Xanax Vs. Valium: How are they different?

Xanax or alprazolam and Valium or diazepam are the drugs that belong to the same family of drugs benzodiazepine. These drugs are used for the treatment of anxiety disorders and panic attacks. The anxiety or other psychiatric disorders is caused by excessive activity in the brain. GABA, a chemical that makes the communication between the nerve cells, is responsible for inhibiting or slowing down the activity in the brain. The drugs of Bendoziapine group work by boosting the effects of the neurotransmitter gamma- aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain.

Whereas, Valium and Xanax belong to the same group of drugs, they are different medicines, and you cannot use them interchangeably. There are so many similarities in the mechanism of action, properties, and side effects of both these drugs. They are still different from each other in various aspects like the angle of treatment, dosage or strength, withdrawal symptoms, and drug reactions.

How is Valium different from Xanax from the angle of treatment?

A marked difference in Xanax and Valium is that Valium can also be prescribed for the treatment of conditions like hallucinations, tremors, agitation, delirium, seizures, anxiety resulting from alcohol withdrawal, muscle spasms in case of some neurological diseases. It can also be given for sedation during surgery.

Side effects and Valium vs. Xanax

Xanax and Valium have similar side effects, which include fatigue, drowsiness, and problems in speech. However, a tiny line of difference can be drawn between side effects of Xanax and that of Valium wherein constipation, memory problems, and changes in weight can be seen after taking Xanax and side effects like rash, diarrhea, loss of balance, euphoria, rage, confusion, muscle spasm, lack of sleep and double vision.

How are Valium and Xanax different with respect to drug reactions?

Differences in drug interaction lies wherein Xanax may interact with nefazodone and Valium may interact with drugs like fluoxetine, omeprazole, cimetidine, clarithromycin, and erythromycin, darunavir, and St. John's wort.

Valium and Xanax- addiction and withdrawal

Addiction to Xanax and Valium is very commonly seen when higher dosages are taken over prolonged periods than is prescribed. However, Xanax can be seen to be more addictive than Valium. Therefore, it is harder to withdraw Xanax than Valium.

Some of the commonly noticed withdrawal symptoms on stopping Valium suddenly are:

  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia or sleeplessness
  • Headaches
  • Seizures
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Light-headedness
  • Sweating

Abrupt cessation of Xanax may lead to serious withdrawal symptoms like:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Numb fingers
  • Paranoia
  • Seizures
  • Anxiety
  • Tremors
  • Headaches
  • Sweating
  • Panic
  • Diarrhea
  • Sensitivity to light and sound
  • Heart palpitations

What is the dose of Xanax vs. Valium?

Xanax is typically prescribed in case of severe cases, and Valium is typically used for less severe cases.


In the case of treating anxiety, the starting dose is 0.25-0.5 mg to be taken 3 to 4 times daily using immediate-release tablets. The doctor may ask to increase the dose every 3-4 days to a maximum dose of 4 mg daily.

To treat panic attacks, the starting dose is 0.5 mg 3 times daily, which can be increased every 3-4 days. However, it is not advised to take the dose of not more than Xanax 1mg daily. Xanax is available for sale in drug stores by prescription. You can buy Xanax online.

You can take Xanax with or without food. The medicine is available as liquid as well as pills.


Though Diazepam can also be taken with or without food, however, it is not prescribed in case you have abnormal kidney function.

To treat anxiety or seizures, the usual recommended dose is 2-10 mg to be taken 2-4 times daily. Depending on your age, the doctor may prescribe you the rectal dose of 0.2-0.5 mg/kg.

Valium is available in the form of pills, liquid, extended-release tablet, and dissolving tablets. Though it is available only by prescription, you can still buy Valium online legally.

Drugs like Rifampin (Rifadin), Carbamazepine (Tegretol), and St. John's Wort increase the elimination of Diazepam by liver enzymes and, therefore, your doctor might decrease the dose of Diazepam when on these drugs.

Any misuse, abuse or an overdose of both these drugs may be dangerous and cause death. You need to inform the doctor if you notice any of the following symptoms of overdose

  • loss of balance or coordination
  • extreme drowsiness
  • limp or weak muscles
  • fainting

Active ingredient and Xanax and Valium

Valium's active ingredient is Diazepam — it's a long-action benzodiazepine, it's use medically is broader than this of Xanax. Xanax's active ingredient is called alprazolam — a short-acting, quicker benzodiazepine.

When is Xanax contraindicated?

Xanax is not prescribed in any of the following cases:

  • seizures or epilepsy
  • narrow-angle glaucoma
  • breathing disorder
  • kidney disease
  • alcoholic liver disease
  • asthma
  • a history of drug or alcohol addiction
  • a history of depression or suicidal thoughts
  • allergies to Xanax or similar medicines
  • if you are already on opioid medication
  • pregnancy

When is Valium contraindicated?

Valium is not recommended in case of:

  • allergic reaction to Valium
  • glaucoma (high pressure in the eye)
  • depression, schizophrenia or other mental illness
  • muscle weakness
  • drug or alcohol addiction
  • epilepsy (fits)
  • chronic lung disease
  • severe liver disease
  • high or low blood pressure
  • pregnancy
  • breastfeeding mothers

Xanax and Valium both can cause abnormalities in the foetus. These drugs are transferred in breast milk and can cause adverse effects on the infant's nursing on the same milk. Therefore, this group of drugs is not indicated in pregnancy and nursing women.