Prescription drugs are an enormous topic of discussion in the U.S. and also an issue causing fear and anxiety for many people. In the past decade, drug overdose deaths have spiked tremendously in the U.S., and most of these have been accidental. Even more frightening is the fact that people are suffering from addiction and ultimately overdosing because of drugs they’re told to take by their doctor.

Valium and Xanax Together

Of course, that scenario doesn’t describe everyone who uses prescription drugs; there are recreational users who start out abusing these substances, but for many people this isn’t the objective. It’s a natural tendency to feel like a drug prescribed by a physician is safe. Even when people don’t have a prescription and borrow these medicines from a friend or family member, they think medicine can’t be that harmful. Unfortunately, this is untrue. It’s taken a huge uptick in overdose deaths for even doctors to realize the risks many prescription medications carry. There’s more of an effort to ensure that doctors and patients fully understand the risks of medications. There’s also more attention paid to making sure drugs are properly labeled and carry accurate warnings.

Along with the prescription drugs themselves, there’s another trend contributing to overdoses and fatalities: an increase in combining multiple drugs at the same time. This can include combining drugs from the same class or different classes of drugs. With some drug combinations (e.g., mixing Valium and Xanax), the effects of both are amplified, which increases the likelihood of an addiction developing. Combining certain drugs also makes severe side effects or an overdose more likely.

Valium is a brand-name drug available under the generic name diazepam. It’s classified as a benzodiazepine, used for the short-term treatment of symptoms related to severe anxiety disorders and insomnia. In some cases, Valium is used for alcohol withdrawal treatment and to help with seizures. It can also prevent muscle spasms and sedate patients before a procedure.

Side effects of Valium may include drowsiness, sedation, dizziness or blurred vision. While these are fairly common side effects, it’s important to keep an eye on them. If they continue for a prolonged period, users should get in touch with their physician. Severe side effects can include changes in mood, hallucinations, signs of depression, tremors, problems walking or muscle weakness.

Xanax is one of the most widely prescribed psychiatric drugs in the U.S., also belonging to the benzodiazepine class. While millions of people are prescribed Xanax each year, far more than that abuse it recreationally. Xanax is habit-forming, and as a result, it’s advised that it be prescribed for only two to four weeks to lower this risk. The longer someone uses Xanax the more likely they are to become addicted. People who use it recreationally are more likely to become addicted as well.
Benzodiazepines have a unique mechanism of action. They affect GABA levels in the brain and body of the user. GABA is an important neurotransmitter responsible for keeping neuron activity at a calm, stabilized level. In people with anxiety disorders, there may be a deficiency of GABA. For the most part, in people who take benzos as prescribed the risk of addiction and dependence is somewhat low, though still possible. Along with Valium and Xanax, there are more than a dozen other types of benzos. Specific conditions they can treat include generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety, acute agitation and insomnia  (but only in the short-term).

While Valium and Xanax belong to the same drug class and have many similarities, they also have distinct differences. One of the biggest differences between Valium and Xanax is how quickly they start to work. Xanax is considered a relatively fast-acting benzo, while Valium is longer-acting. Xanax reaches its peak level of concentration in about 30 minutes, and it has a half-life of 12 to 14 hours. Valium has a half-life of around 35 hours. Xanax is metabolized much faster than Valium and leaves the body of the user more quickly. Also, Xanax can be used to treat panic disorder since it’s fast-acting, but Valium isn’t approved for that use. Because of the differences in their half-life and how quickly they work, Xanax is considered slightly more addictive than Valium.

Both Valium and Xanax have similar effects and side effects. If you take them together, you’re more likely to experience an overdose that can be fatal. When Valium and Xanax are taken together, it can also make shared symptoms worse. For example, fatigue, depression, headache, confusion, fainting or irritability could all be made worse by combining Valium and Xanax. Some of the symptoms of a benzo overdose include extreme exhaustion or confusion, impaired coordination or comatose states. There is no reason to take Valium and Xanax together, and the dangers or mixing them recreationally do not in any way outweigh the benefits.

Do you feel like you’re struggling with Xanax, Valium or another prescription drug? Do you have a loved one who’s showing signs of addiction or dependence? The Recovery Village is one of the nation’s top resources to help people work toward a successful recovery and a drug-free life, and we’re available to help you learn more.

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.