Valium can stay in the system for longer than most people think because it has a fairly long half life. While the acute effects of Valium only last for a matter of hours, the drug itself can take a few days to process through the body completely.
In addition to this, certain liver metabolites are created when the body is processing Valium, and many urine and drug tests will attempt to detect this metabolite rather than the drug itself. As such, these metabolites from the interaction with Valium can be detected for several weeks after the drug is actually taken.
What you need to be aware of more than anything else is the safety factor when it comes to a drug such as Valium, and other drugs in the same class such as Xanax, Klonopin, Librium, Ativan, and so on. Such drugs are potentially dangerous because they depress the system, slow the breathing down, and can lead to some serious complications if you are abusing them.
This is especially true when it comes to interactions with alcohol. But before we get into that, let’s take a look at how the typical alcoholic ends up using such a dangerous drug combination in the first place.
Now the pattern I will describe here is not going to be accurate for every person, but it is definitely a common pattern, and you should be aware of it regardless. The pattern is this: An alcoholic is struggling due to their excessive drinking, and so they decide to cut back or their family pressures them to cut back. Upon cutting back on their drinking or quitting entirely, the alcoholic experiences withdrawal symptoms, one of which is typically anxiety. In addition to the fact that anxiety is a very common withdrawal system when stopping alcohol, many alcoholics are actually self medicating by drinking every day due to their anxiety that they have anyway.
In other words, the anxiety could come from at least two different sources. One is from the withdrawal symptom of quitting or reducing alcohol intake. The second could be innate anxiety that may have even preceded the alcohol use, and the alcoholic has been self medicating with alcohol as a result of this.
In either case, when the alcoholic stops drinking or reduces their intake, they get anxiety as a symptom. And often times, an alcoholic will reduce their drinking or quit entirely if they have to go see their doctor for an appointment. Maybe they have a physical, or maybe they are going to see their doctor for other reasons, but most us know better than to show up to the doctor’s office intoxicated. There is also a shame factor in that we know we are going to be talking about our health, so we make an effort to be healthier by reducing our drinking, even if it is only in the short term.
This is the situation that happens all too often: The alcoholic has quit or reduced their alcohol intake before going to see their doctor. So when the doctor inevitably asks them if they are experiencing any anxiety lately, they most certainly say yes. And when the doctor asks them how much alcohol they typically consume, the alcoholic attempts to minimize, and they severely under report their consumption or outright lie about it. Again, there is a shame factor involved with this that is very common.
Most doctors at this point will prescribe anxiety medication, which often takes the form of something like Xanax or Valium. This medication may be effective in the short term for the struggling alcoholic, especially if they take it as directed and they are not yet combining it with alcohol. Eventually, however, they will reach a point where they incidentally end up drinking after they have taken some of their anxiety medication, and this creates a very dangerous situation going forward.
What happens when you depress the body’s nervous system, either with alcohol or with Valium or with both, is that the body attempts to compensate for the depressing affect of the chemicals. In order to do this your body will simply pump out more adrenaline in order to keep your system functioning as normally as possible. Note that your body is simply trying to maintain equilibrium. If you pour on a depressant then it will compensate by stimulating itself with adrenaline.
Why is this so dangerous? Because when you combine a drug like Valium and alcohol, the body has to produce a lot of extra adrenaline to keep you from going into a coma. If you continue to take anxiety medication while drinking alcohol on top of it, you are conditioning your body to produce a massive amount of extra adrenaline in order to stimulate your nervous system. It has to do this just to keep you alive and functioning.
So the really dangerous part occurs when you stop putting those depressants into your body. Suddenly the body is overwhelmed with extra adrenaline and the nervous system is seriously overstimulated and it has no outlet. The result is often seizures and sometimes even death can result.
Now you may say “this is not a problem as long as I keep taking the medication and drinking.” Partially true, but that is not exactly a safe solution in the long run. Everyone goes through dry spells eventually. Even the most chronic alcoholic will eventually have a day or two in which they simply cannot get to more alcohol, whether this is due to incarceration, or illness, or whatever the case may be. And when that moment comes there is going to be serious risk in terms of withdrawal symptoms.
By themselves, both Valium withdrawal and alcohol withdrawal both carry a certain amount of risk. But when combining the two, the situation becomes substantially more dangerous by several factors. Be aware of these risk factors and get the help that you need from a professional treatment center.