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3 minutes

Xanax® vs. Valium®: Key Similarities and Differences

Medically Reviewed
Last Medically Reviewed on: November 30, 2022
xanax v valium

Updated on

30 Nov, 2022

Key Points

  • Both Xanax® and Valium® are benzodiazepines, but have key differences
  • Xanax® and Valium® have high risk for abuse, but certain factors may increase the risk of Xanax® abuse
  • Taking both Xanax® and Valium® long term increase the risk of dependence and addiction
  • Although these medications may be used to treat certain types of addiction, there is a risk for developing a dependence 
  • Treatment is available for Xanax® or Valium® addiction

Xanax® and Valium® are both benzodiazepines used to treat anxiety disorders and other ailments. Although these drugs work in similar ways, there are key differences.

You should not switch from Xanax® to Valium® or from Valium® to Xanax® without speaking to your healthcare provider first, as these drugs are not always interchangeable.

Here’s what you should know about the similarities and differences between Xanax® vs. Valium®.

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What is Xanax®? What is Valium®?

Xanax® (generic name alprazolam) This medication is typically prescribed in the treatment of panic disorders, anxiety disorders, and in some cases, sleeping disorders.

Valium® is a brand name for the drug diazepam, which is used primarily in the treatment of anxiety disorders, muscle spasms, and sometimes seizure disorders.

Xanax® vs. Valium®: Similarities and Differences

Xanax® and Valium® fall under the same drug class benzodiazepines and work in similar ways to enhance the effects of certain neurotransmitters [1] in the brain that help to reduce anxiety. Both medications are classified as Schedule IV controlled substances due to their potential for abuse and dependence.

Although these drugs are often prescribed to treat similar conditions, there are key differences between the two drugs [2]: potency, onset and duration. Xanax® is more potent, has a faster onset of action and a shorter duration of action than Valium®.

Xanax® vs. Valium®: Addiction Potential

Xanax® and Valium® can cause addiction, especially with long-term use or misuse. However, Xanax® takes effect more quickly, wears off more quickly, and causes a more intense effect than Valium®. This may contribute to a higher risk of abuse, although both drugs have the potential for misuse and addiction.

Both drugs are classified as Schedule IV controlled substances by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) [3].

What are the Potential Side Effects of Xanax® and Valium®?

What are the Potential Side Effects of Xanax® and Valium®?

Both drugs can cause similar side effects. However, Xanax® is more likely to cause cognitive impairment or trouble with memory, and using Valium® is more likely to result in coordination difficulty or muscle weakness.

Some of the potential side effects of both Xanax® and Valium® include:

Common Side Effects

  • Changes in appetite
  • Constipation
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Dizziness/lightheadedness
  • Drowsiness/fatigue
  • Dry mouth
  • Headache
  • Memory problems
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Slurred speech
  • Vision changes such as blurred vision

Less Common Side Effects

  • Agitation
  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Difficulty walking or balancing
  • Muscle weakness
  • Seizures
  • Tremors
  • Trouble sleeping

Rare But Serious and Potentially Life Threatening Effects

  • Allergic reactions (hives, swelling in the face, lips, tongue, or throat)
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Chest pain
  • Hallucinations
  • Heart palpitations
  • Memory loss or “blacking out”
  • Suicidal thoughts or ideations

If you or someone you know is experiencing serious side effects of taking Xanax® or Valium®, it is important to seek medical attention immediately.

Can Xanax® and Valium® Cause Withdrawal Symptoms?

Both Xanax® and Valium® can cause withdrawal symptoms upon abruptly stopping use. Withdrawal symptoms from both Xanax® and Valium® can include:

  • Anxiety/panic attacks
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia and restlessness
  • Intense sweating
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Tremors
  • Headaches
  • Muscle pain and stiffness

In more severe cases, Xanax® and Valium® can result in seizures. Withdrawal from these medications should be done under medical supervision, especially if the individual has been taking high doses or for an extended period of time.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some of the most frequently asked questions regarding these two medications.

Xanax® vs. Valium®: Which One is More Common?

In the United States, Xanax® is more commonly prescribed than Valium® due to its quick onset and shorter duration. Xanax® is commonly prescribed for acute anxiety and panic attacks, whereas Valium® is used for longer-term treatments.

Can You Take Xanax® and Valium® Together?

Combining Xanax® and Valium® can increase the risk of overdose or serious side effects. Do not take these two medications together unless specifically directed to do so by your healthcare provider.

Xanax® vs. Valium®: Which is One Prescribed for Sleeping Disorders?

Both Xanax® and Valium® may be prescribed to treat insomnia and other sleep disorders. However, these medications are not typically recommended for long term use due to the risk for dependence.

Xanax® vs. Valium®: Which One Takes Effect Faster?

Xanax® takes effect faster than Valium®. The onset of effects of Xanax® is 15-30 minutes while Valium® can take up to 60 minutes to “kick in.”

How Long do the Effects of Xanax® and Valium® Last?

The effects of Xanax® typically last between 4-6 hours. Valium® can last up to 12 hours and sometimes even longer. However, not everyone will experience the same effects. Factors include body composition, the dosage of the drug, and the individual’s general health.

Are Xanax® and Valium® Safe to Take While Pregnant?

Xanax® and Valium® are Category D medications, meaning that taking either of these medications may pose a risk to a developing fetus. Pregnant women should not take Xanax® or Valium® while pregnant unless directly told to do so by a doctor.

Do Xanax® and Valium® Cause Weight Gain?

Neither Xanax® or Valium® report a common side effect of weight gain, however, both of these medications can cause changes in appetite and eating habits that may in turn result in weight gain.

Can Xanax® and Valium® be Used for Alcohol Withdrawal?

Both medications are commonly used to manage the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. However, an individual should not take Xanax® or Valium® to treat withdrawal symptoms without the supervision of a healthcare professional, as these medications have potentially dangerous interactions with alcohol and pose a high risk of abuse.

Can Xanax® and Valium® Treat Depression?

Xanax® and Valium® do not treat the underlying causes of addiction and, in some cases, may exacerbate symptoms of depression. Healthcare providers may prescribe these medications to treat anxiety or panic attacks associated with depression, but supplemental depression treatment is recommended for long-term symptom management.

Can Xanax® and Valium® be Taken with Food?

Taking Xanax® or Valium® with food may help reduce stomach upset. However, both medications may be taken without food. It is important to follow the instructions of the prescribing physician when taking these medications. If you have questions regarding how to take your Xanax® or Valium®, speak with your provider.

Is It Safe to Take Xanax® or Valium® With Other Medications?

Taking Xanax® or Valium® with another medication may result in severe drug interactions. Before taking these medications, inform your prescriber if you are taking any other prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, or herbal supplements.

Are You Experiencing Trouble With Xanax® or Valium® Addiction?

You're not alone - there are millions of people who struggle with the same addictions. But there is hope with the proper guidance and treatment. Contact the professionals at Infinite Recovery today and let's get started on your journey to recovery.
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Sources

[1] NIDA. (2022, November 7). Benzodiazepines and Opioids. Retrieved from https://www.nida.nih.gov/research-topics/opioids/benzodiazepines-opioids  on 2023, 31 March.

[2] Drugs.com. (2021, October 11). What’s the difference between Valium and Xanax? Retrieved from https://www.drugs.com/medical-answers/valium-xanax-difference-3116677/ on 31 March 2023

[3] Drug Enforcement Administration. (2023, April). Controlled Substance Schedules. Retrieved from https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/schedules/ on 2023, 31 March.

Amanda Stevens, BS

Medical Content Writer

Amanda is a prolific medical content writer specializing in eating disorders and addiction treatment. She graduated Magnum Cum Laude from Purdue University with a B.S. in Social Work. As a person in recovery from disordered eating, she is passionate about seeing people heal and transform. In her spare time she loves learning about health, nutrition, meditation, spiritual practices, and enjoys being a mother to two beautiful children.

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