Percocet and Valium are two common prescription drugs that have a high risk for abuse, addiction, and overdose when used by themselves or together.
Valium is the brand name of the medication diazepam. Valium is classified as a benzodiazepine — sometimes called a “benzo” — and it is a sedative that is used to manage various conditions, including anxiety, insomnia, muscle spasm disorders, and seizure disorders.
For many years, these medications have been prescribed together for various health conditions; however, increasingly common cases of misuse and abuse of these medications occur. Because the combination of opioids and benzodiazepines is commonly linked to abuse and deadly overdoses, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended that doctors avoid prescribing opioids and benzodiazepines together whenever possible.
Understanding the difference between Valium and Percocet and the dangers of mixing these two medications is crucial to recognizing Percocet addiction and Valium addiction to provide intervention during the early stages of addiction and prevent potentially tragic outcomes.
What Is Percocet?
Percocet is a brand-name medication that is a combination of two medications, oxycodone, and acetaminophen. Oxycodone is an opioid and achieves its action as a pain reliever by affecting how the brain and body respond to the sensation of pain.
Along with providing pain relief, oxycodone also reduces feelings of anxiousness and promotes feelings of relaxation and euphoria. Acetaminophen is a medication found in prescription and over-the-counter medications that acts as a pain reliever and a fever reducer. Because Percocet contains oxycodone, it has a high risk for misuse, addiction and overdose due to the euphoric feelings, commonly known as the high, that the medication causes.
What Is Percocet Used For?
Percocet is used in the management of moderate to severe pain in various health conditions. It is most commonly used in the short-term management of pain due to injuries or surgeries. However, it is also frequently prescribed for use in the long-term management of breakthrough (sporadic and sudden) pain from cancer, or chronic pain. Although Percocet is very effective at relieving pain, it has many serious side effects.
Percocet side effects include:
- Constipation due to a slowing of the digestion processes
- Severe drop in blood pressure when standing up or sitting down
- Itchy or flushed skin
- Increased sweating
- Addictive properties leading to misuse and abuse
- Physical dependence which will result in withdrawal symptoms upon abrupt discontinuation
- Difficulty breathing due to suppressed action in the parts of the brain that control breathing
- Suppression of the cough reflex
- Liver toxicity
- Serious injuries and death from overdose due to decreased breathing
What Is Valium?
Valium is the brand name for diazepam. Diazepam is a benzodiazepine that reduces anxiety and acts as a sedative, muscle relaxant and anticonvulsant. Diazepam achieves these effects by enhancing the action of a specific chemical in the brain that reduces the activity of certain nerves and neurons. Because Valium is a benzodiazepine, it is possible for a person’s body to become dependent on the medication and, therefore, become addicted.
What Is Valium Used For?
Valium treats anxiety disorders and offers short-term relief of the symptoms of anxiety. Valium is also used during the treatment of alcohol withdrawal to decrease tremors, agitation and alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
Valium has been used in combination with other medications for the management of muscle spasms and seizure disorders. It is recommended that clinicians periodically reassess the use of Valium in patients because the long-term effectiveness of Valium has not been studied for periods longer than four months. Long-term use of Valium is not recommended by the manufacturer because, even though Valium is effective for its intended uses, it carries a high risk for addiction, drug interactions, and other side effects.
Valium side effects include:
- Muscle weakness
- Physical dependence which will result in withdrawal symptoms upon abrupt discontinuation
- Serious injuries and death from overdose
Key Differences Between Percocet and Valium
The key difference between Percocet and Valium is their drug classifications and what each drug treats. Percocet is an opioid used in pain management and Valium is a sedative used, primarily, in the treatment of anxiety as well as other health conditions. Even though these medications are very different in how they act and what they are used for, they both fall under the general category termed central nervous system depressants, or “CNS depressants.”
Essentially, CNS depressants are medications or substances that cause a slowing of certain brain processes and functions. Commonly used CNS depressants include opioids, benzodiazepines, and alcohol. When any of these substances are used together, their effects of reducing the activity of certain functions of the brain will be intensified, making it very dangerous to mix these substances.
Dangers of Mixing Benzos and Opioids
Mixing benzodiazepines and opioids, either for intended medical therapy or for recreational misuse, is very dangerous. However, the concurrent use of these medications, both medically and recreationally, continues to be popular.
The National Institutes of Health estimates that more than 30% of overdoses involving opioids also involve benzodiazepines. Also, a recent study concluded that the overdose death rates among patients receiving both types of medications were 10 times higher than overdoses involving opioids alone.
Side Effects of Mixing Percocet and Valium
The mechanisms responsible for the increased risk of coma and death from an overdose of benzos and opioids are profound sedation and respiratory depression.
Respiratory depression is the term used when a person’s breathing rate has decreased. When taken together, the profound sedation that is caused by Valium and the respiratory depression that is caused by Percocet could result in the body not maintaining the necessary levels of oxygen for organs to survive, resulting in coma or death.
It is important to note that one person’s reaction to certain doses of an opioid and a benzodiazepine may vary greatly in comparison to that of another person. Therefore, what may be considered a safe dose for concurrent use with one person can be a fatal dose for another person.
If you or someone you know may be experiencing respiratory depression or have become unconscious after taking Percocet and Valium, call 9-1-1 and seek immediate medical attention.
Key Points: Percocet and Valium
Some important points to keep in mind about Percocet and Valium include:
- Percocet is an opioid medication used in the management of moderate to severe pain
- Valium is a benzodiazepine used in the treatment of anxiety, as well as other health conditions
- Percocet and Valium are both medications that can lead to physical dependence and misuse
- The concurrent use of opioids and benzodiazepines, either for intended medical therapy or for recreational misuse, is very dangerous and can result in profound sedation, respiratory depression, coma and death
- The dose that may be considered safe for one person can be fatal for another person
- If you or someone you know has taken Percocet and Valium together and is experiencing slow breathing or has become unconscious, call 9-1-1 and seek immediate medical attention
If you struggle with drug addiction, The Recovery Village can help. You can receive comprehensive treatment from one of our facilities located throughout the country. To learn more about treatment that could help you, call The Recovery Village to speak with a representative today.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain.” April 2019. Accessed June 13, 2019. Dasgupta N, Funk MJ, Proescholdbell S, Hirsch A, Ribisl KM, Marshall S. “Cohort Study of the Impact of High-Dose Opioid Analgesics on Overdose Mortality.” Pain Medicine (Malden, Mass.), January 2016. Accessed June 13, 2019. The Food and Drug Administration. “FDA requires strong warnings for opioid analgesics, prescription opioid cough products, and benzodiazepine labeling related to serious risks of death from combined use.” August 2016. Accessed June 13, 2019. The Food and Drug Administration. “Percocet.” November 2006. Accessed June 13, 2019. The Food and Drug Administration. “Valium.” December 2016. Accessed June 13, 2019. National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Benzodiazepines and Opioids.” March 2018. Accessed June 13, 2019.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain.” April 2019. Accessed June 13, 2019.
Dasgupta N, Funk MJ, Proescholdbell S, Hirsch A, Ribisl KM, Marshall S. “Cohort Study of the Impact of High-Dose Opioid Analgesics on Overdose Mortality.” Pain Medicine (Malden, Mass.), January 2016. Accessed June 13, 2019.
The Food and Drug Administration. “FDA requires strong warnings for opioid analgesics, prescription opioid cough products, and benzodiazepine labeling related to serious risks of death from combined use.” August 2016. Accessed June 13, 2019.
The Food and Drug Administration. “Percocet.” November 2006. Accessed June 13, 2019.
The Food and Drug Administration. “Valium.” December 2016. Accessed June 13, 2019.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Benzodiazepines and Opioids.” March 2018. Accessed June 13, 2019.