Tapering Valium is safer and often more effective than trying to quit cold turkey. Following a taper, a person can progress through treatment and towards full recovery.

Millions of Valium pills are created and dispensed as prescriptions annually. Valium, also known by its medical label diazepam, is part of a set of sedative drugs called the benzodiazepines. These central-nervous-system tranquilizers quell any number of neurological issues. While Valium is not a cure per se, it is used to treat sleep abnormalities, alcohol withdrawal, spasms and more.

If this weren’t enough, Valium fills another role — lessening withdrawals from other benzodiazepines (also referred to as benzos). The drug can be 10 times weaker than other benzos and takes days to leave the body entirely. For someone suffering from a Valium substance use disorder, this is encouraging news. Valium just so happens to be one of the most straightforward benzos to detox from. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that the process will not come with tribulations or setbacks. Whenever drugs are concerned, especially with benzos that have dangerous withdrawals, there is always an element of ambiguity and risk involved.

When a patient, recreational user, or their families feel as though the time to quit Valium has come, a medical taper might just be the solution they are looking for. A taper, as the name suggests, is a gradual weaning of Valium use over weeks and months. Using a Valium taper schedule as a guide map, those who may abuse Valium can get their journey of self-rediscovery underway.

Valium Taper

Every person who uses Valium has their rationale for wanting to give the drug up. Likewise, their physician has a reason of their own as to why they would choose a Valium taper over another method. Tapering allows the body to self-correct and get accustomed to what it was like for the user months or years before they used Valium at all. On top of this, tapers are the opposite of withdrawals — meaning going through a taper regimen allows a patient to experience little to no withdrawal symptoms. This has a huge appeal, especially when considering that only alcohol withdrawals are more dangerous than benzodiazepine withdrawals.

There is another motive for choosing a Valium taper. “Going cold turkey” has become a ubiquitous term used in all circles of discussion on the subject matter of drugs. Despite its notoriety, this approach lacks medical backing. Choosing to follow a Valium taper schedule makes a statement. It says that a person who uses Valium is willing and dedicated to achieving their drug cessation goals. This isn’t to say that someone who goes cold turkey is not. Many individuals simply do not know that this method is rife with cons. Cold turkey detoxes remove safeguards and support structures that are inherent to taper inside a rehabilitation center or under a doctor’s care. Quitting Valium outright may be dangerous, but it isn’t impossible. In would be incorrect to say going about a detox in this manner is doomed from the start — people can and have done it, by the thousands — but it certainly pales in comparison to tapers and other clinical methods which are in a realm of success all their own.

Additionally, going cold turkey leaves a user predisposed to each and every benzo withdrawal symptom, such as:

  • Irritability
  • Trembling or spasms
  • Reduced motor functions
  • Chronic headaches
  • Nausea
  • Insomnia
  • Psychosis
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Seizures

Valium Taper Schedule

Valium can be used to lessen the effects of some withdrawals. To put this more accurately, it is used as a substitute drug for someone looking to overcome use disorders od addictions to other benzos. Valium is a long-acting benzodiazepine. Drugs like Xanax and Ativan, on the other hand, are short acting. The difference here is the amount of time the drug spends in the system. Xanax and Ativan are purged quickly, meaning a person may need another dose within hours after the last one or withdrawal symptoms could onset. This isn’t as often the case for Valium. This benzo can be in the body for dozens of hours after being ingested — allowing doses to come less frequently and withdrawals to be suppressed because of it. Thus, Valium is the go-to taper benzo. Physicians will quite often transition their patients to it for the remainder of their detox.

A Valium taper by itself requires dose reductions of 5 percent, 10 percent, or 25 percent every week of a patient’s scheduled rehabilitation. A 25 percent taper example can be found below.

  • Week 1: The patient enters clinical care and prepares for their treatment. They are provided with their typical daily dose of Valium. No reductions take place at this time.
  • Week 2: Valium dose is reduced down by 25%
  • Week 3: Valium dose reduced down by another 25%
  • Week 4: 50% is sustained.
  • Weeks 5 – 8: 50% is sustained for four weeks.
  • Week nine and beyond: Dose taken down by subsequent 25% intervals until withdrawal symptoms no longer arise in the absence of the drug

Following their taper, a person can progress through the rest of their inpatient and outpatient treatment programs on their path toward full recovery.

Benzodiazepines like Valium can be a challenge to overcome. If you or someone you know is struggling to taper off drugs or alcohol alone, contact The Recovery Village  for more information on professional rehabilitation programs. Call  855-995-2334 today to speak with a representative who can give you more information, or enroll you in a program at one of The Recovery Village’s premier locations throughout the country.

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Editor – Jonathan Strum
Jonathan Strum graduated from the University of Nebraska Omaha with a Bachelor's in Communication in 2017 and has been writing professionally ever since. Read more
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Medically Reviewed By – Dr. Jessica Pyhtila, PharmD
Dr. Jessica Pyhtila is a Clinical Pharmacy Specialist based in Baltimore, Maryland with practice sites in inpatient palliative care and outpatient primary care at the Department of Veteran Affairs. Read more

Drugs.com. “Valium.” October 22, 2021. Accessed November 11, 2021.

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. “Benzodiazepine Risks.” October 2016. Accessed November 11, 2021.

National Center for PTSD. “Effective Treatments for PTSD: Helping P[…]from Benzodiazepines.” 2015. Accessed November 11, 2021.

PsychDB. “Sedative, Hypnotic, or Anxiolytic (Benzo[…]iazepine) Withdrawal.” March 29, 2021. Accessed November 11, 2021.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village 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.