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How Long Does Valium Stay in Your System?

by Will Long

August 15, 2023
valium pills being spilled on a table

Valium takes up to a week to clear completely from the average adult body. The drug, diazepam, is its generic name, and it belongs to the class of benzodiazepines. Doctors often prescribe it to manage the following conditions:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Muscle spasms
  • Seizures

Understanding how long Valium remains in the system and the factors that may affect its presence is crucial, which this blog will explore.

What is Valium?

Valium is a prescription medication, and its generic name is diazepam. It belongs to the class of benzodiazepines and acts as a central nervous system depressant. That means the drug affects the brain’s neurotransmitters, providing a calming effect that could make users feel high and is widely used to manage conditions such as anxiety disorders, muscle spasms, and seizures.

It enhances the effects of a specific neurotransmitter, GABA, resulting in relaxation and reduced nerve activity. Healthcare professionals must prescribe Valium in various forms, including tablets and injections. While it offers significant therapeutic benefits, it poses potential side effects and risks, particularly if misused or taken without proper medical guidance.

Valium’s Half-Life

Valium has a relatively long half-life, varying significantly between individuals. The half-life represents the time it takes for the concentration of the drug in the body to reduce by half. Valium’s half-life typically ranges around 30 to 56 hours for healthy adults.

However, the metabolite desmethyldiazepam, which the body converts Valium into, has an even longer half-life of 30 to 100 hours. This means the body takes significant time to eliminate this version. These times may be even longer in older adults or individuals with liver problems.

Since the body typically takes about 5 to 7 half-lives to eliminate a drug, Valium can take 150 to 700 hours to clear fully.

History of Valium

The history of Valium begins in the late 1950s and early 1960s when Dr. Leo Sternbach, a chemist at the pharmaceutical company Hoffman-La Roche, discovered the compound. The discovery was part of a broader search for safer, more effective alternatives to existing sedative and anxiolytic drugs, which often caused severe side effects and had addiction potential.

Valium entered the market in 1963, quickly becoming one of the most prescribed medications in the world. Its efficacy in treating a wide range of conditions, from anxiety to insomnia, without many problems associated with previous treatments like barbiturates contributed to its success.

However, concerns began to emerge about the potential for addiction and misuse of Valium by the late 1970s and early 1980s. Reports of dependency led to increased regulations and a reevaluation of prescribing practices. While still widely used, the prescription of Valium became more controlled, with greater awareness of the potential risks and a focus on responsible use. Diazepam became a Schedule IV controlled substance in 1975.

The development and history of Valium reflect a complex interplay of scientific innovation, commercial success, societal need, and evolving understanding of addiction and pharmacology. Its legacy continues to shape modern psychiatry and the pharmaceutical industry, illustrating the ongoing challenge of balancing therapeutic benefits with potential risks.

What Does Valium Treat?

Valium treats several medical conditions, including anxiety disorders like Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and panic disorders. Its calming effects also make it suitable for treating muscle spasms, whether chronic, as in conditions like cerebral palsy, or temporary due to injuries. Valium also plays a role in treating seizure disorders, including epilepsy and severe or prolonged seizures known as Status Epilepticus. By addressing these various ailments, Valium serves as a versatile therapeutic option, provided it is used under careful medical supervision.

Detection Times by Testing Method

  • Blood Test: You can detect Valium in the blood within 6-48 hours after the last dose.
  • Urine Test: Typically, you can find it in urine for up to 1-6 weeks after the last dose.
  • Saliva Test: You may detect Valium in saliva within 1-10 days after the last dose.
  • Hair Test: You might detect Valium in hair follicles for up to 90 days or even longer.

Factors Influencing Valium’s Presence in the System

  • Age: Older individuals might have a longer elimination time.
  • Metabolism: A slower metabolism can increase the time Valium stays in the system.
  • Liver and Kidney Function: Impaired liver or kidney function can slow down the elimination process.
  • Dosage and Frequency: Higher doses or frequent use may result in longer detection times.
  • Other Medications: Certain medications can interact with Valium, affecting how quickly it is metabolized.

Side Effects and Precautions

Valium can cause a variety of side effects, both common and serious. The most common include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Muscle weakness

These side effects are typically manageable but might affect daily activities. More serious side effects include:

  • Depression
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Memory problems
  • Dependence and addiction risks

If you or someone you love use Valium, consider its interaction with alcohol, its potential effects on pregnancy and breastfeeding, and the risk of driving or operating heavy machinery. Considering any allergies or possible interactions with other medications is also vital. Taking these precautions can help mitigate risks and promote the safe use of Valium.

Valium Addiction Symptoms

Valium addiction presents a multifaceted problem with the following symptoms:

  • Physical
  • Behavioral
  • Emotional


Physically, Valium addiction might manifest as a growing tolerance, dangerous withdrawal symptoms when not taking the drug, and overall physical dependence.


The behavioral symptoms might include an obsession with obtaining the medication, neglecting responsibilities, and even engaging in illegal activities to secure more Valium.


Emotionally, Valium addiction might manifest as mood swings, moving between euphoria when on the medication and depression or anxiety when it wears off, or denial of the problem altogether.

Recognizing these symptoms is crucial for early intervention, as treating Valium addiction requires professional treatment, including therapy, support groups, and possibly medical detox. Treatment aims to help individuals understand their addiction, develop coping strategies, and ultimately lead a healthy, Valium-free life.

Importance of Understanding Valium in the System

Misuse of Valium can result in addiction and various health problems. Understanding how long Valium remains in the system can help individuals manage it responsibly under healthcare professionals’ supervision. Moreover, this understanding is essential for those undergoing drug testing for employment or legal reasons.

Learn more about Valium at the National Library of Medicine’s online collection of medical papers.

Get Help Today

Valium’s presence in the system varies widely among individuals, so understanding the factors that influence its detection is essential. If you or someone you know struggles with an addiction to Valium or other substances, help is available. Landmark Recovery is here to provide support and personalized care throughout the recovery journey. Contact us today at 888-448-0302 and take the first step towards a healthy and fulfilling life.

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About the Author

Will Long

Will Long

A graduate of Middle Tennessee State University, Long has been a writer for Landmark Recovery since 2021. He specializes in research and writing about substance abuse from a scientific and social perspective. Unearthing information from underexplored, far-flung corners of the Internet, Long’s passion is finding emerging trends in substance use and treatment that the public should know about.