Xanax vs. Valium: What’s the Difference?

xanax and valium pills

Xanax and Valium are both benzodiazepines and prescription drugs that are used to treat anxiety disorders. However, the two are different in some aspects too. In this blog, we’ll provide an in-depth overview of what each drug is, as well as its side effects, withdrawal symptoms, and risks of addiction, and compare the two side-by-side.

What Is Xanax?

Xanax is the brand name for the drug alprazolam. It is a prescription drug and benzodiazepine that is used to treat anxiety and panic disorders. It works by increasing the amount of gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain, which produces feelings of calmness and relaxation. Xanax is classified as a Schedule IV drug by the DEA, which means it has a low potential for abuse and dependence. However, it can still be addictive, especially for those who use it in large quantities over a long period of time.1

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, between 1996 and 2013, the number of adults who filled a benzodiazepine prescription increased by 67 percent, from 8.1 million to 13.5 million. People are also receiving larger quantities of the drug, which increased from 1.1 kg to 3.6 kg of lorazepam-equivalents per 100,000 adults.2

When it’s used correctly, Xanax is a safe and effective treatment for anxiety disorders. However, people may misuse Xanax by taking larger or more frequent doses than prescribed or taking it with alcohol or other drugs like opioids to enhance its effects.

Recreational abuse of Xanax is common in the U.S. and people who abuse it regularly may refer to it with slang terms or street names to disguise their conversation. Common street names for Xanax include:

  • Bars
  • Benzos
  • Blue footballs
  • Bricks
  • Handlebars
  • Planks
  • School bus
  • White boys
  • White girls
  • Yellow boys
  • Xannies
  • Z-Bars
  • Zanbars

People may abuse Xanax for the fast-acting calming feelings it provides, but benzodiazepine abuse comes with many physical and psychological risks. According to the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, an estimated 52,000 young adults ages 18 to 25 misused sedatives like Xanax in the past month and an estimated 281,000 adults were current misusers of sedatives like Xanax.3

Many people who abuse Xanax may also abuse opioids, which is a very dangerous drug combination. Since both benzodiazepines and opioids are depressants, using the two together can exacerbate side effects like depressed breathing and cognitive impairment. More than 30 percent of overdoses involving opioids also involve benzodiazepines like Xanax.2

How Long Does Xanax Stay in Your System?

Xanax will stay in your system for about four days after the last dose.4 However, this will vary on a case-by-case basis depending on certain personal factors.

Xanax is also detectable in the blood, urine, saliva, and hair but approximate drug detection times will vary depending on certain factors like your age and metabolism, how frequently you abuse Xanax, and your dosage amount.

Drug Testing for Xanax

Urine testDetectable for 5-7 days
Blood testDetectable up to 24 hours
Saliva testDetectable for up to 2.5 days
Hair follicle testDetectable for up to 90 days

Source: https://www.verywellmind.com/how-long-does-xanax-stay-in-your-system-80348

Signs and Symptoms of Xanax Addiction

If you or a loved one develops an addiction to Xanax, there may be several noticeable signs. Signs and symptoms of Xanax addiction may include:

  • Needing higher doses of Xanax to achieve the desired effect
  • Losing interest in normal daily activities
  • Experiencing Xanax withdrawal symptoms
  • Having strong cravings for Xanax
  • Having strained relationships with family and friends
  • Experiencing financial problems due to buying Xanax
  • Needing Xanax to function normally
  • Isolating oneself from friends and family
  • Continuing to abuse Xanax despite the negative consequences
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    Xanax Withdrawal Symptoms

    If a person is addicted to Xanax and suddenly stops using it, he or she may experience withdrawal symptoms. Xanax withdrawal can be mild or severe, but the safest method for quitting is a taper method, which involves gradually reducing the dosage over time until it is no longer needed.

    Common Xanax withdrawal symptoms include:

    • Anxiety
    • Fatigue
    • Headache
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Abnormal twitching
    • Light-headedness
    • Diarrhea
    • Weight loss
    • Sweating
    • Reduced appetite
    • Irritability
    • Insomnia
    • Increased heart rate
    • Decreased salivation
    • Cognitive problems
    • Blurred vision
    • Confusion
    • Depression
    • Coordination problems
    • Memory problems
    • Suicidal thoughts

    Any type of benzodiazepine withdrawal can be very dangerous without medical support and supervision, as the psychological effects of detox and withdrawal may sometimes be very severe. Quitting Xanax cold turkey is dangerous and may even be life-threatening, depending on the severity of your addiction and withdrawal symptoms, but a medical detox program can provide clinical and medical supervision round the clock to ensure your safety and comfort throughout the process.

    What Is Valium?

    Valium is the brand name for the drug diazepam, which is another prescription medication that is used to treat anxiety disorders, panic attacks, and seizures. It may also be used to treat symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. Valium is a benzodiazepine and can be highly addictive, especially if it is taken for several weeks at a time or used recreationally.

    Valium is formulated in varying doses and comes in tablet form, which may be white, yellow, blue, or green in color. Depending on the usage and dosage, a person may take Valium once to four times daily under the supervision of a doctor.5

    Valium works by calming the central nervous system and producing feelings of relaxation in the mind. Its effects are longer-lasting than other similar benzodiazepines like Xanax, which is a short-acting benzodiazepine. Since Valium stays in the body longer than other benzodiazepines, users typically require fewer doses daily. However, it may also be misused due to its calming effects.

    According to the NSDUH, 352,000 people were current misusers of prescription sedatives like Valium in 2017.2 Those who misuse them may refer to them with the following slang terms or street names in conversation:

    • Yellow Vs
    • Vs
    • Blue Vs
    • Benzos
    • Tranks

    The DEA classifies Valium as a Schedule IV drug, which means it does have the potential to cause dependence and addiction. While most people don’t abuse Valium with the intention to get high, many do abuse it because they feel like they can’t cope with everyday life. Valium makes it possible for them to sleep and feel less anxious and stressed.

    Valium is also frequently abused with other prescription drugs or alcohol, which can be extremely dangerous and increase the user’s risk of overdose. Drug combinations like benzodiazepines and alcohol or benzodiazepines and opiates can be life-threatening and these drugs should never be used together.7

    Valium is a highly effective prescription drug that can be used to treat many medical and psychological issues, but if it is abused, it can also have many harmful side effects.

    How Long Does Valium Stay in Your System?

    There are many different variables that will affect how long Valium stays in your system, but generally speaking, Valium stays in your system for about 10 days. Even after it leaves your system, it will leave behind metabolites that can be detected with various types of drug tests. The following chart contains approximate drug detection times for Valium.

    Drug Testing for Valium

    Urine testDetectable for 1-6 weeks
    Blood testDetectable for 6-48 hours
    Saliva testDetectable for 1-10 days
    Hair follicle testDetectable for up to 90 days

    Source:  https://www.verywellmind.com/how-long-does-valium-stay-in-your-system-80344

    Signs and Symptoms of Valium Addiction

    Someone may be addicted if they display the following signs and symptoms of Valium addiction:

    • Isolating from friends and family
    • Losing interest in daily activities and hobbies
    • Frequently taking pills
    • Visiting multiple doctors to get prescriptions for Valium
    • Faking symptoms to get Valium
    • Hiding pills
    • Experiencing severe cravings for Valium
    • Experiencing financial problems due to Valium abuse
    • Having troubled relationships at home, work, and school

    Valium Withdrawal Symptoms

    If you are addicted to Valium and you suddenly stop taking it, you may experience withdrawal symptoms. Valium withdrawal symptoms typically include:

    • Excessive sweating
    • Vomiting
    • Headache
    • Muscle spasms
    • Increased heart rate
    • Increased blood pressure
    • Irritability
    • Anxiety
    • Stomach cramps
    • Delirium
    • Seizures8,9

    Valium withdrawal is difficult to overcome on your own, but with medical assistance, it is entirely safe and possible. A medical detox program can provide much-needed medical and clinical supervision to ensure that the Valium detox and withdrawal process is safe and as comfortable as possible.

    Medical professionals usually help detox clients detox from Valium with a taper method, as quitting Valium cold turkey can be very difficult, dangerous and even life-threatening.

    Xanax Uses vs. Valium Uses

    Xanax and Valium are brand name drugs. While both Xanax and Valium are FDA-approved to treat anxiety disorders, Xanax may also be used to treat panic disorder. Valium, on the other hand, has several other medical uses and may also be prescribed for alcohol withdrawal, muscle spasms, seizures, sleep disorders.5

    Although the two drugs may be used in different ways, both Xanax and Valium work to reduce anxiety by increasing the production of GABA in the brain.

    Xanax is used to treat:


    • Anxiety disorders
    • Panic disorder
    Valium is used to treat:


    • Anxiety disorders
    • Alcohol withdrawal
    • Muscle spasms
    • Seizures
    • Sleep disorders

    Recreational abuse of Xanax and Valium often occurs for similar reasons, such as:

    • To cope with difficult life circumstances
    • To reduce feelings of stress and anxiety
    • To get high
    • To enhance the effects of other drugs or alcohol

    Xanax vs. Valium: Addiction and Dependence

    Both Xanax and Valium are Schedule IV drugs and carry a risk for dependence and addiction. Many people take these drugs for months or even years on end, which can greatly increase their risk of addiction. Some people may even become addicted after just a few days or weeks of using them.

    Xanax and Valium are both benzodiazepines and chronic abuse of either can cause tolerance and dependence. However, once you are physically dependent, stopping all Xanax or Valium use suddenly can lead to severe withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal from both drugs can be dangerous without medical supervision, so Xanax detox and Valium detox are best completed with medically-assisted detox programs.

    Xanax vs. Valium: Side Effects

    Xanax and Valium produce similar side effects when they are abused since they are both in the same drug class. The chart below displays some of the most common side effects of Xanax and Valium abuse.

    Side Effects of Xanax AbuseSide Effects of Valium Abuse
    • Extreme drowsiness or sedation
    • Lightheadedness
    • Problems concentrating
    • Memory problems
    • Nausea
    • Headache
    • Blurry vision or double vision
    • Dry mouth
    • Lack of coordination
    • Irritability
    • Tremors
    • Suicidal thoughts
    • Aggression
    • Hallucinations
    • Seizures10
    • Extreme fatigue and weakness
    • Nausea and diarrhea
    • Dizziness
    • Blurry vision
    • Restlessness
    • Decreased sex drive
    • Seizures
    • Respiratory problems
    • Irregular heartbeat
    • Shakiness
    • Fever
    • Depression
    • Aggressive behavior
    • Hallucinations
    • Delirium/paranoia
    • Memory loss
    • Anxiety
    • Insomnia
    • Nightmares
    • Impaired judgment
    • Confusion

    Get Xanax Addiction Treatment or Valium Addiction Treatment Today

    Overcoming Xanax addiction or Valium addiction will take time and professional treatment, but it is possible to live a life of sobriety. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, substance use disorder is best treated with multiple episodes of treatment, which often includes detox, rehab, IOP, and aftercare services like sober living, in addition to cognitive behavioral therapy.

    If you or a loved one is suffering from Xanax addiction or Valium addiction, you don’t have to suffer any longer. If you’re ready to get help, we are here for you. We provide comfortable and confidential Xanax detox and Valium detox programs at our detox centers in Houston and Austin, TX.


    Call (888) 857-0557 to speak with a Briarwood admissions specialist and start your recovery journey today.


    1. https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a684001.html
    2. https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opioids/benzodiazepines-opioids
    3. https://www.samhsa.gov/data/report/2017-nsduh-annual-national-report
    4. https://www.verywellmind.com/how-long-does-xanax-stay-in-your-system-80348
    5. https://www.everydayhealth.com/drugs/diazepam
    6. https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-11116/valium-oral/details
    7. https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682047.html
    8. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2016/013263s094lbl.pdf
    9. https://www.aafp.org/afp/2000/0401/p2121.html
    10. https://www.rxlist.com/xanax-drug.htm#side_effects

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