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Serax is one of the branded drugs that has the generic drug oxazepam as its active ingredient. Serax, like its generic parent, is a benzodiazepine, or benzo. The benzodiazepine class of drugs is widely used for its sedative effects. Serax, like some other benzodiazepines, is medically indicated for the treatment of anxiety, agitation, irritability, tension, and withdrawal from an alcohol use disorder. It appears that Serax may be especially beneficial for elderly patients who are experiencing irritability.
Oxazepam has been on the market since 1965. Although it, and its branded lineage of drugs, has a therapeutic use, it is a drug of abuse with addiction potential. However, patients who are take Serax under the care of a doctor and follow the orders for use will face little risk of developing a psychological addiction to this benzo. However, prescribed users who take too much of this drug, or who abuse it recreationally, face a significant risk of developing an addiction.
The reality of drug abuse in America has led to increased interest and funding in the area of neurobiology. Studies of drugs in the brain have led to the brain disease model of addiction, a current theory that has helped to lift the old and entirely misguided stigma of drug abuse. Although this model is considered to be of debatable merit, the National Institute on Drug Abuse strongly supports it. Once it is understood that the brain plays a primary role in addiction, it is easier to understand how Serax (as well as other drugs) works at the neurobiological level.
At the outset, it is helpful to understand that the brain is composed, in part, of receptors for neurotransmitters. Certain drugs can dock into certain receptors (those in which they fit in a lock-and-key type relationship) and activate the receptor sites. This is how Serax works in the brain: Serax, (in its metabolized chemical form) has the ability to dock into GABA receptors and stimulate the release of GABA neurotransmitters in the brain. In general, neurotransmitters are stored in nerve cells throughout the brain and the body’s nervous system. Their main job is to transmit messages between cells, which is why they’re called chemical messengers. GABA has a specific effect — it sends out calming messages that reduce anxiety and can help to relax muscles. From a biological standpoint, this is a critical function. A naturally occurring release of GABA can, for example, help a person prepare for sleep. Of course, Serax is not naturally occurring and can, in fact, activate the GABA receptors and lead to a greater GABA release than nature intended for the body.
Serax, as a therapeutic medication, can be thought of as a relatively safe way for doctors to help a patient’s mind and body to relax. The goal, when Serax is taken for a diagnosed condition, is to cause just enough GABA release to be therapeutic without causing euphoria (which happens when this drug is abused). However, when a person abuses Serax by taking too much of it, the GABA receptor excitement is to such a degree that a high is experienced. Ongoing abuse is essentially a return, again and again, to this high. Over time, more Serax will be needed to achieve this high because of the natural biological process known as tolerance.
But getting high on Serax is not an isolated neurobiological event. Rather, repeated activation of the GABA receptor site, due to Serax abuse, will lead to an imbalance in GABA functioning as well as affect other areas of the brain. The brain is delicately tuned to be efficient (i.e., a person with healthy GABA functioning has only as much GABA as needed in the brain), but drug abuse makes this system get out of whack.
In fact, as Psychology Today explains, benzodiazepine can lead to brain damage (certain features of which may or may not be reversible). Looking at different research findings, it appears that long-term benzodiazepine abuse can lead to brain deterioration (i.e., brain atrophy), including a side effect known as cerebral ventricular enlargement. A French study of 4,425 long-term users of benzodiazepines (2007) concluded that 75 were either extremely ill or markedly ill. The symptomology among the group of ill individuals included generalized anxiety disorder and episodes of major depression.
Active abuse of benzodiazepines, such as Serax, is one matter, while withdrawal is another. There is a strong recommendation within the medical and addiction treatment community that anyone who wants to withdraw from Serax do so under the care of a doctor during medical detox. The safest way to withdraw from Serax is usually to be tapered off this benzodiazepine. Doing so can help a person to avoid the risk of serious withdrawal side effects, such as seizures. It is critical at this juncture to understand that the possibility of severe withdrawal relates directly to how Serax impacted the brain. According to some researchers, the potential severity of the withdrawal may itself emerge from damage to the brain.
An understanding of how Serax works in the brain can provide the motivation to seek recovery as well as maintain abstinence. Of course, the idea of taking Serax and developing any problems with the brain is especially unsettling. It is important to understand, however, that in many instances the damage can be reversed, especially if the person receives the appropriate level of care.
Irrespective of how long a person has been abusing Serax, a qualified, accredited rehab center can help. Recovery services address the addiction, and they can also prevent the onset of further physical and psychological consequences, including the impact of Serax on the brain.