08 Feb How Long Does Valium Stay in Your System?
How long Valium stays in your system depends on a lot of factors, both pertaining to the individual as well as the drug itself and the amount taken. We’ll go over each of those, but first, you need to understand how Valium works.
What is Valium intended to treat?
Valium, also known by its generic name, diazepam, is an anti-anxiety drug. One of several popular benzodiazepines, more than three million Americans currently use Valium medically and much more abuse it illegally.
Valium is most commonly prescribed to treat anxiety, restless leg syndrome, insomnia, seizures, muscle spasms and alcohol withdrawal syndrome. Sometimes it is even used to calm or sedate patients prior to surgery or other invasive medical procedures.
Valium and other benzodiazepines (benzos) were developed and promoted as a replacement for barbiturates–another class of sedative and anti-anxiety drugs which are considered to be highly addictive and dangerous. At its peak in 1978, 2.3 billion tablets of Valium were sold. But the addictive potential of benzos was also soon realized when people started experiencing withdrawal from drugs like Valium and Xanax, and even dying from an overdose.
Generally, medical institutions still consider Valium to be an important and effective drug. However, it is often abused and can be highly addictive. When abused for a long enough period of time, Valium addiction can eventually lead to serious health problems.
Benzos like Valium are central nervous system depressants that slow the respiratory system. Mixing the drug with other depressants like alcohol, can cause an individual to overdose and stop breathing, which can lead to a coma, brain damage and even death.
Valium is classified internationally as a Schedule IV controlled substance under the Convention of Psychotropic Substances. These restrictions make it more difficult to obtain a prescription and also restrict the number of prescriptions that doctors can even give out. But recreational use continues. Valium is usually dispensed in pill form, but it can be crushed to be snorted or melted into a solution to inject. When injected, Valium’s effects take as little as a minute to appear and last for about an hour.
Despite its therapeutic benefits when used properly under medical supervision, long-term usage could even lead to dementia and memory loss. Ongoing usage could affect your school and/or work performance and impair your ability to operate a motor vehicle.
For these reasons, many people may decide to stop using Valium and wish to clear it from their system. But there are several factors that influence how long it will take to rid your body of the drug.
If you are seeking help for an addiction to Valium or any other benzodiazepine, call us today at 678-293-9115 to speak with an addiction specialist about treatment options.
So… How long does Valium stay in your system?
In general, the elimination half-life of Valium is around 43 hours, and 40 to 100 hours for its metabolite, nordiazepam. Therefore it takes most people between 10 and 23 days to completely eliminate Valium from their system. That being said, the list of individual factors below will help you determine where you lie on the timeline to be completely clean.
What factors affect how long Valium will stay in your system?
In general, Valium has a fairly long elimination half-life–which is the amount of time it takes for half of a substance to leave the system. There are several variables involved with how long it will take Valium to be flushed out of the body. They include:
- Liver function
- Body mass/Body fat
- Length of usage
- Dosage and frequency
- Other drugs in the system
Your liver (hepatic) function is perhaps the most prominent variable to consider when determining how long Valium will stay in your system. If your liver function is impaired, it will take much longer to get Valium out of your system. Research shows that the half-life of Valium increased five times in those with decreased liver function compared to healthy adults.
The study was conducted on patients with cirrhosis and found a 164-hour half-life compared to 32-hours in the otherwise healthy participants. This means it could take roughly 38 days for someone with poor liver function to eliminate Valium from their body, or longer.
Two individuals with similar liver function may take the same dosage of Valium at the same time, yet one may get rid of the drug from their system faster than the other. This is because of a few individual factors, including a person’s age, body mass, food intake, genetics and gender.
A user’s age can have a large impact on the drug’s elimination half-life. On average, it will take patients that are over the age of 65 twice as long as younger adults to eliminate the drug from their system.
There are several reasons for this, including reduced albumin levels, diminished hepatic blood flow, various health conditions, the administration of other medications and an increased diazepam-plasma distribution. Some estimates say that the half-life of Valium is approximately 20 hours at 20 years of age, and increases by one hour for each year thereafter (e.g. 30 years old = 30-hour half-life).
The half-life of Valium also differs among infants, with full-term infants exhibiting 30-hour half-lives and premature infants exhibiting 54-hour half-lives. This is due to the underdeveloped metabolic pathways of premature infants, which lead to greater accumulation of the drug.
Body Mass/Body Fat (%)
A person’s body mass and percentage body fat can influence how long Valium stays in their system. When compared in studies, obese individuals are found to have a longer elimination half-life than non-obese persons, by a difference of 82 hours to 32 hours, respectively. It takes obese individuals 19 days to clear the drug from plasma, versus 8 days for non-obese participants. Therefore it’s determined that if you have a high percentage of body fat, Valium will be distributed further in your body and stay in your system for much longer than a smaller person.
Valium is metabolized by various enzymes in the liver that are influenced by genetics. Those that have reduced function in these enzymes are more likely to take longer to eliminate the drug, while those with optimally functioning enzymes may get rid of the drug more quickly.
Length of Usage
It will take longer for someone who has used Valium over a long period of time to eliminate the drug from your body. Long-term usage means more diazepam has been accumulated in your body, along with its metabolites. If a person has only been using Valium for a short period of time, less of the diazepam and metabolites will be in the body, and make for quicker excretion.
Those that haven’t used the drug for very long also may never reach peak concentrations of Valium throughout their system, especially if the drug is administered infrequently or intermittently. Meanwhile, long-term, consistent users reach quickly and continuously increase that peak via dosage increases and the frequent usage of the drug. An increased dosages and a greater frequency of usage among long-term users both will lead to a less efficient elimination process.
Dosage and Frequency
A person’s dosage and frequency of usage can both influence how long Valium will stay in your system. A single 10 mg dose will take longer to fully metabolize and excrete it than a 0.5 mg dose. This is because a larger dose places a greater burden on your liver, which leads to a slower breakdown of the drug. Larger dosages also accumulate the drug further throughout the body. This increased accumulation prolongs Valium’s elimination half-life.
You also need to keep the frequency of usage in mind. Someone taking a single dose of Valium will eliminate it quicker than a person taking it several times throughout the day. This is for similar reasons: With each successive dose, Valium accumulates further into the body. So the more doses you take, the longer it will remain in your system.
Other Drugs in the System
Using other drugs at the same time as Valium can influence how long it stays in your system. Other drugs can inhibit the enzymes you need to metabolize Valium, which keeps the drug in your system longer. Enzyme inhibitors include Chloramphenicol, Luvox, Moclobemide, Prozac, Clarithromycin, Cobicistat, Indinavir, Ketoconazole and Ritonavir.
On the other hand, other drugs like Artemisinin, Aspirin, Carbamazepine, Norethisterone, Prednisone, Rifampicin, Carbamazepine, Oxcarbazepine, Phenytoin, Rifampicin and St. John’s wort induce enzyme activity and may actually expedite the elimination process. The degree to which they help may depend on the specific drug administered, as well as the dosage.
But of course, there are even more factors to consider, such as what type of test will be administered.
Blood tests are thought to be the most accurate tests for Valium usage. A blood sample can give levels of diazepam and its metabolites, especially if the person is a frequent user. Because the drug accumulates within the bloodstream when taken repeatedly over time, it can be easily detected in a blood test.
Blood tests are typically administered for elderly or in situations where a person is being investigated for Valium abuse.
A urine test will not easily detect Valium specifically, but it is capable of identifying metabolites that exist in the drug. Concentrations of these metabolites remain detectable for different amounts of time based on the individual. For some, they may be detectable for just a few days after ingestion, while for others they may be detected for weeks. Urine tests are the most commonly used drug tests for Valium.
A hair test is another effective method for determining whether someone has ingested Valium. In this test, a sample of hair follicles, usually from the head, is taken and sent to a laboratory for analysis. Valium may remain detectable in the hair for up to three months after it is taken.
Because of the hair test’s accuracy in estimating Valium ingestion over a long period of time, this method is often utilized by law enforcement to detect abuse and/or illicit usage among criminals.
An oral sample is an easy method for testing for Valium. On average, a saliva test can detect Valium or its metabolites for seven to nine days after the last dose of the drug was taken. Larger doses will be easier to detect via an oral sample. However, saliva tests are generally thought to be less reliable and only done when the proper laboratory detection methods are present.
So as you can see, how long Valium stays in your system is just part of why it might show up on a drug test.
How to get Valium out of your system
If you have an upcoming test that you know of, or suspect you might, or even if you just want to speed up the process of eliminating it from your system, there are some things you can do. But of course, consult a medical professional before moving forward with any of these suggestions to ensure your safety.
Stop using Valium: The easiest way to make sure Valium stops accumulating within your body is to stop taking it. Seems obvious, right? However, depending on your level and length of usage, quitting should always be done under supervision and guidance of a professional.
Exercise: As mentioned earlier, Valium stays in the system of obese individuals longer than those who are not. Burning body fat can be a good way to speed up the elimination of the drug, especially if you are obese.
Drink water: Hydration can help eliminate diazepam completely from your body as quickly as possible. Staying hydrated will increase your urinary flow rate, which will help eliminate diazepam from your body, since it is excreted through your kidneys.
Use supplements: Any supplements that boost liver and/or renal function can help excrete Valium from your system. Some can expedite your metabolism and are designed to help clear out your final dose. A supplement like activated charcoal can help flush out any excess remnants of diazepam and/or metabolites following your last dose. Make sure you talk to a doctor before taking any supplements after discontinuing the consumption of Valium.
Take these things into mind when you’re trying to rid your system of Valium. It’s a process that takes a varying length of time, and there is only so much you can do to help the process along.