Serax Addiction: Side Effects, Detox, Withdrawal, and Treatment

serax and oraxepam pills

What Is Serax (Oxazepam)?

Serax (oxazepam) is a prescription benzodiazepine that is used to treat anxiety disorders, insomnia, or alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Serax may also be used off-label to treat other conditions such as social phobia, PTSD, or premenstrual syndrome.

Serax provides relief for various medical and psychological issues by increasing the effects of the calming neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (or GABA) in the central nervous system. It slows activity in the brain and central nervous system, producing a relaxing effect.

Serax is directed to be taken orally, three to four times daily. It’s typically available in 10, 15, and 30 mg capsules and tablets. Although Serax is considered to be safer than other benzodiazepines due to the way it is metabolized and because it is less likely to accumulate in the user’s body, it still has the potential to be addictive and may be abused due to the sedating effects it produces.1

Serax is only intended for short-term medical use (typically four to six weeks) and its effects are felt very slowly. Although these factors decrease the likelihood that someone will abuse it, misusing it in any way can increase the risk of developing Serax addiction.

Is Serax Addictive?

Yes, like other benzodiazepines, Serax can be addictive if it is misused. In the U.S., oxazepam is a Schedule IV drug, which means it has legitimate medical uses but is also potentially habit-forming. Due to the pleasurable feelings Serax produces, the longer someone uses it, the more likely they are to become addicted.

Most people who abuse benzodiazepines like Serax misuse them with other drugs. This is called polydrug abuse. For example, often people who abuse oxazepam will use it as they come down from a stimulant high. In many cases, they will take Serax with other benzo or depressant like alcohol to intensify the effects.

Repeated, long-term misuse of benzos like Serax can alter the brain’s structure and function and make it extremely difficult to get sober without medical help and long-term addiction treatment.

What are Some Slang Terms for Serax?

According to the DEA, some common street names or slang terms for benzos like Serax include:2

  • Benzos
  • Downers
  • Nerve pills
  • Tranks
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How Common Is Serax Addiction and Abuse?

Data from the most recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) found that about 5.4 million Americans ages 12 or older were past misusers of prescription benzodiazepines like oxazepam in 2018. That’s about two percent of the U.S. population.3

Serax abuse produces intense sedating effects, which can lead to accidents or injuries. Mixing oxazepam with alcohol or other depressants only increases the user’s risk of injury, especially if they are driving or engaging in another activity that requires alertness. Serax is also often abused in conjunction with opioids and other depressants, which can increase the risk of overdose and death.

Aside from harmful side effects, tolerance, and addiction, a deadly overdose is another serious risk of misusing Serax.

What Are the Side Effects of Serax Abuse?

Serax abuse produces many unwanted side effects that can lead to serious health problems. Common side effects of Serax abuse include:

  • Severe dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Concentration and memory problems
  • Slurred speech
  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Changes in appetite
  • Shakiness
  • Skin rash
  • Slow reaction time
  • Vertigo
  • Muscle weakness
  • Inability to remember new information
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Slow breathing

Over time, long-term benzodiazepine abuse can cause serious health problems, like:4

  • Memory impairment
  • Blood pressure problems
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches
  • Weakness
  • Anorexia

Symptoms of a Serax overdose include:

  • Nausea
  • Slowed breathing
  • Loss of coordination
  • Confusion
  • Decreased alertness
  • Double vision
  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Coma

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Serax Addiction and Abuse?

When someone is addicted to Serax, he or she may behave differently. Common signs of Serax addiction include:

  • Frequently trying to obtain a prescription for it
  • Lying about taking Serax
  • Worrying about getting the next dose of Serax
  • Being unable to control Serax use
  • Having strong cravings for Serax
  • Experiencing issues a work, school, or home because of Serax abuse
  • Experiencing uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms
  • Developing a tolerance
  • Continuing to abuse Serax, despite the harmful physical, emotional, and social consequences

What Are the Withdrawal Symptoms of Serax?

Once a person is addicted to Serax, cutting back or suddenly quitting can result in severe side effects. These uncomfortable symptoms are called withdrawal. Common Serax withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle aches and pain
  • Agitation
  • Irritability
  • Poor concentration
  • Memory problems
  • Restlessness

Benzodiazepine withdrawal can be very uncomfortable and difficult to get through without medical assistance. In some instances, it may also be life-threatening. Although the severity and duration of oxazepam withdrawal symptoms will vary from person to person, it’s safest to get professional assistance if you want to get sober.

Can You Just Stop Taking Serax?

Medical providers never recommend quitting benzos cold turkey. If you abruptly stop taking Serax after misusing it for a time, you are much more likely to experience severe and longer-lasting withdrawal symptoms than you would if you taper off of it under the direction and supervision of a doctor.

Instead of trying to quit Serax cold turkey, you are much more likely to be successful with a medical detox program. Medical detox for Serax addiction provides medication-assisted treatment and clinical care to treat the physical and psychological symptoms of withdrawal. A Serax detox program will also help prevent discomfort during withdrawal and drastically reduces the risk of relapse and overdose.

Medical detox for oxazepam addiction begins with a thorough clinical and medical assessment to determine your treatment needs. A team of nurses, doctors, and clinicians uses that information to design an individualized Serax detox treatment plan to help you reach a state of physical stability and mental clarity so you can move on to the next stage of addiction treatment, which is often residential rehab or an intensive outpatient program (IOP).

How Long Does it Take for Serax to Get Out Of Your System?

Serax withdrawal symptoms typically begin to appear about one to two days after the last dose and can continue for two to four weeks after you initially stop using it.

Serax Withdrawal Timeline
24-48 hours after the last doseDuring the first day or two of Serax detox, early symptoms of Serax withdrawal will appear. They commonly include insomnia, sweating, anxiety, and shakiness.
5 to 7 days after the last dosePhysical withdrawal symptoms typically decrease after about a week in Serax detox, but psychological symptoms may get stronger. Severe cravings for Serax are common and individuals often need support from medical professionals or family members to prevent relapse.
8 to 14 days after the last doseWithdrawal symptoms may suddenly intensify one to two weeks after Serax detox and can sometimes include muscle cramps and spasms. Cravings may continue to linger. Toward the end of the two-week mark, withdrawal symptoms usually decrease in intensity and fade away.
15+ days after the last doseMost or all withdrawal symptoms will have subsided 15 days after Serax detox. Some people experience post-acute withdrawal syndrome, which can include symptoms like anxiety, depression, irritability, and cravings. PAWS can be treated and managed with professional help.
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How Can I Get Off Serax?

The cravings and withdrawal symptoms can make staying sober feel like an impossible feat and getting off Serax without professional help is difficult. However, a medical detox program can help you cope with the physical and psychological side effects of withdrawal while preparing you to continue treatment in rehab. Ultimately, getting professional help in detox is the safest and most effective way to get off Serax.

After completing detox, a reputable Serax rehab program that uses evidence-based addiction treatment methods can help you make behavioral changes and address the root causes of your addiction to sustain your recovery long-term. These types of treatment methods include:

  • Individual therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Contingency management
  • 12-Step facilitation therapy
  • Family behavior therapy
  • Rational emotive behavioral therapy
  • Specialized therapies like art therapy, music therapy, or pet therapy

Inpatient Drug Rehab vs. Outpatient Drug Rehab for Serax Addiction

Inpatient Drug Rehab vs. Outpatient Drug Rehab for Serax Addiction

 During residential rehab for Serax addiction, clients:

  • Live on-site at the rehab center over the course of treatment
  • Adhere to staff guidelines and the rules and regulations of the facility
  • Attend individual and group therapy sessions
  • Participate in social activities on-site or off-site
  • May have visitors but generally, have limited access to the outside world

 During outpatient rehab for Serax addiction, clients:

  • Live at home or a sober living home
  • Attend addiction treatment group sessions in-person or via online IOP several times a week
  • Continue attending school, work, or maintaining daily responsibilities at home
  • Complete assignments with the treatment group and independently at home

Depending on the type of addiction treatment program a person chooses, the cost can vary greatly. The difference in cost is largely due to several factors, including the types of services offered at the Serax rehab center, its location, and amenities.

Most addiction treatment centers and services are covered by health insurance providers, but the extent of your coverage for a Serax treatment program will vary by policy. Alternative payment options for Serax rehab include:

If you’re having trouble paying for a Serax treatment program, scholarships or grants may also be available through individual rehab facilities, corporations that manage rehab centers, and various nonprofit organizations.

What Are Continued Care Options for Serax Addiction?

After completing detox and rehab for Serax addiction, you may decide to continue treatment with additional recovery support programs, such as a sober living program or aftercare.

Sober Living Programs

Sober living homes are safe and sober gender-specific shared living spaces. They are designed to help men and women in recovery sustain long-term sobriety as they adjust to daily sober life outside of a Serax rehab program.

Many sober living homes also provide recovery support services including:

  • Regular drug and alcohol testing
  • Certified peer recovery support programs
  • Phased recovery programming
  • Employment assistance
  • Volunteer placement
  • Educational planning
  • Access to IOP and clinical care services via a third-party company or provider

Although health insurance policies don’t cover sober living programs, residents may have access to private scholarships or financial assistance that can reduce the overall cost.

Aftercare Programs

Aftercare programs provide much-needed sobriety support during transitional stages of life, such as after moving to a new city, finalizing a divorce, or losing a loved one. Life circumstances such as these can often cause high amounts of stress, which can increase a person’s risk of relapsing.

Aftercare supports rehab alumni by providing consistent support and accountability with weekly group meetings. Group members are encouraged to share their life struggles, participate in discussions, and establish and strengthen existing strategies to manage cravings, stress, and high-risk situations to stay sober.

If you or a loved one is struggling with Serax addiction, help is available now. Please call (512) 520-0255 to speak with a representative at Nova Recovery Center and learn more about your Serax treatment program options.


  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK544349/
  2. https://www.dea.gov/factsheets/benzodiazepines
  3. https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/cbhsq-reports/NSDUHNationalFindingsReport2018/NSDUHNationalFindingsReport2018.pdf
  4. https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/benzodiazepine-abuse

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