Medication Information
May 9, 2011 2:54 PM   Subscribe

What's the difference between Valium and Xanax? (or the between the generic versions?)

I really can't say more.
posted by longsleeves to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
A quick search on google returns this:

Xanax and Valium are different in that their half lifes are different. Xanax is quick to work and quick to leave, which is bad, because it leaves your body fast. Valium lasts longer in your body.
posted by TheBones at 2:59 PM on May 9, 2011

That's not necessarily bad. Sometimes you need shorter duration.

Benzodiazepines in order of half life from shortest to longest: midazolam, alprazolam, lorazepam, oxazepam, temazepam, clonazepam, diazepam (not a complete list).
posted by neuron at 3:16 PM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Diazepam has a half-life of 20-100 hours while alprazolam only has a half-life of 6-12 hours. By weight, alprazolam is 20 times more potent and it has more of an anxiolytic character compared to diazepam which is more hypnotic.
posted by turkeyphant at 3:36 PM on May 9, 2011

From personal experience, Xanax is very short-acting which makes it more of a roller-coaster which can be bad. Valium lasts for quite a while which, if you have shitty side effects from it or simply want to be off of it sooner rather than later, can be bad.

To be anecdotal about it, Xanax made me want more Xanax and gave me bounceback anxiety pretty quickly. Meaning, a few hours later I was just as anxious (if not more). Meaning waking up in the middle of the night freaking out. For that reason, I, personally, would not take it again.

A doctor should be helping you make any decision about it, though. We don't know what it's for or your history or anything.
posted by the young rope-rider at 4:05 PM on May 9, 2011

Xanax feels better, if you're having an acute panic attack. Valium lasts longer in your system, but isn't quite as useful for that feeling of "Yes I am having a heart attack and going crazy and will die now please."

Xanax has the bitterest, most awful taste in the world if you let it dissolve under your tongue, but is taken up faster that way, which is helpful for acute attacks. I haven't tried Valium that way (Klonopin tastes slightly less bad, in my experience, but is longer-lasting like Valium, but you didn't ask about Klonopin).

The generic versions have no real difference. Shapes and colors vary.

The longer the half-life, the easier the medication is to obtain from a doctor, because of concerns over addiction or recreational use.

These drugs are not, of course, for recreational use. Aside from any safety or addiction concern, there is also the moral one: Too many people using them as play drugs means they're a lot harder to get prescribed when you actually need them, without running the gauntlet of raised doctor eyebrows and worries over 'drug-seeking' behavior.

As always, ask your doctor (just be prepared to explain in detail).
posted by mittens at 5:03 PM on May 9, 2011

Different half life. Xanax hits you harder, faster, and wears off sooner.

Xanax is, I think, more common for something like a panic attack when taking off or landing in an airplane. Valium is usually used for longer-term conditions, although with dependence/tolerance issues it's still not a good idea for a chronic, persistent problem.
posted by J. Wilson at 5:17 PM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

@mittens: Valium doesn't taste too bad if taken under the tongue. Of course, I'm comparing it to generic somas, which taste vile.
posted by luckynerd at 8:03 PM on May 9, 2011

I find Xanax very useful to arrest an anxiety attack, and on rare occasions, to get through a predictably very stressful event. Fast- and short-acting is preferable for me in these instances.

I find Valium to be useful for muscle spasms, better than flexeril.

Both have dependency issues.
posted by theora55 at 8:34 PM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you were a balloon with too much air in you, xanax would be like letting some of the air out and valium would be like replacing some of that air with helium.
I have taken both for anxiety and xanax doesn't feel like it does anything but then you notice that you aren't flipping out anymore, while valium makes you feel like the world has honey poured over it and you want to go to sleep.
posted by rmless at 9:25 PM on May 9, 2011

Xanax (oxazepam) is stronger and is more a sleeping tablet, but some people take it for panic & anxiety attacks.

Valium (diazepam) is - as theora55 says - more in the way of a muscle relaxant. It still has sedative properties but these are fairly mild at modest doses.

They both belong to the benzodiazepine family
posted by peacay at 4:31 AM on May 10, 2011

xanax doesn't feel like it does anything but then you notice that you aren't flipping out anymore
This exactly mirrors my one experience with it, while studying for my second (and last possible) attempt at passing my PhD oral exams. I was able to study, and able to pass, without having a panic attack like I did the first attempt. I just felt normal.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:09 AM on May 10, 2011

Yea I take Xanax when I'm ready to cry, punch everyone, and drive off a cliff and within 10 minutes I'm happily responding to work emails. Valium makes me feel like how stereotypical stoners are portrayed in teh movies and lasts most of the waking day.
posted by WeekendJen at 9:41 AM on May 10, 2011

Xanax is not oxazepam - it's alprazolam.

Xanax is stronger acting, and has a stronger physiological effect. It has a relatively short metabolic half-life.

Valium has a much much longer metabolic half life.

Opnions are subjective - some people in this thread say Xanax feels like "nothing" but their panic subsides, wheras with valium they feel something.

I'd relate that for me xanax has a noticeable effect beyond anxiety reduction, but something like lorazepam (ativan) has seemingly no noticeable effect other than an even faster reduction in anxiety - especially the type designed for sub-lingual administration. (That's discounting the obvious clumsiness that comes with increased dosages in all cases)

I believe lorazepam is generally considered more appropriate for dealing with acute anxiety attacks due to it's extremely rapid onset and anxiolytic properties.

In all cases, of course, prolonged or high dosage usage of all of the above should be handled with acution - the potential withdrawal effects from these can be extremely unpleasant, to the point of seriously life threatening in extreme cases.
posted by TravellingDen at 7:37 PM on May 10, 2011

Thanks all for the insight.
posted by longsleeves at 8:10 PM on May 14, 2011

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