How Long Does it Take for Valium to Kick in?

Valium is one of the most popular medications to treat anxiety disorders, panic attacks, insomnia, and various other related substance abuse conditions.

If you’re prescribed valium by your doctor, you might be wondering, “How long does it take for Valium to kick in?”

Valium’s active ingredient is Diazepam, which is an anxiolytic drug from the Benzodiazepine family. Usually, Valium works around 15 to 60 minutes in order to go into full effect, although some factors may speed up or impact the effectiveness of the drug.

If you want to find out more about Valium’s onset of action and how long it lasts in your body, this guide will answer all of your questions!


What Does Valium Do to You?

Let’s start by having a quick look at Valium and its effect on you. Like other drugs from the Benzodiazepine family, Diazepam has an inhibitory or calming effect on the body and mind.

The drug increases the effectiveness of a brain chemical known as gamma-aminobutyric acid” or “GABA.

This brain chemical is a neurotransmitter responsible for inducing a sedated and tranquilized effect on the nervous system.

Besides sedation, activating GABA receptors also have a muscle-relaxant effect, which is why it’s also used as

  • Anticonvulsant in seizure treatment
  • Muscle relaxant to treat excessive tension and tremors
  • Sedative for insomnia
  • Short-term anxiety is caused by depression (usually in combination with antidepressants).

How Long Does Valium Take to Show Effects?

Although Diazepam is one of the most popular drugs in the Benzodiazepine family, it’s not exactly the fastest.

After taking your prescribed dose of valium, it should take anywhere between a few minutes and up to an hour for the drug to kick in.

You might be wondering why there’s a huge range in the drug’s onset of action. Well, that’s because Valium is affected by a variety of factors that have an impact on its speed.

Factors Affecting the Speed of Valium Effects

The biggest factor that influences the speed of Valium effects is the dosage form. Valium is available in both oral tablets, injections (Intravenous and Intramuscular), or rectal gels.

Ideally, injections are the fastest route of administering the drug, as it takes only 5 to 10 minutes to kick in.

Rectal gels are also relatively quick as they take 5 to 30 minutes to show their effect. Oral tablets are the slowest form, taking around 15 to 60 minutes to start working.

Besides dosage form, other aspects can also have an impact on Valium’s onset of action, which includes

  • Age, gender, and ethnicity
  • Bodyweight
  • Metabolic rate and conditions affecting it
  • Amount of Valium taken
  • Overall physical and mental health
  • Drug interactions
  • Frequency of use, Diazepam can cause dependence, which reduces its effectiveness at lower doses (more about that in the following sections)

When Should I Get Better After Using Valium?

The effectiveness of Valium is highly dependent on what you’re using it for, which is why your doctor will prescribe Valium for a specific time depending on your condition.

For example, if you’re taking valium to alleviate symptoms of mild anxiety, you should feel the difference as soon as the treatment kicks in, but it’ll come into full effect after a week.

The same applies to other indications like muscle spasms and seizures, which takes around a few days to come into full effect as well.

How Long Do Valium Effects Last?

Although other Benzodiazepine derivatives like Lorazepam (Ativan) are faster than Valium, the latter has the advantage of staying in effect for a while longer.

Diazepam reaches peach plasma concentration within 60 to 90 minutes of taking the drug and breaking it down into active metabolites.

It then valium lasts in effect for up to 24 hours, and its effectiveness may extend with repeating doses.


How Long Does It Take Valium to Leave Your System?

The active ingredient of Valium (Diazepam) has an average half-life of around 46 hours.

However, when Valium is metabolized in the liver, it’s converted into desmethyldiazepam, which has a much longer half-life time of around 100 hours.

The effect of Valium wears off anywhere between 30 to 60 hours after the last dose, but it could still be detected by analysis.

For example, urine analysis may detect Valium and its metabolites for up to 3 to 4 weeks after the last dose while a saliva test can detect it for only 7 to 9 days.

Keep in mind that hair follicles can build up traces of valium that remain detectable in tests for up to 90 days. Yet, it’s not the most accurate test.

All these numbers are subject to vary in the case of drug abuse and medical conditions affecting Valium metabolism.

How Long Should You Be Taking Valium?

Your doctor will only prescribe Valium if its benefits outweigh its severe side effects. Ideally, doctors prescribe Valium for short periods of up to 4 weeks.

This is because Valium can develop tolerance and addiction if taken for a long time. If your doctor prescribes it for longer, you’ll need to follow a dose reduction plan to avoid Diazepam withdrawal symptoms.

What Happens If You Keep Taking Valium?

Like other Benzodiazepines, Diazepam has highly addictive properties. For that reason, the drug is listed under Schedule IV of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

You should never try to take Valium on your own or consume it for long-term use than the treatment period.

Diazepam remains in your system much longer than regular drugs and may accumulate with time.

Misuse and abuse of Valium may lead to toxic overdose, which can be fatal and put you at risk of comas, lung collapse, and even death.

Similarly, stopping the treatment abruptly without dose adjustment could cause withdrawal problems.

Wrap Up

This marks the end of today’s guide about Valium and how long it takes to kick in. As you can see, Diazepam starts working anywhere between 5 to 60 minutes.

With that being said, you should only use Valium according to your doctor’s prescription and never increase or take higher doses, decrease, or stop the prescription drug treatment on your own.

Make sure that you contact your physician if you feel any discomfort or worsening side effects while taking Valium. Despite being a prescribed drug and having approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), high doses of Valium use or any other drug use may lead to serious health conditions that affect the user’s central nervous system, such as addiction, physical dependence, and other opioid use disorders. 

If you know someone who is suffering from substance abuse, reach out to a healthcare provider specializing in addiction treatment so that they will be able to tailor treatment programs or treatment options according to what they need.


TL;DR: Valium (diazepam) typically takes 15 to 60 minutes to kick in when taken orally.

Published on: 2023-02-27
Updated on: 2024-03-25