Clorazepate Symptoms and Warning Signs

Clorazepate is used to treat certain types of seizures, symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, and anxiety disorders. It is typically sold under the brand name Tranxene. It affects the central nervous system (CNS), like other benzodiazepines, causing some functions of the brain to slow down.

Tranxene can easily lead to dependency and addiction, therefore, it is important to be careful when using it.

Recognising the Common Warning Signs of Clorazepate Abuse

If you have a prescription for this drug, there is a good chance your physician recommended it for short-term use. The reason for this is that the medication is habit-forming, and can cause you to develop a dependency in no time at all. Since it tends to lose its efficacy over time, you may be tempted to increase your dosage, or use the drug for longer than prescribed. Doing so is abuse.

Some of the signs of abuse to look out for include acting as if in a stupor, poor concentration, confusion, coordination problems, slurred speech, slow reaction time, cognitive and memory problems, and seeming drowsy at odd times.

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The Dangers of Clorazepate Abuse

The dangers include abdominal problems, such as abdominal cramping, diarrhoea, vomiting, nausea, and issues with digestion. If you have abused the drug for an extended period of time, these abdominal problems can become more chronic issues, such as a hiatus hernia, diverticulitis, or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Another quite severe side-effect is liver failure, which can occur even though benzodiazepines are not usually toxic to the liver. When the drug is taken in large doses, or you are already having problems with an alcohol use disorder, you could suffer significant damage. It can also increase liver toxicity if you already have some degree of damage to this organ.

Another crucial bodily system that can be affected is the endocrine system. The drug can affect the pituitary gland, and the hypothalamus, in ways that can result in hormonal imbalances. Such imbalances can lead to changes in the menstrual cycle, breast growth in males, weight loss or gain, and mood disturbances, among other effects.

Recognising a Clorazepate Addiction

Addiction is a chronic disease of the brain, which causes compulsive consumption of a substance, even when the user is aware of the negative consequences of their behaviour, it is difficult to hide an addiction to any type of benzodiazepine. If you suspect that you, or a loved one, may have an addiction, you should look out for the signs to be sure. Bear in mind that one does not have to exhibit all of the signs to be addicted.

Signs of addiction include: engaging in risky behaviour simply to obtain clorazepate, stealing money to buy the medication or stealing the medication itself, getting irritated or aggressive when asked about their clorazepate consumption, neglecting responsibilities, going to different doctors in order to obtain multiple prescriptions a.k.a. ‘doctor shopping’, being unable to stop taking the drug even though they want to, and obsessing about when they’ll be able to take the next dose.

Clorazepate Addiction and the Brain

Benzodiazepines have powerful effects on the brain, which can include changes to behaviour, emotions, and mood. One of the changes in the mental state that can occur is oversedation, which may be a result of intentionally avoiding sleep after using the drug, or taking too much of it in order to trigger a ‘high’. Oversedation may also be accidental, for instance, if you did not get enough sleep for the medication to wear off entirely, or if the prescribed dose is too high for you.

Clorazepate affects a neurotransmitter in the brain called GABA. GABA naturally produces a calming effect, which reduces seizure activity and anxiety. A deficiency of this neurotransmitter could cause you to experience anxiety but, by using this medication, GABA levels can be balanced out.

While the hypnotic and sedative qualities of the drug can help you sleep better or reduce anxiety, they can also lead to delirium in particularly high doses, confusion, poor concentration, and poor coordination. Other potential issues include memory problems such as blackouts and amnesia, rebound anxiety, panic attacks and insomnia, anhedonia or depression, and an increased likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Learn the Immediate Side Effects of Clorazepate Abuse

  • inability to concentrate
  • confusion
  • problems with coordination
  • slurred speech
  • delayed reaction
  • memory and cognitive issues
  • seeming to be in a stupor
  • appearing to be drowsy even during the day

Other side effects that may occur include tremors, depression, diplopia, genitourinary complaints, ataxia, fatigue, transient skin rashes, insomnia, headaches, dry mouth, blurred vision, nervousness and dizziness. In some cases, there may be a drop in systolic blood pressure.

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Learn the Long Term Clorazepate Abuse Side Effects

If you, or someone you know, has been abusing Clorazepate on a long-term basis, some of the side effects experienced may be heightened forms of the short-term side effects: while you may begin to sleep better when you first start using the drug, you may sleep worse a few months down the line. In addition to being unable to sleep, you may experience suicidal thoughts, panic attacks, nervousness, or irritability.

There is also the possibility of suffering cognitive deterioration, especially if you are elderly. Other problems may include impaired memory and attention, problems expressing emotions, alterations in mental health or mood, depression, and gastrointestinal problems. There’s also the possibility of developing problems with your liver, even to the point of failure.

Intervention for a Clorazepate Addiction

If you have a friend or loved one who is dealing with an addiction to clorazepate, the first thing you’ll do is try to talk to them. However, it can get frustrating if you never seem to make any progress with them, no matter how often you talk to them about their addiction. It may be time to get help if you are beginning to feel frustrated.

You can secure the help of a professional interventionist, who can speed up entry into a rehab facility by working with you to convince your friend, colleague, or relative, to get treatment. The interventionist will coach you and other relatives, friends or colleagues of the person involved, on how best to approach and convince them to get treatment. You won’t have to do it on your own, because this professional will also be present and may step in if the need arises.

Involving a third party is also useful in the way that they can see the situation from aside and are by no means emotionally attached to the possible arguments, hence being able to intervene objectively.

Detox and Withdrawal from Clorazepate

Withdrawal refers to a situation in which the body reacts to the removal of a drug upon which it has become dependent. Unfortunately, it is possible to be dependent and not addicted to a substance but still be unable to quit due to withdrawal symptoms. The onset of withdrawal can drive you right back to substance use until it becomes a full-blown addiction.

Some symptoms include:

  • convulsions
  • delirium
  • tremor
  • abdominal and muscle cramps
  • vomiting
  • sweating

Detox under medical supervision ensures your safety and comfort, as well as increasing your chances of recovery in the long term. Medical supervision can also be particularly important if you are dependent on multiple drugs, or if you have any co-occurring mental health conditions that need to be addressed.

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Treatment and the Next Steps for Clorazepate Addiction

The undeniable first step to beating an addiction is getting the appropriate treatment. You can either get in touch with an addiction rehabilitation centre, a medical practitioner, or an addiction counsellor. Once you get into a treatment programme, a physician will work with you to come up with a programme to help you get off the drug. In most cases, this will involve the use of a tapering schedule lasting weeks or months, during which you will be gradually weaned off Tranxene.

While the tapering method may seem slow, it is actually the best approach to detox because it helps to reduce withdrawal symptoms by allowing your body to adjust gradually, and learn how to manage triggers on its own. Once detox is successfully completed, you will typically be encouraged to progress into a rehabilitation programme, which will involve therapy.

It is during therapy that the deep-rooted issues associated with your substance use disorder can be identified and addressed. Therapy may take on different forms, including individual, group, and family therapy, among others.

Questions about Treatment

Can anyone tell I am using Clorazepate?

Yes, once they are aware of the signs and symptoms of clorazepate abuse, anyone will be able to tell if you are abusing the drug, especially if they live with you.

Can I find free help?

Some addiction clinics work with the NHS and they are free to attend. However, waiting lists are extensive, and many addicts prefer to sign-up privately and pay either on instalments, via a private insurance policy or through a bank credit, if they cannot afford the fees.

Is it possible to prevent Clorazepate abuse symptoms?

Yes, you can prevent clorazepate abuse symptoms by sticking to the prescription provided by your doctor, and never taking the drug if it was not prescribed to you in the first place.

How can I prevent the signs and symptoms of addiction withdrawal?

Medical detox is the preferred way to deal with withdrawal because benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms can be some of the most serious and, in some cases, can be life-threatening. Therefore, if you have been taking clorazepate for a long period of time, or in particularly high doses, it is best to speak to a medical practitioner before you attempt to detox.

Can Clorazepate abuse cause death?

Yes, Clorazepate abuse can result in fatality if it is combined with other CNS depressants, such as barbiturates, opioids, and alcohol. By combining these substances, an overdose may occur, leading to a coma, or even death.

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