Valium Or Xanax For Flying? A Detailed Comparison

Flying can be a stressful experience for many people. The thought of being trapped in a metal tube miles above the ground is enough to trigger anxiety and panic in even the most seasoned travelers. If you’re one of the many who dread air travel, you may be wondering if taking a sedative like Valium or Xanax can help ease your nerves.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Both Valium and Xanax can help with anxiety when flying, but Xanax acts faster while Valium lasts longer. Overall, Valium may be a better choice for flights since the effects align more closely with the duration of most flights.

In this comprehensive 3000+ word guide, we’ll compare Valium and Xanax head-to-head so you can decide which one is right for you. We’ll cover everything from how they work, dosage, duration of effects, side effects, interactions, and tips for getting a prescription.

How Valium and Xanax Work

Valium and Xanax are both medications that belong to a class of drugs called benzodiazepines. These medications work by enhancing the effects of a neurotransmitter in the brain called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA).

GABA is responsible for reducing the activity of neurons, which helps to calm the brain and central nervous system. By increasing the activity of GABA, Valium and Xanax produce a sedative effect, which can help to alleviate anxiety and promote relaxation.

Mechanism of action

Valium (diazepam) works by binding to specific receptors in the brain that are associated with GABA. This enhances the inhibitory effects of GABA, resulting in a decrease in brain activity and a calming effect on the body.

Xanax (alprazolam), on the other hand, works in a similar way but has a more potent effect. It binds to the same receptors as Valium but with greater affinity, leading to a faster onset of action and a stronger sedative effect.

It’s important to note that both Valium and Xanax can cause drowsiness and impair cognitive function. Therefore, it is recommended to avoid activities such as driving or operating heavy machinery while taking these medications.

Onset and duration

The onset of action and duration of effect can vary between Valium and Xanax. Valium typically has a longer onset of action, meaning it takes longer to start working in the body. However, once it takes effect, the sedative effects can last for a longer duration, up to several hours.

Xanax, on the other hand, has a faster onset of action, with effects typically felt within 15-30 minutes after ingestion. However, the duration of effect is shorter, typically lasting for about 4-6 hours.

It’s worth mentioning that the specific onset and duration of action may vary depending on factors such as individual metabolism, dosage, and other individual characteristics. It is always best to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the most appropriate medication and dosage for your specific needs.

Uses for Valium and Xanax

Approved medical uses

Both Valium and Xanax are prescription medications belonging to the benzodiazepine class of drugs. They are primarily used to treat anxiety disorders, panic disorders, and insomnia. Valium, also known as diazepam, is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the short-term relief of anxiety symptoms.

It can also be used to treat muscle spasms, seizures, and alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

Xanax, on the other hand, is approved by the FDA for the management of anxiety disorders and panic disorder. It is commonly prescribed for the short-term treatment of anxiety symptoms and can provide quick relief for those experiencing acute anxiety or panic attacks.

Off-label and recreational uses

While both Valium and Xanax have approved medical uses, they are also sometimes used off-label for other conditions. Some doctors may prescribe Valium off-label to help with the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or as a muscle relaxant.

Xanax may be prescribed off-label for social anxiety disorder or as a sleep aid.

It’s important to note that both Valium and Xanax have the potential for abuse and are sometimes used recreationally. Misuse of these medications can lead to dependence, addiction, and other serious health consequences.

It is always crucial to take these medications only as prescribed by a healthcare professional and to follow their instructions carefully.

For more information on the approved medical uses of Valium, you can visit the FDA website.

For more information on the approved medical uses of Xanax, you can visit the FDA website.

Dosage Guidelines

When it comes to taking medication for anxiety or panic attacks while flying, it is important to follow the recommended dosage guidelines. Both Valium and Xanax are commonly prescribed medications for these purposes, but the dosage can vary depending on individual factors such as tolerance, severity of symptoms, and overall health.

Standard dosage

The standard dosage of Valium (diazepam) typically ranges from 2mg to 10mg, taken two to four times a day. However, it is essential to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the appropriate dosage for your specific needs.

They will consider factors such as your medical history and any other medications you may be taking.

Xanax (alprazolam) also has a standard dosage range of 0.25mg to 2mg, taken two to four times a day. Again, it is crucial to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the most suitable dosage for your situation.

Dosage for flying

When it comes to taking Valium or Xanax specifically for flying, the dosage may be adjusted slightly. It is generally recommended to start with a lower dose to assess its effects and adjust accordingly.

This is because the sedative effects of these medications can be more pronounced at higher altitudes, and individual responses may vary.

For Valium, a starting dose of 2mg to 5mg may be sufficient for most people. However, if you have a higher level of anxiety or a history of panic attacks during flights, a higher dose may be necessary.

It is essential to discuss your specific needs with a healthcare professional to ensure an appropriate dosage.

Similarly, for Xanax, a starting dose of 0.25mg to 0.5mg is common for flying. Again, the dosage may need to be adjusted based on individual factors and the severity of symptoms.

Starting at a low dose

Regardless of whether you choose Valium or Xanax for flying, it is generally recommended to start at a low dose and gradually increase if needed. This approach allows you to assess the medication’s effects and minimize the risk of adverse reactions.

It is important to note that both Valium and Xanax are prescription medications, and it is essential to consult with a healthcare professional before taking them. They will guide you on the appropriate dosage based on your specific needs and monitor your progress to ensure optimal results.

For more information on anxiety medications and their dosage guidelines, you can visit websites such as Mayo Clinic or WebMD.

Side Effects and Safety Concerns

When it comes to taking medication for flying anxiety, it’s important to consider the potential side effects and safety concerns associated with both Valium and Xanax. While these medications can be effective in reducing anxiety, they do come with some risks.

Common side effects

Both Valium and Xanax can cause common side effects, such as drowsiness, dizziness, and confusion. These side effects can impair your ability to drive or operate machinery, so it’s important to avoid activities that require mental alertness until you know how these medications affect you.

Additionally, some individuals may experience headaches, nausea, or changes in appetite.

Risk of dependence and addiction

One of the main concerns with Valium and Xanax is the risk of dependence and addiction. These medications belong to a class of drugs called benzodiazepines, which have the potential to be habit-forming. Prolonged use or misuse of these medications can lead to physical and psychological dependence.

It’s important to use them as prescribed and under the guidance of a healthcare professional to minimize the risk of dependence.

Overdose potential

Another safety concern with Valium and Xanax is the potential for overdose. Taking these medications in higher doses than prescribed or combining them with other substances, such as alcohol, can increase the risk of overdose.

Symptoms of an overdose may include severe drowsiness, slowed breathing, and even loss of consciousness. If you suspect an overdose, seek immediate medical attention.

Drug interactions

Both Valium and Xanax can interact with other medications, herbal supplements, and alcohol. These interactions can potentially increase the sedative effects of the medications or lead to other adverse reactions.

It’s important to inform your healthcare provider about all the medications and supplements you are taking before starting either Valium or Xanax.

It is highly recommended to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any medication, including Valium or Xanax, to discuss the potential side effects, safety concerns, and to determine which option is best suited for your specific situation.

Tips for Getting a Prescription

See your doctor

If you are considering taking Valium or Xanax for flying, the first step is to see your doctor. They will be able to evaluate your specific situation and determine if a prescription is necessary. Your doctor will also be able to provide guidance on which medication may be more suitable for you based on your medical history and any pre-existing conditions.

Be prepared to discuss your medical history

When discussing your medical history with your doctor, it is important to be open and honest about your symptoms and any previous experiences with anxiety or panic attacks. This information will help your doctor make an informed decision about whether Valium or Xanax is the right choice for you.

Additionally, they may ask about any medications you are currently taking to ensure there are no potential interactions.

Alternative prescriptions

While Valium and Xanax are commonly prescribed medications for anxiety, there are alternative options that your doctor may consider. These can include medications such as Ativan or Klonopin, which have similar effects and are also used to treat anxiety and panic disorders.

Your doctor will be able to assess your individual needs and determine the best course of treatment for you.


When it comes to choosing between Valium and Xanax for flying, there are pros and cons to both medications. Valium lasts longer but may cause next-day drowsiness, while Xanax acts faster but wears off sooner.

Ultimately, your doctor will help determine which drug is the better fit based on your medical history and needs.

The most important thing is being completely open with your doctor about your flying anxiety and past medication use. Never increase your dose or take more than prescribed. With some preparation and the right medication, your next flight can be relaxing rather than stressful.

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