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Xanax vs. Valium: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 17, 2023
Xanax (alprazolam) and Valium (diazepam) are both benzodiazepines, but Xanax acts more quickly and has a shorter duration than Valium.

Key Differences

Xanax and Valium are both medications used primarily to treat anxiety disorders and panic attacks. Xanax, with its active ingredient being alprazolam, is known for its faster onset of action. Valium, whose active ingredient is diazepam, takes a bit longer to kick in but its effects can last longer.
In terms of their chemistry, both Xanax and Valium belong to the benzodiazepine class of drugs. However, their individual molecular structures are different. This distinction results in slight differences in their pharmacological profiles, although their primary mechanisms of action remain similar.
Clinically, doctors may choose Xanax for patients who require rapid relief from acute anxiety symptoms. On the other hand, Valium might be preferred for conditions like muscle spasms or alcohol withdrawal, due to its longer duration of action and muscle-relaxant properties.
The side effects of both Xanax and Valium are also worth noting. Both medications can cause drowsiness, dizziness, and a number of other side effects. However, since Xanax is more potent and has a shorter half-life, its withdrawal symptoms can be more pronounced than those of Valium.
Finally, both Xanax and Valium have a potential for dependence and abuse. Their prolonged use can lead to tolerance, meaning that over time, a higher dose is needed to achieve the same therapeutic effect.

Comparison Chart

Active Ingredient


Onset of Action


Duration of Effect


Common Uses

Anxiety, panic attacks
Anxiety, muscle spasms, alcohol withdrawal

Dependence Potential

Higher (due to potency & short half-life)
Slightly lower

Xanax and Valium Definitions


Xanax is a benzodiazepine that affects chemicals in the brain.
As a benzodiazepine, Xanax can cause drowsiness and impair judgment.


Valium is a medication primarily prescribed for anxiety, muscle spasms, and alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
After the accident, he was given Valium to ease his muscle spasms.


Xanax is a prescription medication used to treat anxiety and panic disorders.
She was prescribed Xanax to help manage her severe panic attacks.


Valium acts on the central nervous system to produce its calming effects.
Valium helped her stay calm during the turbulent flight.


Xanax offers rapid relief from acute anxiety symptoms.
After taking Xanax, she felt calmer within twenty minutes.


Valium belongs to the benzodiazepine class of drugs.
Valium, like other benzodiazepines, can cause sleepiness and slow reflexes.


Xanax has a potential for dependence and abuse.
Continuous use of Xanax led him to develop a tolerance, requiring higher doses.


Valium has a longer duration of effect compared to some other benzodiazepines.
She felt the relaxing effects of Valium throughout the entire day.


Xanax has a shorter duration of effect compared to some other benzodiazepines.
The effects of Xanax wore off by the evening, so she needed another dose.


Valium can be used in the management of seizures.
The doctor prescribed Valium to control her recurrent seizures.


An antianxiety agent (trade name Xanax) of the benzodiazepine class


A tranquilizer (trade name Valium) used to relieve anxiety and relax muscles; acts by enhancing the inhibitory actions of the neurotransmitter GABA; can also be used as an anticonvulsant drug in cases of nerve agent poisoning


Which medication acts faster, Xanax or Valium?

Xanax acts more quickly than Valium.

What is Xanax primarily used for?

Xanax is primarily used to treat anxiety and panic disorders.

Is Valium used for muscle spasms?

Yes, Valium can be used to treat muscle spasms.

Is Valium used in alcohol withdrawal?

Yes, Valium is sometimes used in the management of alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

Can Xanax and Valium be taken together?

Only under a doctor's guidance, as combining them can amplify their effects.

Can pregnant women take Xanax or Valium?

Both drugs should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus, and always under a doctor's supervision.

What is the active ingredient in Valium?

The active ingredient in Valium is diazepam.

Are both Xanax and Valium benzodiazepines?

Yes, both medications belong to the benzodiazepine class of drugs.

Are there withdrawal symptoms for Xanax and Valium?

Yes, both Xanax and Valium can cause withdrawal symptoms if discontinued abruptly.

Can Xanax be used for sleep?

While not primarily a sleep medication, Xanax can cause drowsiness and might be used off-label for sleep in some cases.

How should I store Xanax and Valium?

Both should be stored at room temperature, away from moisture and light.

Which drug has a higher potential for dependence, Xanax or Valium?

Xanax generally has a higher potential for dependence due to its potency and shorter half-life.

How do Xanax and Valium affect the brain?

Both medications act on the central nervous system, affecting chemicals in the brain to produce a calming effect.

Are there generics available for Xanax and Valium?

Yes, the generic for Xanax is alprazolam and for Valium is diazepam.

How long have Xanax and Valium been on the market?

Valium was introduced in the 1960s, and Xanax in the 1980s.

Can I drink alcohol while taking Valium?

It's not recommended, as alcohol can increase the sedative effects of Valium.

Which has a longer duration, Xanax or Valium?

Valium has a longer duration of effect compared to Xanax.

Do Xanax and Valium have side effects?

Yes, both can cause side effects such as drowsiness, dizziness, and more.

Is it safe to drive after taking Xanax or Valium?

It's advisable to avoid driving until you know how these medications affect you due to their sedative properties.

How do I know if I'm becoming dependent on Xanax or Valium?

Signs of dependence include needing increased doses for the same effect or experiencing withdrawal symptoms without the drug.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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