Oxazepam, which also goes by the brand name Serax, is a prescription benzodiazepine used to treat anxiety and insomnia. Since the drug falls under the benzodiazepine category, it produces a calming effect by slowing down transmissions between neurons in our brain.
It is common for these ailments to be treated with depressant drugs, but as a slow-release substance, you are more likely to develop a tolerance or dependence in a short period. Doctors recommend not using these medicines for more than two weeks at a time, and will not prescribe large amounts.
You may be familiar with the current opioid crisis that has ravaged through our country, but recent studies have described that benzodiazepines are on the verge of becoming our next crisis.
A recent study published by JAMA found that we’ve put so many resources into curtailing prescription opioids, we’ve failed to pay attention to prescriptions for benzodiazepines. Unfortunately, these medications possess the ability to have deadly withdrawal symptoms after moderate use.
There was a surge in prescriptions from 3.8 percent in 2003 to 7.4 percent in 2015. The author of the article describes many scenarios where benzos are prescribed alongside other sedating medications, which can lead to an immediate overdose.
A study from 2018 highlights that risk and demonstrates that when opiates and benzodiazepines are combined, the risk of overdose quintuples in the first 90 days of co-prescribing. We must pay attention to benzodiazepines, and we must be aware of the withdrawal symptoms that accompany these medications.
As you may expect with benzos, physicians will only recommend usage for a short duration. Oxazepam can be addictive even when used as prescribed, and there’s a chance you could become dependent on the medication. If you want to stop using the drug, you will likely experience withdrawal symptoms to some extent. In the event this occurs, the body will begin to force out the toxins associated with the substance to balance the mind and body.
You will experience a host of symptoms during withdrawal, which can range from mild to severe. You will not experience all of the symptoms at once, but it’s likely to occur over a period of time. The symptoms will be exacerbated, depending on the level of addiction to Oxazepam. Those who are less addicted may experience symptoms to a much lesser extent.
These are the symptoms you should expect from Oxazepam withdrawal:
The minor symptoms, such as insomnia or tremors, will occur earlier in the withdrawal phase. The major symptoms, however, are likely to appear later in the withdrawal process. As time progresses, the symptoms will likely dissipate as the drug exits your system.
There is not a predetermined length of time you will experience Oxazepam withdrawal. Those with higher levels of the benzo will likely extend their withdrawal window. The opposite will occur for those with lesser amounts of the drug in their system. The majority, however, will experience symptoms between one and two weeks, with the first week dealing with harsher symptoms.
You may experience symptoms the same day you stop using Oxazepam. The symptoms will be minor, such as anxiety or increased sweat production. The most present sign that you are withdrawing will be cravings for Oxazepam, but support from medical personnel or family can help you overcome these symptoms.
At this phase of withdrawal, the physical symptoms will start to decrease. Symptoms, such as anxiety or insomnia, might still be intense. It may lead to a rebound phase as the second week begins.
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By the second week, you may experience a resurgence of psychological and physical symptoms. Some serious side effects can occur, which include spasms and muscle cramping. It is still possible to experience seizures at this point, and you must be in an environment providing 24-hour care.
Once you’ve reached this point, most withdrawal symptoms will start to subside, depending on the taper schedule you’ve been placed on. You may develop Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS), which is a condition where symptoms can persist for up to six months or longer. Speak with a physician if you experience any of these symptoms.
Benzodiazepine dependence can be dangerous if not adequately treated. Since the medication can slow transmission between neurons, the brain modification may cause cognitive impairment that lasts longer than the addiction itself. Detox is an essential step to eventual long-term sobriety, but it can never be done by yourself. A physician will place you on a proper tapering schedule that will help the brain adjust to life without the presence of Oxazepam.
Once you’ve completed detox, the road to recovery is just beginning. Once the drug has left your system, you must move forward in your recovery to learn the underlying causes of addiction. A treatment center will help you get to the root of your addiction, and therapy sessions will allow you to cope with triggers you are likely to face in your daily routine.
If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction to benzodiazepines like Oxazepam, you must search for treatment tailored to your specific needs. You are only a phone call away from changing your entire life.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. (n.d.). 8: Medical detoxification. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/teaching-packets/understanding-drug-abuse-addiction/section-iii/7-medical-detoxification
Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS). (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.semel.ucla.edu/dual-diagnosis-program/News_and_Resources/PAWS
Penn, A. (2019, February 19). Are Benzodiazepines the Next Opioid Crisis? Retrieved from https://www.psychcongress.com/article/are-benzodiazepines-next-opioid-crisis
Agarwal, S. D. (2019, January 25). Patterns in Outpatient Benzodiazepine Prescribing in the United States. Retrieved from https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2722576
Oxazepam: MedlinePlus Drug Information. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682050.html