The occasional feeling of anxiety is normal, but for some people, anxiety can be a persistent and challenging problem. People with anxiety disorders may struggle in school, work, and their relationships without proper treatment. Oftentimes, these individuals have prescribed medications like Xanax and Valium to manage their symptoms. Because both medications are of the same drug class, many people wonder what the difference between Xanax and Valium is. Below is a comparison of alprazolam vs. Valium to get a better idea of how they work and which one is stronger.
How Xanax and Valium Work
Valium and Xanax are both brand-name versions of different generic drugs that belong to the benzodiazepine drug class. Valium is the brand name for diazepam, and Xanax is the brand name for alprazolam. Both of these drugs are minor tranquilizers or central nervous system depressants.
Both Valium and Xanax work by stimulating the activity of the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA is an inhibitory chemical messenger that transmits signals throughout the body to slow activity like heart rate and breathing. Low GABA levels can contribute to anxiety.
Additionally, although both drugs are slightly different, they tend to produce similar side effects, including:
- Muscle weakness
- Slurred speech
- Memory problems
- Dry mouth
- Blurred vision
Additionally, all benzodiazepines have a high potential for abuse and addiction, and misusing them in any way – such as taking higher doses than prescribed or mixing them with alcohol – can increase the risk of dependence and overdose.
What Is the Difference Between Xanax And Valium?
The main difference between Xanax and Valium is that Valium has a longer half-life than Xanax. Their uses are also different: Valium may be prescribed to treat anxiety disorders, seizure disorders, muscle tightness, and alcohol withdrawal symptoms, while Xanax is usually prescribed to treat anxiety and panic disorders.
Valium also works quicker than Xanax, with side effects peaking after just one hour. The half-life of Valium is 20 to 50 hours, while Xanax’s half-life is 6 to 20 hours.
It’s important to know the half-life of a drug and how quickly it kicks in. Some drugs may take longer to take effect but may remain in the body for longer periods. Sometimes, because a drug takes a while to take effect, people may take more doses than they should.
In the end, this increases the risk of toxicity and overdose. Additionally, while Valium and Xanax usually kick in within 1 to 2 hours, Valium remains in the body much longer, so the individual needs to avoid taking any other substances that may interact or interfere with the drug in the meantime.
Additionally, Valium is usually prescribed at slightly higher doses than Xanax. Valium dosages range from 2 mg to 10 mg two to four times daily, while Xanax doses range from 0.25 mg to 0.5 mg three times daily.
So what does this stay of their strength? Is Valium stronger than Xanax? Although Valium may be absorbed quicker than Xanax, it’s not necessarily stronger.
Although one study showed that Valium was shown to be slightly more effective at managing anxiety than Xanax, the difference between the two wasn’t considered significant enough to be clinically meaningful.1 Despite their slight differences, both drugs produce sedation, drowsiness, and reduced reaction time.
In a Valium vs. Xanax comparison, it’s also important to keep in mind that Valium stays in the body longer than Xanax does, often a determining factor in choosing the appropriate medication to take. Both drugs are also highly addictive, meaning that taking them in high doses, mixing them with alcohol, or incorrectly administering them can contribute to developed tolerance and dependence.
Help for Benzo Addiction
Understanding the difference between Xanax and Valium is important for determining which medication may be more appropriate for your condition. Understanding details like their half-lives and their onset of action is also important for taking them correctly and preventing overdose or drug interactions.
Many people become addicted to their benzodiazepine medications. If you or a loved one has developed an addiction to drugs like Valium or Xanax, our drug rehab in Chicago offers benzo addiction treatment specifically designed to treat dependence on substances of this drug class.
Our drug rehab in Naperville, IL, also provides patients with various drug therapy programs to help them understand their conditions and develop the independence and relapse prevention skills they’ll need to remain sober after rehab. No matter how long you’ve been addicted to drugs or alcohol, recovery is possible.
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NIH - Alprazolam and diazepam in the treatment of generalized anxiety