Oxazepam, otherwise known as Serax, is a prescription antidepressant that’s commonly prescribed by doctors to treat conditions such as insomnia and anxiety. As a benzodiazepine, it has a calming effect on the brain by slowing down the transmission between neurons. This is a common way for these kinds of drugs to treat depressive or anxiety symptoms. However, as it is a slow-release drug, it is very easy for the brain to develop a tolerance to it more quickly than is healthy.
Physicians recommend taking oxazepam only on a short-term basis. Because oxazepam is addictive, there’s the chance that someone could become dependent on the drug. Then, when they want to stop taking the drug, they could experience withdrawal symptoms. In such a case, the body begins to detox the toxins associated with the drug in preparation for the body to come back into balance.
A host of symptoms might be experienced during oxazepam withdrawal. In general, not all of these symptoms will be experienced at once, and the severity of the symptoms may be exacerbated if the person has a higher addiction to oxazepam. Those who aren’t as heavily addicted to the drug will likely experience a less intense withdrawal.
The symptoms expected to be encountered in oxazepam withdrawal are:
In general, the more minor symptoms, such as insomnia, sweats or shaking, will be experienced earlier in the withdrawal period. Major symptoms, such as nightmares and nausea, typically appear later in the withdrawal process. All of these symptoms should lessen as withdrawal proceeds, eventually leaving entirely once the body has become used to a lack of oxazepam in the system.
There is no set timeline for oxazepam withdrawal. Those who have higher levels of the drug in their system will likely have a longer withdrawal period, while the reverse is true for those with lesser levels. However, most oxazepam withdrawals occur between one and two weeks, with the beginning of both weeks tending to be the most difficult to progress through.
The pace at which you go through detox and the intensity of symptoms will be different for each person, depending on factors such as:
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In as little as one day after taking the last dose of oxazepam, withdrawal symptoms will most likely set in. These will be more minor symptoms such as anxiety or sweating. The craving for the drug will be very intense during this period, and support from medical personnel or family is recommended for the entire process.
During this stage, physical symptoms are likely to decrease some. Psychological symptoms, such as anxiety or insomnia, may return with high intensity, leading into a rebound phase as the second week of detoxification begins.
At the beginning of the second week, you may experience a sudden resurgence of physical and psychological symptoms. Some serious side effects may arise, such as muscle cramps and spasms. This period of detoxification is critical, as the desire for oxazepam can be very high while the discomfort grows to intense levels.
The physical symptoms experienced earlier should fade through this period. In general, users will find withdrawal to be decreasing nicely in this time frame.
By the third week, most or all of the withdrawal symptoms may subside, depending on your taper schedule. However, a condition known as post-acute oxazepam withdrawal may manifest. This can result in intense psychological symptoms such as depression, cravings, and irritability. If this occurs during detox, continued treatment with substance abuse professionals is recommended.
Oxazepam addiction can eventually lead to a high tolerance in the brain. Since this drug slows transmission between neurons, this can modify the brain or cause cognitive impairment that might last for longer than addiction itself. Some long-term uses of oxazepam have led to chronic illnesses.
You may also develop conditions such as memory loss or amnesia, as well as have possible thoughts of suicide. Thus, taking the necessary steps to detox and receive addiction treatment is necessary.
Detoxification is an important step to eventual sobriety, but it should never be done with the “cold turkey” method. This involves quitting oxazepam immediately and may shock the body and brain, which can cause further health complications. Instead, oxazepam detoxification should be done under the supervision of a doctor through a “tapering” method by which the person’s usage of the drug is slowly lowered over time, allowing the brain to get used to life without it.
Once detoxification is complete, there are three major methods by which users in recovery can continue their treatment and recovery. They each have individual advantages and disadvantages, making them ideal for different kinds of people in oxazepam recovery.
During inpatient treatment, users remain under medical supervision at a treatment facility for the duration of their withdrawal and aftercare. Full support from medical staff and substance abuse professionals are available around the clock during the stay. Clients are monitored and led through a strict regimen designed to reduce the risk of relapse and establish healthy behavior. This is a good option for those who have difficult home lives or a high risk of relapse.
Outpatient treatment involves the patient meeting their doctors and mental health professionals at a clinic several times a week at pre-decided times. They help to set their schedule and maintain their lives and jobs while still receiving professional help. This is a good option for people who cannot afford to take an extended leave at once.
The final option, an intensive outpatient program (IOP), revolves around a more regimented and monitored plan for the patient while allowing them to live at home. The treatment will be more heavily decided by caregivers and is something of an in-between option for those who want extra support from their doctors but don’t want to live at the treatment center for the duration of their treatment.
Whether you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, the way to health and a bright future is always available. The first step might be challenging, but it’s a path that’s always worth taking.
Overcoming oxazepam addiction is not something you have to try to do on your own. We’re here, and we care. The door to recovery is open to you; all you have to do is step through.
Web MD. Oxazepam. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-8347/oxazepam-oral/details
MedicalNewsToday. (2019, March 7) The benefits and risks of benzodiazepines. Nordqvist, J. Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/262809
U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2017, April 15) MedlinePlus. Oxazepam. Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682050.html
Everyday Health. (2016, September 28) What is Oxazepam? Retrieved from https://www.everydayhealth.com/drugs/oxazepam
Harvard Health Publishing Harvard Medical School. (2013 December) The savvy sleeper: Wean yourself off sleep aids. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-savvy-sleeper-wean-yourself-off-sleep-aids