How long does Valium stay in your system?

The time taken for the drug in its entirety to leave the system is approximately 10 days. However, the metabolites (components created while liver breaks down the drug) take approximately 23 days to get eliminated from the body for a young healthy individual.

Valium (diazepam) is a benzodiazepine prescribed to relieve anxiety, insomnia, treat seizure disorders, treat restless leg syndrome, calm muscle spasms, manage alcohol withdrawal symptoms and even used to calm and sedate people before surgery. It is a very popular and effective drug when administered in the right dosages under medical supervision. 1

Benzodiazepine is a central nervous system depressant that slows the respiratory system. An overdose or combining it with other depressants can cause an individual to stop breathing leading to coma, brain damage and death.

It is important to understand how long Valium stays in your system because

  • Side effects – Having too much of the drug can cause side effects including tremors, seizures, fever, severe rash, shortness of breath, swallowing difficulties, yellowness of skin or eyes.
  • Addictive nature and long term effects – After having Valium for some period of time, human body develops a tolerance for the drug. This means larger doses are required to get the same effects received initially and this may eventually lead to addiction. Studies have found that prolonged use of Valium in high doses are associated with a high risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease 2 and have also been linked to disruption of REM sleep and depression.
  • Potential life threatening effects due to interactions with other drugs – It’s dangerous to take sleeping pills, sedatives, tranquilizers or even consume alcohol before Valium is totally cleared from the body.

How long does Valium stay in your system?

This is different for everyone and it depends on a person’s metabolism, weight, age, body fat, other drugs taken, activity levels, hydration level, liver and kidney health, overall health and also the frequency, method of ingestion and dosage of Valium taken.

The elimination half life (time taken for half of the dose to exit the body) of Valium is 30-56 hours. i.e. on an average, the time taken for the drug in its entirety to leave the system is approximately 10 days for a young healthy individual. 3 However, the liver breaks down the drug into different compounds (metabolites) and these metabolites can last in the body even longer. The most prominent metabolite of Valium is nordiazepam which has an elimination half life of 40-100 hours. 4 This means complete elimination of the drug and its metabolites take approximately 23 days for a young healthy individual.

Major factors that effect elimination half life of Valium

Liver function is a key factor in determining how long the drug stays in one’s body. It is seen that individuals with reduced liver functions take substantially longer to get rid of the drug from their body. For example, a person with Liver Cirrhosis may take 38 days to get rid of Valium in the serum and  over 45 days to get rid of the metabolite nordiazepam. 5

Age is another key factor. Elderly patients may take 2X more time to get Valium out of their body. i.e. approx 20 days for the drug and 46 days for metabolite nordiazepam. 6

For full term infants, the drug is seen to take 60 hours to exit the system and for premature infants, due to the incomplete maturation of the metabolic pathways the drug takes approximately 108 hours to exit the system. 7

Some sources also indicate that the half life of Valium is directly dependent on the age. i.e. a 20 year old healthy adult will have a 20 hour half-life.

Body Fat – Valium has higher elimination half life in people with higher fat content. Research shows it can take atleast twice the time to get rid of Valium from a body with higher fat percentage. 8

Dosage and history of intake – People using Valium for a prolonged period of time will have a much greater elimination half life.

Warning – Discontinuing Valium use

Due to potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms, discontinuing Valium needs to be conducted under medical supervision. Abrupt discontinuation from a high dosage can even be fatal!

  1. Diazepam PubChem – NCBI. Accessed December 20, 2017.

  2. Yaffe K, Boustani M. Benzodiazepines and risk of Alzheimer’s disease. BMJ. 2014;349(sep09 6):g5312-g5312. doi:10.1136/bmj.g5312.

  3. How Long Does Valium Stay in Your System Accessed December 27, 2017.

  4. VALIUM Accessed December 27, 2017.

  5. D A. Pharmacokinetics of diazepam in disordered liver function PubMed – NCBI. Accessed December 20, 2017.

  6. RJ Wills. Pharmacokinetics of diazepam from a controlled release capsule in healthy elderly volunteers. 1984. Accessed December 27, 2017.

  7. VALIUM RX List Accessed December 27, 2017.

  8. Abernethy DR e. Prolonged accumulation of diazepam in obesity. 1983. Accessed December 27, 2017.

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