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Oxazepam: Everything You Need to Know

Oxazepam is part of the benzodiazepine drug class and is prescribed to treat anxiety, including anxiety caused by alcohol withdrawal. It works by slowing activity in the brain, allowing for relaxation. 

What is Oxazepam?

Benzodiazepines like oxazepam are often prescribed for anxiety disorders because of their ability to calm activity in the brain, causing a relaxed mood or sleepiness. Oxazepam is a short-acting benzodiazepine which means the medication is processed and leaves the body more quickly than other drugs. Short-acting medications come with a higher risk of withdrawal symptoms because your body must adapt quickly to functioning without oxazepam once you stop taking it. Because of their sedative effects, benzodiazepines like oxazepam have a high risk of abuse and should only be used under medical supervision. 

Like other benzodiazepines, oxazepam affects the neurotransmitters in the brain, enhancing the effects of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), reducing the amount of excitement in the brain and producing a calming effect. 

Oxazepam is federally classified as a Schedule IV drug under the Controlled Substances Act because it has the potential for abuse and addiction. Oxazepam use should be done only when closely following a healthcare provider’s instructions including careful attention to dosage and duration of treatment. Understanding risks and how to manage them are important when using any medication. 

What is Oxazepam Used For?

Oxazepam is prescribed for anxiety disorders, the short-term relief of symptoms of anxiety and to relieve the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. The calming effect of the medication helps ease tension, nervousness and other symptoms of anxiety. Symptoms of acute alcohol withdrawal that are treated with oxazepam include tremors, agitation and anxiety. 

What is the Chemical Composition of Librium?

The chemical name of oxazepam is 7-chloro-3-hydroxy-5-phenyl-1,3-dihydro-1,4-benzodiazepin-2-one. The empirical formula is C15H11ClN2O2


What is a Common Oxazepam Dosage?

The common dosage of oxazepam for mild to moderate anxiety is 10mg to 15mg every six to eight hours. For severe anxiety, the dosage is increased to 15mg to 30mg every six to eight hours. For alcohol withdrawal, 15mg given three times a day is the typical dose. Dosage may be adjusted based on the patient’s response to the medication and the severity of symptoms. Oxazepam is intended only for short-term use. 

What Are the Side Effects of Oxazepam?

Side effects of oxazepam will vary and can be temporary but you should seek medical attention if your reaction is severe or does not go away. 

Common Side Effects 

  • Drowsiness 
  • Dizziness 
  • Weakness 
  • Dry Mouth 
  • Upset stomach 
  • Changes in appetite 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Restlessness 
  • Constipation 
  • Difficulty urinating 
  • Blurred vision 
  • Frequent urination 

Less Common Side Effects 

  • Severe skin rash 
  • Fever 
  • Shuffling walk 
  • Inability to sit still 
  • Persistent, fine tremors 
  • Difficulty breathing 
  • Difficulty swallowing 
  • Yellowing of skin or eyes 
  • Irregular heartbeat 

Notify a medical professional immediately if you are experiencing unusual reactions to oxazepam. 

What Does Oxazepam Abuse Look Like?

  • Continuing to use oxazepam despite negative physical or psychological problems. 
  • Using oxazepam in larger amounts or over a longer period than intended. 
  • Failing to fulfill obligations at work, school, or home due to drug use. 
  • Seeking multiple prescriptions or doctor shopping 
  • Using oxazepam without a prescription or using it in ways not prescribed. 
  • Spending a significant amount of time obtaining, using, and recovering from the effects of oxazepam. 

What Are Common Signs of Oxazepam Addiction?

Oxazepam addiction involves both physical and psychological symptoms and recognizing the signs can help in seeking treatment. Some common signs that may indicate oxazepam addiction include:  

  • Cravings 
  • Mood swings 
  • Increased tolerance to the drug 
  • Withdrawal symptoms when not using the drug (anxiety, restlessness, muscle tension, sleep disturbances, irritability) 
  • Neglecting responsibilities 
  • Social withdrawal 
  • Seeking multiple prescriptions from different doctors 
  • Drowsiness, lethargy 
  • Dizziness, light-headedness 
  • Slurred speech 
  • Motor coordination impairment 

If you or someone you know is showing signs of oxazepam abuse, it is important to seek advice from a trained counselor. Addiction to benzodiazepines can be dangerous and even life-threatening, but treatment is always available. 

What is Oxazepam Addiction?

Like most benzodiazepines, prolonged use of oxazepam can lead to dependence where a person becomes so used to the medication, they feel they cannot function normally without it and will continue to use it despite negative effects. 

Over time, oxazepam users may need larger doses to achieve the same calming effects, leading to more frequent use. The body becomes accustomed to the presence of the medication, causing a physical and psychological dependence. If the medication is stopped, a person can experience withdrawal symptoms such as insomnia, anxiety, irritability, sweating, tremors and, in some cases, seizures. 

A compulsive need for the calming effects of oxazepam – spending time and effort thinking about, acquiring and using the medication – can lead to misuse. Addressing addiction should be done with the help and guidance of a licensed treatment program that is designed for recovery and managing withdrawal safely. 

What Does Oxazepam Addiction Treatment Look Like?

Oxazepam addiction treatment normally includes a structured process of several stages that are targeted to the needs of the patient. Once a thorough assessment is done to determine the severity of the addiction, a personalized treatment plan can be created. Here is an overview of what oxazepam addiction treatment typically involves: 

Oxazepam Detox 

The first physical step in your path to recovery is detoxification, which includes withdrawal from oxazepam under medical supervision. Withdrawal from benzodiazepines can be dangerous so it is important this is done in a controlled environment where medical professionals can monitor the patient’s health and symptoms. Medications may be used to help manage withdrawal symptoms and reduce the risk of seizures. 

Inpatient and Outpatient Treatment 

After detox, continuing recovery progress can be done with inpatient or outpatient care. Both methods can help in overcoming addiction and each option should be carefully considered.  

  • Inpatient care: Residential or inpatient treatment typically involves staying in a treatment facility for 28 days to several months. This is a more intense type of treatment for those with severe addiction, those who need medical supervision, someone with co-occurring conditions or for those who have been unsuccessful with past treatment. It offers  
  • Outpatient care: Outpatient treatment allows a person to continue to live at home while attending scheduled sessions several times a week. This is generally suited to those transitioning from in-patient treatment, someone with a less severe addiction, those with a strong support system at home and those who require flexibility and being able to continue with work and other commitments. 

If you or a loved one is struggling with oxazepam use, help is available. Please reach out to one of our compassionate admissions team members to learn about treatment options.  


This website offers educational information and self-help tools for your personal use. However, everyone’s health needs are unique. To make the best and safest decisions for yourself, please consult with a doctor or licensed professional. 

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