Synthesized in 1961 and brought to the market four years later, oxazepam provides short-term relief of anxiety. It also treats agitation, irritability, and tension.
Compared to highly potent benzodiazepines like Valium, Klonopin, and Halcion, oxazepam is weaker and shorter-acting.
These attributes lend this oxazepam a veneer of safeness, a low-level benzodiazepine incapable of producing harmful effects when abused.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Compared to those other benzos, oxazepam may be the equivalent of a coral snake compared to its powerful chemical cousins, which are akin to the king cobra and viper, far deadlier versions of the same species. However, a snake is still a snake. While oxazepam may not be the most potent drug in its class, it is still capable of inducing addiction.
Read on to learn about the array of harmful effects of oxazepam addiction and available treatment options.
Like other benzodiazepines, oxazepam works by enhancing the effects of gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA), the neurotransmitter responsible for inhibiting the central nervous system (CNS). This action generates calm and sedation in a user.
Oxazepam is intended to be a short-term medication to relieve symptoms of anxiety and anxiety-related disorders. As an older medication, oxazepam is mostly available in generic form and comes as an oral capsule. The recommended dose is 10-30 mg (milligrams) by mouth, three to four times daily as needed, according to MedicineNet.
MedlinePlus.gov states that oxazepam can cause side effects, including:
Serious side effects from oxazepam may occur, such as:
The side effects of oxazepam are only the beginning. The drug’s manifold dangers become apparent when you use it for longer than the intended period or at higher-than-recommended doses.
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Before someone develops an addiction to any substance, they will have first exhibited dependence. Dependence occurs when the body gets used to the presence of a drug. Once that drug exits the system, they begin to endure disturbances in the form of withdrawal symptoms.
Along with alcohol, benzodiazepines are capable of producing life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. For benzodiazepines, those life-threatening effects appear as seizures. Though this effect is rare with oxazepam, it can still occur.
According to Drugs.com, oxazepam withdrawal symptoms include:
It’s worth noting that rebound effects like insomnia and anxiety can occur once someone enters withdrawal. \
However, dependence blooms into addiction when someone prioritizes oxazepam over everything else in their lives. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) defines addiction as a chronic, relapsing disorder marked by compulsive drug seeking, persistent use despite adverse consequences, and long-lasting changes to the brain.
Drug addiction can also present itself through the following and behaviors and signs, according to the Mayo Clinic:
Because benzodiazepines are dangerous in withdrawal, professional treatment is highly recommended.
Instead of going through a cold turkey detox on your own, where you leave yourself susceptible to several harmful effects, professional treatment can offer you a structured, medically supervised detox, psychosocial treatment, and education necessary to help you realize sustained recovery.
Treatment starts with medical detox. During this process, a team of doctors, nurses, and other staff members will remove the oxazepam and other toxins from the body and treat your withdrawal symptoms. This allows for a safe and comfortable withdrawal process that minimizes the threat of symptoms. Detox also provides you mental and physical stabilization.
After detox, the actual mental and emotional aspects of the addiction are addressed through either residential or outpatient treatment, depending on the severity of your case. Residential treatment offers the most intensive level of care. In a residential program, you live onsite at the treatment facility and receive a full-time slate of therapy and care.
What’s more, residential care features evidence-based approaches that include:
Clients can also receive comprehensive therapy and care on a part-time basis through an intensive outpatient program (IOP), which is designed for clients with less severe cases of benzodiazepine abuse.
Proven approaches, such as individual, family, group, and behavioral therapies, are offered at this level.
Once you have completed your treatment program, you can receive ongoing support through a 12-step or SMART Recovery® (Self-Management and Recovery Training) program. Because substance addiction is a lifelong battle, both programs are designed to equip you with the tools necessary to avoid relapse and achieve lasting recovery.
While oxazepam remains a less potent benzodiazepine, it can still produce ruinous overdose effects that resemble acute alcohol intoxication. Coma is also possible. What’s more, the use of oxazepam with alcohol or other sedative medications can result in death.
MedlinePlus.govstates that the following overdose symptoms associated with oxazepam:
If you or a loved one is in the throes of an overdose, please call 911. Overdose can lead to permanent damage or death.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). Drug Overdose Deaths Among Women Aged 30–64 Years – United States, 1999–2017 | MMWR. from https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/68/wr/mm6801a1.htm?s_cid=mm6801a1_w
Drugs.com. (n.d.). Oxazepam: 6 things you should know. from https://www.drugs.com/tips/oxazepam-patient-tips
Mayo Clinic. (2017, October 26). Drug addiction (substance use disorder). from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/drug-addiction/symptoms-causes/syc-20365112
MedlinePlus.gov. (n.d.). Oxazepam: MedlinePlus Drug Information. from https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682050.html
MedlinePlus.gov. (n.d.). Oxazepam overdose: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002516.htm