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Anxiety is one of the most common mental health illnesses that Americans live with every day. It is estimated that anxiety affects about 40 million people. It is considered highly treatable. Although, roughly 37 percent of those who struggle with anxiety disorders receive treatment for it. 

Anxiety is a natural response to common situations in life, such as the time right before a big test or right before surgery. However, some people experience it in a more severe form, and sometimes, it can take over a person’s life. Anxiety can disrupt many everyday activities, such as work, school, and even relationships. 

There are a few different types of anxiety, which include generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, and phobia-related disorders. 

Oxazepam (brand name Serax) was created for these types of disorders and has been a panacea for many people. It helps people with anxiety disorders feel more balanced. Long-term use can lead to tolerance of the drug, chemical dependency, and even addiction. Oxazepam is a benzodiazepine, which can be just as addictive as opioid medications.

It is necessary to understand what the effects of oxazepam are and how to know if you or someone you know is addicted to it.

What Is Oxazepam?

Oxazepam is a strong benzodiazepine used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders for the short-term. It interacts with the natural chemicals in the brain called gamma-Aminobutyric acid, or GABA. It attaches to GABA receptors that generate excitability in the brain and calms you down when you need to rest, or if someone has a panic attack. 

Oxazepam attaches to a different binding site on the GABA receptor and increases the result of the chemical. When the drug is used for too long or taken in excess, the brain has the potential to get used to the unknown compound. This can cause it to rely on the medication instead of its natural effects.

What Are the Signs of Oxazepam Addiction?

Oxazepam is prescribed for short-term use for people with anxiety disorders. It is an older medication and easier to obtain in generic form than its brand name. It works slower than other benzodiazepines. The slow effect of oxazepam can cause an individual to take too much or take it too frequently — both of which can lead to harmful health effects.

As with most medication, there are side effects that come with oxazepam use that are quite noticeable. Among them are:


If someone were to stop taking oxazepam suddenly or cut back the dosage, it could lead to experiencing withdrawal symptoms.

These may include:

Oxazepam withdrawal symptoms can be potentially fatal if left untreated. If you or a loved one wants to cut back or stop using oxazepam or a benzodiazepine, you should first speak to a medical professional about alternatives.

What Is Involved in Oxazepam Addiction Treatment?

Substance abuse treatment begins in a medical detoxification center that helps an individual safely stop using the drug. Detox provides medical 24-hour supervision to mitigate any risks involved with detoxing from oxazepam or benzodiazepines. It is a critical step in the continuum of care. 

The side effects of oxazepam withdrawal can be severe, and it may include seizures or delirium tremens. Medication administered by addiction specialists helps alleviate the symptoms and makes the process more tolerable.

A person admitted to detox will undergo an assessment to see if there are underlying medical and/or psychological conditions.

A dual diagnosis might be given at this time, but it aids in determining the next level of care best suited to the person’s needs. 

Depending on the severity of the addiction, therapy in a partial hospitalization program (PHP) could be determined.

This form of treatment consists of a therapy that is highly structured 20 hours per week, five days per week. When it is complete, the individual can go home at the end of the day. It is an intensive program that works to find the root of the addiction and find sustainable ways to manage it.

Some therapies provided in this setting are:

Residential treatment involves living on-site for up to 90 days. It is geared toward those who might have underlying issues or a need to develop and work on a relapse prevention plan that helps them maintain sobriety for the long-term.

The intensive outpatient program (IOP) is what the American Society of Addiction Medicine defines as the second level of addiction treatment after medical detox. The individual participates in high levels of care during the day and can go home at night. It involves a minimum of nine or more hours of treatment services every week.

No matter where the individual is placed at the start of addiction treatment,  many types of therapy are provided. 

These include:

All forms of addiction therapy are individualized to the person helping them get to the base of their addiction, understand it, and work toward managing life without the substance. The goal is for long-term sobriety and to develop new behaviors.