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Valium vs Xanax

Valium vs Xanax

Are Valium and Xanax the same thing?

No, but they’re often compared to each other. People who are prescribed these medications may wonder which one is more effective or which one is more addictive. Although our drug rehab in Florida knows that benzos are generally an addictive drug class, we wanted to compare Valium vs Xanax to better understand their similarities, differences, and dangers.

Comparing Valium vs Xanax: What Are They?

Xanax and Valium are two different kinds of benzodiazepines, which are central nervous system depressants. Valium is a brand name for diazepam, and Xanax is a brand name for alprazolam. Because both drugs are from the same drug class, their mechanism of action is the same. However, while they may share this similarity, structural differences between them affect their activity in the body and how long their side effects last.

How Do Valium and Xanax Work?

Both Valium and Xanax work by enhancing the effects of a neurotransmitter called GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that can reduce the activity of nerve cells in the CNS. When enhanced, it has a calming effect that can improve symptoms of anxiety, reduce muscle tension, stop or prevent seizures, and induce sleep. Benzos like Xanax and Valium are also known for their amnesic side effects, meaning they’re also useful before surgery.

Although they’re from the same drug class, Xanax and Valium contain structural differences that affect their ability to make you sleepy, alleviate anxiety, stop or prevent seizures, relax the muscles, and affect short-term memory. While both are FDA-approved to treat anxiety disorders, Xanax is less likely than Valium to make you sleepy.

Is Valium More Addictive Than Xanax?

Another important factor to keep in mind is that both Valium and Xanax are addictive. While they may effectively treat conditions associated with high nerve activity in the brain, their impact on GABA and mood can contribute to addiction. Not only do benzos produce a relaxing sensation, but they also impact the brain's reward circuit, encouraging further drug use. As a result, many individuals who misuse their prescription benzos or abuse these drugs in general often require a benzo detox treatment to recover.

Benzodiazepines with shorter half-lives, like Xanax, are more difficult to quit using than benzos with longer half-lives, such as Valium. With this in mind, you could say that Xanax is more addictive than Valium. Even so, both drugs affect brain tissue, reinforce drug-taking, and are generally more associated with withdrawal symptoms. Additionally, Xanax is known to cause more severe withdrawal symptoms than Valium. Regardless, people who become addicted to either Xanax or Valium usually require benzo addiction treatment to get sober.

What Is the Difference Between Xanax and Valium?

The main difference between Xanax and Valium is that Valium works quicker and stays in the body longer than Xanax does. The half-life of Valium (diazepam) is approximately 48 hours or two days, while the half-life of Xanax (alprazolam) is around 11.2 hours. Also, Xanax is approved to treat panic disorders while Valium is not. Doctors are more likely to prescribe children Valium than they are Xanax, possibly because Xanax stays active for a shorter period, which can reinforce repetitive drug use.

Even when drugs are from the same drug class, their doses, duration of side effects, and speed at which they kick in can make a huge difference. For example, drugs with shorter half-lives tend to wear off more quickly. When a person is seeking relief from a particular ailment, this can be frustrating. Oftentimes, the shorter-acting drugs are, the more likely a person is to take more doses in a short period to feel relief.

If you’re taking either of these drugs, never take a higher dose than prescribed or take them more frequently than instructed. Drug misuse is dangerous and can lead to addiction and contribute to adverse physical reactions. If you or someone you know has a benzo addiction, get help immediately. Call Banyan Treatment Centers Boca today at 888-280-4763 to learn how our inpatient drug treatment can help.

Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.