Oxazepam Symptoms and Warning Signs

Oxazepam is a type of benzodiazepine that is also marketed under the brand name, Serax.  It is a prescription medication, used mostly to treat anxiety and symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. The drug is also applied in the treatment of insomnia to help people sleep. Like other benzodiazepines (or ‘benzos’), Oxazepam has muscle relaxant, hypnotic, sedative, anticonvulsant, and anxiolytic properties. However, its effects are moderate compared to other benzos.

Despite the medicinal benefits of Oxazepam, it does have the potential for abuse. The drug is categorised as a Schedule IV drug in the US, which is equivalent to Class C controlled substances in the UK. This is because while its therapeutic applications are recognised, it isn’t legal to use Oxazepam outside medical advice due to the misuse potential and dangerous consequences.

Oxazepam’s tendency for abuse is lower than other fast acting benzodiazepines like triazolam. However, abusing the drug is easily possible and can lead to severe health and behavioural issues. You might be using the drug under prescription, but it’s not difficult to abuse, because you may want to enjoy its calming benefits a lot longer. Those that take Oxazepam to calm alcohol withdrawal symptoms without medical supervision tend to also abuse the drug.

Abuse of Oxazepam also occurs amongst recreational users who use the drug to prolong the lulling effects of other central nervous system depressants, such as alcohol, opioids, and other benzodiazepines.

If you’ve been using Oxazepam beyond your prescription, it’s important to watch out for signs and symptoms of abuse; consult your doctor the moment you notice any of these warning signs. If a loved one has also been using this drug and exhibits any such signs, help them seek assistance. This article will cover the warning signs of Oxazepam abuse, as well as the symptoms of addiction.

Types of Oxazepam Brands

Oxazepam is marketed under many brand names – the most commonly known being Serax. This formulation comes in 10, 15 and 30mg increments, with each dose used for different purposes and according to the severity of the ailment being treated.

Other branded formulations of Oxazepam include: Alepan, Alepam, Anoxa, Comedormir, Anxiolit, Durazepam, Nozepam, Murelax, Oksazepam, Ox-Pam, Opamox, Oxa-CT, Oxapam, Oxabenz, Oxapax, Oxaze, Oxascand, Oxazepam,, Oxazin, Praxiten, Oxepam, Purata, Serenal, Selars, Serepax, Séresta, Seresta, Serpax, Tazepam, Sobril, Youfei and Vaben.

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How does Oxazepam affect the body?

Oxazepam acts by spiking the activities of Gamma Aminobutyric Acid (GABA) at GABA receptors in the brain. This is a neurochemical that mainly inhibits nerve excitement in the brain and Central Nervous System (CNS). These activities are the main reasons for the onset of anxiety and hyperactivity in the brain, which in turn induces a lack of sleep. When Oxazepam spikes GABA levels, more brain activities will be slowed down, causing calmness and sleepiness to take effect.

However, Oxazepam is not a fast-acting drug. It’s onset of effects is lower than that of most benzodiazepines, according to British studies, making its potential for abuse relatively low. The drug has a half-life of about four to 15 hours, which means it leaves the body slowly.

Although its method of action is rather slow, Oxazepam still has abuse and dependence properties.

Why does Oxazepam have the potential for abuse?

Benzodiazepines in general are designed for short-term use only. This is because taking them over long periods can lead to dependence and dangerous health issues further down the line. Oxazepam is one such benzo with habit-forming properties and abuse potential. Though it affects the body relatively slower than other medications of the same class, it can also induce effects of pleasure and euphoria that can compel users to take the drug in large doses and over an extended period.

Those taking the drug for recreational purposes mostly do so to enhance the euphoric ‘highs’ they get from other CNS depressants, including heroin, alcohol, as well as other benzos and opioids. This means that they might take large doses, since Oxazepam is less potent than other benzodiazepines. Most recreational users also take the drug as a substitute for when they can’t get a hold of their primary benzodiazepine of abuse.

Oxazepam’s potential for tolerance is another reason for abuse. When you take this drug – even legitimately – your body will begin to respond less to standard doses, causing you to take more in order to induce its feelings of calmness and somnolence.

Recognising the Common Warning Signs of Oxazepam Abuse

The warning signs of Oxazepam abuse are similar to those found in other benzodiazepines. If you or a loved one have been taking Oxazepam outside of your prescription, it’s important that you’re alert to notice the signs of abuse in order to catch this issue on time and take appropriate measures. Abusing Oxazepam is a dangerous thing to do. However, it is possible to stave off symptoms of abuse, because Oxazepam is a prescription medication.

Dwelling on this notion can be risky, as you’ll be on the path to potential fatal health complications if you do not discontinue abusing this drug.

For people who misuse Oxazepam for recreational purposes, the effects and signs could be similar to those of alcohol abuse. Abusing Oxazepam can develop easily, with the common practice amongst recreational users being to take it alongside other substances, or when they’re withdrawing from stimulants or alcohol.

Some of the outward symptoms and signs of abuse that you’ll experience on reaching the level of abuse include:

  • Dizziness
  • Slow reflexes
  • Muscle weakness
  • Vertigo
  • Slurred speech
  • Memory and concentration problems
  • Longer hours of sleep
  • Lack of coordination or unsteady walking
  • Seeming confused and drowsy

A number of conditions can affect how the signs and symptoms of abuse will manifest. These include the level of your abuse, the ailment for which Oxazepam was initially taken to treat, your physiology and age. Misusing the drug in conjunction with other harmful substances can also affect the symptoms of abuse. You could experience strong symptoms that overlap with those of the drug with which you’ve combined Oxazepam. This is a serious issue and you should seek help as soon as possible.

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The Dangers of Oxazepam Abuse

Abusing any benzodiazepine is very dangerous. This is because they slow down brain activity more than usual, even after standard doses. Going against medical advice and taking drugs like Oxazepam in large doses – and for long periods – will see your brain and entire body adversely affected.

Two of the most worrying dangers of abusing Oxazepam are addiction and dependence. Taking the drug over a long a period will alter your brain’s wiring to the point that it becomes reliant on Oxazepam for normal function. This means you may begin to need the drug for normal body functions. You could also find it near impossible to fall and stay asleep without Oxazepam in your system. Continued abuse and addiction are a potent recipe for overdose, which can be life-threatening, as you’ll face health issues such as respiratory depression, coma, and even death.

Other dangers of Oxazepam abuse include: the risk of accidents and injuries whilst driving or operating heavy machinery; slowed cognition, which can cause poor performance at work and school; and strained relationships with family and friends, as a result of drowsiness and lack of motivation.

Recognising an Oxazepam Addiction

Taking Oxazepam over a long period can cause you to use the drug habitually. At this point, you’re considered to be addicted to the drug. However, it can be difficult to understand that you’ve become addicted to Oxazepam, as you could see using the drug as just a normal occurrence.

An obvious indicator of addiction is misusing Oxazepam compulsively, despite knowing the associated dangers. You could go to any lengths to source the drug in order to feel comfortable again. Addiction also leads to withdrawal symptoms, such as rebound insomnia, extreme anxiety, headaches, seizures and nausea. These can cause you to urgently crave the drug in order to stave off such symptoms.

If you suspect that a loved one has been using Oxazepam to the point of addiction, look out for signs in behavioural changes, as the user typically tries to hide their withdrawal symptoms from others. Some signs of addiction include:

  • Forging prescriptions
  • ‘Doctor shopping’ for multiple prescriptions
  • Stealing to buy the drug
  • Sudden mood swings
  • Lack of interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • Prioritising Oxazepam use over other responsibilities
  • Always carrying the drug
  • Poor decision-making
  • Reduced academic and work performance
  • Financial difficulties

Oxazepam addiction and the brain

A known result of Oxazepam abuse is addiction and dependence. The former is characterised by an obsessive and compulsive behaviour towards a substance. Addiction is classed as a brain disease, because of changes in brain circuitry that leads to this kind of behaviour.

Oxazepam effects changes in the brain by creating a backlog of GABA – of which continued heightened levels in the body cause the brain to adjust to this phenomenon as the new norm. Because your brain cannot produce this level of GABA on its own, it begins to depend on the presence of Oxazepam for proper functioning. This will cause adverse health effects in the form of withdrawal symptoms when you choose to reduce your intake of the drug or suddenly quit.

You’ll feel compelled to increase your Oxazepam dosage when your body builds tolerance and no longer responds to regular doses. This can lead to overdose, especially when you increase consumption to a level your body won’t be able to handle.

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Learn the Immediate Side Effects of Oxazepam Abuse

Taking Oxazepam in the short-term and under prescription can yield the desired results, without causing substantial damage. However, depending on the dosage and frequency of consumption, you may experience short-term side effects when you take Oxazepam or any of its branded formulations. These side effects include:

  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Drowsiness
  • Forgetfulness

Taking this drug alongside other substances can cause dangerous side-effects – even in the short-term. This could include an exacerbation of side-effects associated with the other drug in question, as well as the onset of other dangerous health issues.

Learn the Long-term Side Effects Oxazepam Abuse

Using Oxazepam in the long-term is never advised. This is because you could easily become dependent and suffer the related dangers of addiction. Most of the side-effects that accompany long-term use include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Slurred slieech
  • Amnesia
  • Loss of coordination
  • Delirium
  • Shallow breathing
  • Coma
  • Inability to wake uli

If you use Oxazepam over a long period to the point of addiction, you’ll also be at risk of withdrawal complications that could prove fatal. These symptoms include convulsions, agitation, anxiety, seizures, suicidal thoughts and actions, as well as muscle cramps. Studies have shown that the long-term abuse of Oxazepam is linked to cases of cancer and liver damage.

Intervention for an Oxazepam Addiction

If your loved one has been abusing Oxazepam for a long time and become addicted, you can help them come to terms with their issues via a well-organised intervention. This involves family members and close friends coming together to highlight how the addict’s addictive behaviours have been affecting their lives and those of others around them.

An expert can carry out the planning procedure and help you come up with an effective intervention. Ensure there is help available once your loved one agrees to tackle their addiction issues.

Detox and Withdrawal from Oxazepam

Detox is a process that involves the elimination of all remnants of Oxazepam from your body when you initiate abstinence. This process is accompanied by a number of discouraging withdrawal symptoms that could cause you to use Oxazepam again if adequate care isn’t taken. However, with medically assisted detox treatment, your withdrawal symptoms will be properly managed and your body assisted to safely expunge all traces of Oxazepam.

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Treatment and Next Steps

Treatment includes a detox programme and rehabilitation. Through rehab, you’ll be taught various coping techniques and behavioural therapies that will help you recondition your life to live free from Oxazepam. Other alternative measures will be employed to help you tackle any issues that may have caused your addiction and abuse.


Is treatment safe and effective?

Yes. Treatment can help you turn your life around so you can live a free from the negative influence of Oxazepam.

What is the duration of treatment?

The duration of treatment will depend on the level of your abuse and addiction to Oxazepam; the presence of any other co-occurring mental issues; the type of treatment you undertake; and how you respond to treatment. Rehab typically lasts for 30, 60 and 90 days, but how long it takes will ultimately depend on your individual situation.

What type of treatment is right for me?

The ideal treatment for you will depend on your state of addiction, health condition, and living circumstances. Doctors will perform an evaluation to devise an appropriate treatment plan for you.

What is the cost of treatment?

The cost of treatment will vary, according to the duration, as well as the type of treatment and rehab centre. Contact your rehab centre or an addiction helpline to receive guidelines on treatment costs.

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