Benzodiazepines (also known as “benzos”) are among the most prescribed depressants in the world. Known for their calming qualities and often prescribed to treat anxiety and insomnia, benzodiazepines can provide many medical benefits when taken properly. On the other hand, benzodiazepines can also be highly addictive and can have lethal side effects when combined with other drugs.
Serax, sold under the brand name Oxazepam, is a commonly prescribed benzodiazepine in the United States. Serax is specifically formulated to help individuals who suffer from insomnia, or who struggle to stay asleep. There have, however, been many reports of individuals developing both chemical and behavioral dependencies on Serax, making it a high risk for withdrawal symptoms.
What is Serax?
Serax is a type of benzodiazepine that was initially sent to the market in 1965. While benzodiazepines are generally intended to treat anxiety or insomnia, not all benzodiazepines are created equally. Serax, for example, is marketed more for insomnia. Its slow-release tablet specifically formulated to be long-lasting and slow-acting, which means although it will not hit your system as quickly as other benzodiazepines, it will last up to twice as long.
Serax’s slow-release tablet is meant to help individuals who are unable to stay asleep through the night. Serax is not a good option for individuals with insomnia that struggle falling asleep in the first place, as it can take a while for the drug to kick in and it is not as potent upfront as other benzodiazepines are. It will, however, last you through a typical night’s sleep.
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With slow-release benzodiazepines such as Serax, it is possible to build a tolerance to the drug. Generally, tolerance is built after long-term use of a drug, six months or longer. However, with Serax and other extended-release or slow-release drugs, tolerance can be built over a shorter amount of time. Since Serax is intended to be taken on a regular basis and not on an as-needed basis, this tolerance will present itself as a typical dose having less of an effect on your body.
Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for doctors to prescribe a higher dose or switch to another benzodiazepine when tolerance to Serax begins to build in your system. While upping the dose or adding another type of benzodiazepine to your regimen may provide an immediate solution when tolerance is present, it is a temporary solution as you will likely build a tolerance to a new or higher dose prescription. This is an unfortunate cycle that is commonly seen in individuals who suffer from benzodiazepine dependence and abuse.
How Do Benzodiazepines Work?
Benzodiazepines account for the most frequently prescribed depressants in the United States. Most commonly, benzodiazepines are intended to treat anxiety, panic attacks, sedation prior to surgery, insomnia, restless leg syndrome, seizures, and even alcohol withdrawal. Although benzodiazepines do not offer the same type of high that opioids provide, such as codeine, their highly sedative properties make them an easy target for abuse. Commonly prescribed benzodiazepines include:
- Xanax (Alprazolam)
- Librium (chlordiazepoxide)
- Tranxene (chlorazepate)
- Klonopin (clonazepam)
- Valium (diazepam)
- Ativan (lorazepam)
Benzodiazepines, known on the streets as ‘benzos’, create this highly sedative state through working with something in the brain known as GABA; gamma-aminobutyric acid. GABA is a naturally occurring inhibiting neurotransmitter in the brain, which means it actually helps to slow down other transmitters in the brain.
A neurotransmitter is simply any chemical in the brain that sends signals, such as pain or emotional distress, to other parts of the central nervous system. When GABA inhibits or slows, other neurotransmitters in the brain, then feelings of anxiety or panic are dulled. This effect is also a tranquilizing effect that can make you feel sedated or sleepy.
When benzodiazepines are introduced into your central nervous system, they actually intensify the natural effect GABA has on your brain. This increased tranquilizing effect can help to treat many cases of anxiety and insomnia. With these increased benefits, however, can also come increased risks.
Withdrawal Symptoms of Serax (Oxazepam)
As stated earlier, benzodiazepines like Serax have a high risk of tolerance. With an increased tolerance to any drug, the user will not get the same effects from one dose as they did when they first started taking the drug. When this happens, it is not uncommon for the user to increase their dose or take it more frequently in an attempt to get back that same feeling.
When taking Serax on a regular basis, a user may feel withdrawal symptoms if they stop taking the drug. Withdrawal symptoms are a sign of physical dependence on a drug, which is a characteristic of addiction. Withdrawal symptoms of Serax, or Oxazepam, include:
- Dry heaving, nausea
- Weight loss
- Heart palpitations, or increased heart rate
- Irritability, aggression
- Hand tremors
- Muscular pain or stiffness
- Difficulty recalling memories
Ironically enough, Serax withdrawal symptoms can also include the very symptoms you were trying to treat in the first place; anxiety, panic attacks, and insomnia. This phenomenon occurs because the body is craving more of what it thinks is naturally occurring GABA, but cannot naturally produce that amount because it has been falsely created by the benzodiazepines. The brain thinks it has less GABA to help control anxiety or insomnia, which can have a reverse effect and make these feelings even stronger.
What Is Medical Detox?
Withdrawal symptoms from Serax and other benzodiazepines can be deadly. Seizures are a possible withdrawal symptom of benzodiazepines and can occur if supervised detox is not administered. Medical detox is the best way to safely detox from benzodiazepines like Serax and Oxazepam.
Medical detox is generally done in a clinical facility that specializes in drug detox. While not all drugs require a medically supervised detox, drugs like opioids and benzodiazepines can come with life-threatening withdrawal symptoms that can occur even after only taking the drug for a short amount of time.
With many medical detox facilities, the program will typically last from 8-16 days and will be focused on addressing the physical and chemical dependency your body is struggling with. A physician will be responsible for your care around the clock, and typically medical detox facilities allow medicinal treatment to help with withdrawal symptoms if needed.
While medical detox is the best first step to take when it comes to benzodiazepine addiction and dependency, it is necessary to research inpatient rehabilitation options after detox is complete. Through inpatient rehab, you will have access to counselors and therapists that can help address the emotional and mental components of your addiction. Addressing these components can help you to identify the root cause of your addiction, which can help prevent a relapse in the future.