Concomitant use of benzodiazepines and opioids may result in profound sedation, respiratory depression, coma, and death. Reserve concomitant prescribing for patients with inadequate alternative treatment options. Limit dosages and durations to the minimum required and follow patients for signs and symptoms of respiratory depression and sedation
Medically reviewed on June 7, 2018
Commonly used brand name(s)
In the U.S.
Available Dosage Forms:
Therapeutic Class: Antianxiety
Pharmacologic Class: Benzodiazepine, Short or Intermediate Acting
Uses For This Medicine
Oxazepam is used to relieve symptoms of anxiety, including anxiety caused by depression, and the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. Oxazepam may also be used to treat tension, agitation, and irritability in older patients.
Oxazepam is a benzodiazepine. Benzodiazepines belong to the group of medicines called central nervous system (CNS) depressants, which are medicines that slow down the nervous system.
Oxazepam is available only with your doctor's prescription.
Before Using This Medicine
In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For oxazepam, the following should be considered:
Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to oxazepam or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.
Appropriate studies have not been performed on the relationship of age to the effects of oxazepam in children younger than 6 years of age. Safety and efficacy have not been established.
Appropriate studies performed to date have not demonstrated geriatric-specific problems that would limit the usefulness of oxazepam in the elderly. However, elderly patients are more likely to have unwanted effects (eg, severe drowsiness, dizziness, lightheadedness, fainting, unusual behavior) and age-related kidney or liver problems, which may require caution and an adjustment in the dose for patients receiving oxazepam.
There are no adequate studies in women for determining infant risk when using this medication during breastfeeding. Weigh the potential benefits against the potential risks before taking this medication while breastfeeding.
Interactions with Medicines
Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. When you are taking oxazepam, it is especially important that your healthcare professional know if you are taking any of the medicines listed below. The following interactions have been selected on the basis of their potential significance and are not necessarily all-inclusive.
Using oxazepam with any of the following medicines is not recommended. Your doctor may decide not to treat you with this medication or change some of the other medicines you take.
Using oxazepam with any of the following medicines is usually not recommended, but may be required in some cases. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.
- Chloral Hydrate
- Morphine Sulfate Liposome
- Sodium Oxybate
Using oxazepam with any of the following medicines may cause an increased risk of certain side effects, but using both drugs may be the best treatment for you. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.
- St John's Wort
Interactions with Food/Tobacco/Alcohol
Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. The following interactions have been selected on the basis of their potential significance and are not necessarily all-inclusive.
Using oxazepam with any of the following may cause an increased risk of certain side effects but may be unavoidable in some cases. If used together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use oxazepam, or give you special instructions about the use of food, alcohol, or tobacco.
Other Medical Problems
The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of oxazepam. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:
- Alcohol abuse, or history of or
- Depression, or history of or
- Drug abuse or dependence, or history of or
- Hypotension (low blood pressure) or
- Lung or breathing problems or
- Mental health problems, or history of—Use with caution. May make these conditions worse.
- Kidney disease or
- Liver disease—Use with caution. The effects may be increased because of slower removal of the medicine from the body.
- Mental illness (eg, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia)—Should not be used in patients with this condition.
Proper Use of This Medicine
Take oxazepam only as directed by your doctor. Do not take more of it, do not take it more often, and do not take it for a longer time than your doctor ordered.
Oxazepam should come with a Medication Guide. Read and follow the instructions carefully. Ask your doctor if you have any questions.
The dose of oxazepam will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of oxazepam. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.
The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.
- For oral dosage form (capsules):
- For anxiety:
- Adults—10 to 30 milligrams (mg) 3 or 4 times a day.
- Older adults—At first, 10 mg 3 times a day. Your doctor may increase your dose if needed.
- Children 6 years of age and older—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
- Children younger than 6 years of age—Use is not recommended.
- For alcohol withdrawal:
- Adults—15 to 30 milligrams (mg) 3 or 4 times a day.
- Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
- For anxiety:
If you miss a dose of oxazepam, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not double doses.
Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light. Keep from freezing.
Keep out of the reach of children.
Do not keep outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.
Ask your healthcare professional how you should dispose of any medicine you do not use.
Precautions While Using This Medicine
It is very important that your doctor check your progress at regular visits to make sure oxazepam is working properly. Blood tests may be needed to check for unwanted effects.
Oxazepam is for short-term use only, which is generally considered less than 4 months. If your condition does not improve or if it becomes worse, check with your doctor.
Using oxazepam while you are pregnant can harm your unborn baby. Use an effective form of birth control to keep from getting pregnant. If you think you have become pregnant while using the medicine, tell your doctor right away.
Oxazepam may cause some people, especially older persons, to become drowsy, dizzy, lightheaded, clumsy, unsteady, or less alert than they are normally. Make sure you know how you react to oxazepam before you drive, use machines, or do anything else that could be dangerous if you are not alert or able to think or see well.
Oxazepam will add to the effects of alcohol and other central nervous system (CNS) depressants. CNS depressants are medicines that slow down the nervous system, which may cause drowsiness or make you less alert. Some examples of CNS depressants are antihistamines or medicine for hay fever, allergies, or colds, sedatives, tranquilizers, or sleeping medicine, prescription pain medicine or narcotics, barbiturates or medicine for seizures, muscle relaxants, or anesthetics (numbing medicines), including some dental anesthetics. This effect may last for a few days after you stop taking oxazepam. Check with your doctor before taking any of the above while you are using oxazepam.
Do not stop taking oxazepam without checking with your doctor first. Your doctor may want you to gradually reduce the amount you are using before stopping it completely. This may help prevent a worsening of your condition and reduce the possibility of withdrawal symptoms, such as convulsions (seizures), stomach or muscle cramps, tremors, vomiting, or sweating.
This Medicine Side Effects
Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.
Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur:
- Abdominal or stomach pain
- black, tarry stools
- chest pain
- clay-colored stools
- dark urine
- fever with or without chills
- itching or rash
- light-colored stools
- loss of appetite
- nausea and vomiting
- painful or difficult urination
- shakiness and unsteady walk
- shakiness in the legs, arms, hands, or feet
- slurred speech
- sore throat
- sores, ulcers, or white spots on the lips or in the mouth
- swollen glands
- trouble breathing
- unpleasant breath odor
- unsteadiness, trembling, or other problems with muscle control or coordination
- unusual bleeding or bruising
- unusual tiredness or weakness
- vomiting of blood
- yellow eyes or skin
Incidence not known
- Being forgetful
- confusion about identity, place, and time
- cough or hoarseness
- decreased awareness or responsiveness
- false or unusual sense of well-being
- general feeling of tiredness or weakness
- loss of bladder control
- loss of memory
- lower back or side pain
- pale skin
- problems with memory
- severe sleepiness
- trouble sleeping
- unusual excitement, nervousness, restlessness, or irritability
Get emergency help immediately if any of the following symptoms of overdose occur:
Symptoms of overdose
- Blurred vision
- change in consciousness
- dizziness, faintness, or lightheadedness when getting up suddenly from a lying or sitting position
- loss of consciousness
- loss of strength or energy
- muscle pain or weakness
- unusual drowsiness, dullness, tiredness, weakness, or feeling of sluggishness
- unusual weak feeling
Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:
- Decreased interest in sexual intercourse
- feeling of constant movement of self or surroundings
- inability to have or keep an erection
- increased in sexual ability, desire, drive, or performance
- increased interest in sexual intercourse
- loss in sexual ability, desire, drive, or performance
- rash with flat lesions or small raised lesions on the skin
- sensation of spinning
Incidence not known
- Double vision
- menstrual changes
- seeing double
Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
See also: Side effects (in more detail)
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.
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More about oxazepam
- Oxazepam Side Effects
- During Pregnancy or Breastfeeding
- Dosage Information
- Drug Images
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- Drug class: benzodiazepines
Other brands: Serax