What Are The Differences Between Valium And Xanax?

Diazepam, often sold under the name Valium, is a benzodiazepine used to treat various mental disorders. It was released in 1963 quickly became the highest-selling drug from 1969 to 1982. A chemist named Leo Sternbach created it as an improved version of the drug Librium. (1)

Xanax, a trade name for the generic drug alprazolam, came to the United States after the company Upjohn (now a subsidiary of Pfizer) introduced it in 1981. The company initially sold the drug as a treatment for panic disorders. The drug is relatively cheaper compared to other drugs. By 2010, it became the most prescribed and abused benzodiazepine in the market. (2)

Uses Of Xanax And Valium

Xanax is a minor tranquilizer meaning it possesses some sedating properties. It works by binding itself to our GABA receptors to regulate the flow of electrical impulses in our brain. On the other hand, Valium, being a benzodiazepine too, works in the same way Xanax does.

Physicians prescribe both Xanax and Valium in treating mental disorders such as anxiety, and panic disorders. Both of them also demonstrate some level of anticonvulsant, and sleep-inducing properties.

Listed below are some uses exclusive to each drug:


  • Treatment of Withdrawal Symptoms: Physicians prescribe Valium to treat the adverse effects of alcohol, opiate, and benzodiazepine withdrawal.
  • Tetanus: Physicians administer Valium to reduce the rigidity and muscle spasm experienced by patients afflicted with the tetanus bacteria.
  • Stiff Person Syndrome: It is a rare disorder that causes patients to experience rigidity and stiffness which can result in chronic pain and impaired mobility.
  • Muscle Spasms: Valium has a muscle relaxing property which can reduce the occurrence of uncontrollable spasms.
  • Restless Leg Syndrome: Patients suffering from this disorder feel pain around their leg area which reportedly decreases whenever they move their leg muscles.


  • Chemotherapy-induced Nausea: Xanax can effectively reduce the incidence or severity of nausea on patients that are undergoing chemotherapy.

Side Effects Of Xanax And Valium

The United States Food and Drug Administration classified both Valium and Xanax as Schedule IV drugs. This places the drug under the watch of the Drug Enforcement Agency due to their potential for abuse.

Though minimal, prolonged use or misuse of each drug may result in addiction to the user. Additionally, some of the side effects common to both drug include drowsiness, impaired memory, lack of coordination, and dizziness.

Effect On Pregnant Women

A study on the teratogenic effect of benzodiazepines like Xanax and Valium found out that there is a minimal probability that the fetus will experience long-term adverse effects. The same result appeared in babies that were ingesting breast milk from a mother taking either of these drugs. (3)

Can Xanax And Valium Be Taken Together?

Lastly, doctors do not recommend patients to take both Xanax and Valium at the same time. This is due to the presence of their sedating and depressing effects. Taking them together may intensify the adverse effects of each drug. This interaction may result in severe depression, seizures, suicidal thoughts, respiratory depression and more.

Other substances may also result to worsened side effect if taken with Xanax. Nevertheless, always remember to consult your doctor before deciding which drug you should take. Choosing the wrong one may lead to adverse complication on your health.


“Drug Abuse Warning Network, 2006: National Estimates of Drug-Related Emergency Department Visits” (PDF). U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. 2006. Retrieved 21 August 2017.

Sample, I. (n.d.). Leo Sternbach. Retrieved August 21, 2017, from The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2005/oct/03/health.guardianobituaries

McElhatton, P. (1994). The effects of benzodiazepine use during pregnancy and lactation.