drug is to stop taking it immediately, going ‘cold turkey’ can be excruciatingly painful and is not recommended by doctors. Withdrawal seizures are a real possibility when the levels of the medication are significantly and abruptly low in the bloodstream.
  • Detox through tapering method is advised: experts and rehab facilities make use of a gradual taper detox programme as a way to help when you’ve become dependent on benzodiazepines. This involves administering smaller doses of the drug over a period of time or using a less potent benzodiazepine to wean you off diazepam.
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Ready for Help?

Medically supervised detox provides a range of benefits that self-detoxification cannot match. It is designed to help you safely undergo the process of expelling all drug toxins from your system in a safe, friendly and sterile environment. These programmes give you access to addiction specialists who can intervene in case of medical emergencies, as well as resources and medications needed to make detox as comfortable as possible.

Diazepam addiction and withdrawal can wreak havoc on your health and general quality of life. It therefore needs to be addressed in a compassionate and safe medical environment.

Get Answers to Your Questions

Getting through diazepam withdrawal and detox may seem like a tough nut to crack right now, but you are capable of getting clean. The experienced addiction specialists at your chosen detox treatment centre will work with you every step of the way.  Whether you have a long history of diazepam abuse or have only used the medication for a short period, medical staff have the appropriate skills to get you through detox.

Your chance of successful rehabilitation and recovery is even higher after detox, and you can continue to rebuild the life of your dreams.


FAQs

What is Diazepam Withdrawal?

Diazepam withdrawal refers to a group of physical and psychological symptoms that appear after you stop taking diazepam. You can expect to experience diazepam withdrawal when you develop a physical dependence on the drug.

What are the Types of Diazepam Withdrawal?

The three main types of diazepam withdrawal are: early withdrawal, acute withdrawal and protracted withdrawal. In early withdrawal, your brain rebounds because of the absence of diazepam and the symptoms the drug initially worked to suppress may come flooding back. Therefore, you may experience a return of anxiety and insomnia during both early and acute withdrawal. In protracted withdrawal, lingering symptoms such as tingling feelings may appear randomly and without warning. However, mental health services and ongoing care beyond addiction treatment can help to manage protracted diazepam withdrawal.

What is Diazepam Withdrawal Like?

Your experience of diazepam withdrawal will depend on the period of time you used the drug, as well as how much and how frequently you ingested on a daily basis. Prolonged and heavy diazepam usage results in harsher withdrawal, and you may experience symptoms such as: muscle pain, sweating, severe anxiety, tremors, abdominal cramps, vomiting and headache.

Can These Symptoms be Categorised in Order of Seriousness and are There Side-Effects?

Each person’s experience of diazepam withdrawal differs from the next; as a result it’s impossible to rate symptoms objectively in order of seriousness (though of course symptoms such as seizures, coma and even death are, by definition, extremely serious). Diazepam can cause some serious side effects such as irritation, depression, anxiety, fever, stomach cramps, rapid heart rate and seizures.

How Long do Diazepam Withdrawal Symptoms Last?

Several factors determine the length of diazepam withdrawal, including: your level of dependence and tolerance, the frequency and longevity of use, co-occurring mental disorders, your gender, age and personal metabolism.

Diazepam withdrawal starts a few hours after your last dose, usually around the time when your body expects another one. Acute diazepam withdrawal symptoms may fade within the first few days of detox, while others may linger for several weeks. Generally, the withdrawal process can take up to four or five weeks to complete. Additionally, post-acute withdrawal can remain for several months after your acute withdrawal phase is complete.

Do Symptoms and Their Duration Vary from Person to Person?

Diazepam withdrawal tends to fluctuate between highs and lows. You may feel better one week and then an intense wave of withdrawal symptoms the next. Therefore, withdrawal from benzodiazepines like diazepam can be unpredictable, and will vary from person to person, with multiple changes occurring in the process.

Do You Have a List of Popular Slang or Street Names for Diazepam?

If you suspect someone you know is abusing diazepam, it can help to look out for constant use of slang terms that refer to the drug. Diazepam is the generic name for valium, and some of the popular slang or street names for the drug include: Downers, V’s, Blue V’s, Yellow V’s, Dead Flower Powers, Benzos, Howards, Foofoo, Tranks and Sleepaway.

Are There Any Home Remedies for Getting Clean Safely?

Diazepam withdrawal can be challenging to go through alone, so considering a home remedy as a natural alternative might not be the best option for you. Withdrawal can also be dangerous, with severe withdrawal effects ranging from anxiety to seizures, mental confusion and agitation. Professional treatment centres specialise in providing safe withdrawal, and can ensure you quit diazepam as safely and effectively as possible.

How Long Does It Take to Detox From Diazepam?

It can take anywhere from three to four weeks to complete a diazepam detox, although your symptoms will be most intense during the second week.

What Happens During Stimulant Detox?

During stimulant detox, you will meet with a physician or treatment advisor to decide on the most suitable course of treatment. During detoxification, all substances will be cleared from your system, with stimulants eliminated relatively quickly, depending on your dose and frequency of use.

Why Should I Enter a Stimulant Detox Programme?

The medical complications that may occur during stimulant detox are usually not life-threatening. The main symptoms are mood fluctuations and agitation. Stimulant withdrawal causes physical manifestations, which may be limited to fatigue and a general lack of energy. However, psychological symptoms of stimulant withdrawal may be unbearable for you, and might require professional help to ensure your safe recovery. In addition, treatment plans in a stimulant detox programme will usually be tailored to meet your individual needs.

When Will I Stop Craving Diazepam?

When you attempt to stop using diazepam, you could experience powerful cravings and other withdrawal symptoms that may contribute to a lengthy and difficult withdrawal process. Cravings can also last a long time even after treatment. Even though your cravings may not be completely eliminated after detox and treatment, there are strategies to help reduce in number and make them easier to overcome. Diazepam treatment and rehabilitation centres can teach you techniques to cope with cravings and prevent relapse. These strategies will be extremely useful, long after you have completed rehab treatment.

Can Anyone Tell I’m Using Diazepam?

When you’re using or abusing diazepam, people around you may begin to notice unusual behaviours such as sleeping more, nodding off randomly, disappearing frequently or withdrawing from school or work commitments. You might also stop communicating with friends and loved ones, while your relationships could begin to decline. Furthermore, others may notice a decline in your performance at work or school, in addition to noticeable changes in your health and overall appearance.

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