Valium and Xanax are brand names for anti-anxiety medication, and the generic for them are diazepam and alprazolam respectively. They are in the class of medication known as benzodiazepines, or benzos for short. Both are available by prescription only and used to treat various types of anxiety disorders. Valium and Xanax both have given many their lives back after suffering from crippling anxiety and panic, they are not the same medication, and are used in different circumstances. As always, it is vital to talk to the prescribing doctor about this medication, how to use it, and what is important to know about it.
Valium, or diazepam, is used to try mild to moderate anxiety disorders, help as a muscle relaxer, and can be used to help with withdrawals from alcohol and other drugs. It is quick acting, does not need to build up in the individual’s system, and can start doing its job in a matter of hours. It is also potentially addictive, so not often used as a long-term medication. They also have a short half-life in the body, meaning their effects will be gone in a matter of hours to a day.
Xanax, or alprazolam, is used to treat moderate anxiety disorders and panic disorders. It is like Valium, but will often be used to treat more severe cases of anxiety. It is also fast acting, does not need to build up in one’s system, and will start working within hours. It is also addictive, and not likely to be used as a long-term medication. They too have a short half-life in the body, meaning their effects will be gone in a matter of hours to a day
In describing them, the differences start to become seen easily. Xanax is different from Valium in that it will be used more often to treat more severe cases of anxiety, including panic disorders, where the individual experiences dread and overwhelming anxiety to the point of thinking they are dying. Valium will be used for mild to moderate anxiety symptoms, or even as a muscle relaxer, which is not a use for Xanax.
Their addictive quality is similar, as both have the potential to become habit-forming. Xanax, however, shows higher rates of addiction, meaning more people are addicted to Xanax than Valium. This would make sense, given that Xanax is used to treat more severe forms of disorders, and can be seen as a more powerful anti-anxiety medication.
The other difference and downside is that withdrawal from Xanax will be harder and have more side-effects than withdrawal from Valium. Xanax will have a higher likelihood of withdrawal symptoms if taken for a long period, and the need to be weaned off of it greater. It is also more likely that they will last longer, by a couple of days, versus Valium. In both cases, muscle cramps, sleep disturbances, gastrointestinal problems, anxiety, headaches, and other psychiatric symptoms are possible.
It is important to remember that these medications, when used properly, can be life-changing. Both Valium and Xanax have given many their lives back and alleviated much suffering. Xanax, however, is a slightly stronger medication, and given that, has a greater chance of addiction, and worse side-effects from withdrawal. Either way, they both need to be used responsibly and any changes in usage should be discussed with a medical professional first.