Employers want to know that you will be reliable, on time, and ready for work each day. One way they ensure that is to ask prospective employees to take a drug test.

If you’ve recently stopped taking a medication, or if you’re in recovery, you might want to know how long the drugs will show up in a drug test.

If you are taking a prescription drug, you can usually let the testing facility know so they can make a note. They probably won’t count it as a false positive. But do you need to tell them about a drug you took a few days ago or a few weeks ago?

Valium is the oldest and among the most common benzodiazepine medications that are used to treat insomnia, anxiety, and seizures. If you take this prescription, or if you’ve taken it in the past, learn more about how your body processes the drug and how long it can be detected in a drug test.

How Does Your Body Process Valium?

When you take Valium by mouth, it first enters your bloodstream through your metabolism. Somewhere around 76 percent of the drug makes it past your digestive system and into your blood. It also passes through the liver where your blood is being filtered.

doctor-performing-valium-in-urine-test-and-valium-drug-test-on-sampleValium is broken down into a few active metabolites through metabolism, including temazepam, oxazepam, and desmethyldiazepam. That means through your body’s metabolism; the drug is broken into new chemicals that also have effects on your brain and body. These metabolites are ultimately the chemicals that can be detected in drug tests.

Once Valium or its metabolites reach your brain, you will start to feel its effects. It’s GABAergic, which means that it affects a chemical messenger in the brain called gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA. It binds to GABA receptors and increases the effectiveness of the brain chemical, which is responsible for limiting excitability in the brain. Valium binds to these receptors and causes more pronounced effects like drowsiness, sedation, muscle relaxation, and anti-anxiety.

Valium has an elimination half-life between 20 and 100 hours with an average of 50 hours. That means it usually takes about 50 hours before the drug is reduced to half of its original concentration in your blood. The half-life is often a good indication of how long it takes for your body to process chemicals.

When a drug reaches its half-life, it will probably start to become less and less effective. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s left your body entirely. It’s worth noting that Valium’s metabolite desmethyldiazepam has a longer half-life of between 36 and 200 hours.

As your body processes the drug, it’s filtered out by your kidneys. However, drugs can travel throughout the body, and it lasts longer in some places than others. Some chemicals can attach to your hair follicles and even the melanin that gives your hair its color.

The Type of Drug Test Matters

woman-performing-a-valium-saliva-testThe most common way to test for recent drug use is a urine test. Most substances are processed and exit your body through urination. But that’s not the only way to test for drugs, and the method you experience can make a big difference as to whether or not your test will be positive or negative.

Chemicals can show up in your saliva, blood, urine, and your hair, and there are tests for all of these. However, chemicals may not show up in one test and continue to show up in another.

Here’s a breakdown of each of the tests and how long Valium can be detected in them.


Valium can be detected in the blood for up to 48 hours. Your body is pretty good at filtering your blood, so a blood test usually has the shortest window to catch drug use. Plus, blood tests are more invasive than other options, so it’s unlikely that this is the method you will go through. The presence of a chemical in your blood could mean that it has been affecting you recently, so it’s more commonly used in toxicology screens.


Valium may only be found in saliva for about three days. Saliva seems like an inconsequential liquid that’s there to keep you from dry mouth, but it serves many functions. It helps to sanitize your mouth, it helps you digest, and it even contains your DNA. Chemicals that make it into your bloodstream can also show up in your saliva. Saliva tests are growing in popularity because they can be administered quickly in an office setting and are a little less invasive (and awkward) than urine tests. However, these tests are a little less reliable.


Valium can be detected in urine for up to six weeks after your last dose. A urine test is non-invasive, and most drugs exit through urine, so this is the most common test. Urine tests don’t have the longest lasting window of time to catch drug use. However, it is more reliable than other methods and may produce fewer false positives and negatives.


Valium could show up in hair follicle testing for up to 90 days. Hair tests aren’t extremely common, but they may have the longest window of time to catch drug use. Valium metabolites can make their way to blood vessels in the scalp before and then to hair follicles. Many people object to hair follicle testing because it does not reflect current drug use. A person could have gone through the full continuum of care in addiction treatment and still have drug chemicals in their hair.

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