Reviewed on 7/27/2023

What Is Oxazepam and How Does It Work?

Oxazepam is a prescription medication used to treat anxiety disorders and symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.

  • Oxazepam is available under the following different brand names: Serax

What Are Dosages of Oxazepam?

Adult and pediatric dosage

Capsule: Schedule IV

  • 10mg
  • 15mg
  • 30mg


Adult dosage

  • Mild/moderate: 10-15 mg orally every 6-8 hours as needed
  • Severe, agitation or assoc with depression: 15-30 mg orally every 6-8 hours as needed

Pediatric dosage

  • Children below 6 years: Not recommended
  • Children between 6 to 12 years: Not established; use with caution
  • Children above 12 years: 
  • Mild/moderate: 10-15 mg orally every 6-8 hours as needed
  • Severe, agitation or assoc with depression: 15-30 mg orally every 6-8 hours as needed

Geriatric dosage

  • 10 mg every 8-12 hours; may gradually increase to a total dose of 30-45 mg/day as needed

Alcohol Withdrawal

Adult dosage

  • 15-30 mg orally every 6-8 hours as needed

Geriatric dosage

  • 10-30 mg orally every 8-12 hours as needed

Dosage Considerations – Should be Given as Follows: 

  • See “Dosages”

What Are Side Effects Associated with Using Oxazepam?

Common side effects of Oxazepam include:

  • drowsiness,
  • dizziness, 
  • spinning sensation (vertigo), and
  • headache.

Serious side effects of Oxazepam include:

  • severe drowsiness,
  • a light-headed feeling,
  • unusual changes in mood or behavior,
  • confusion, 
  • anger, 
  • paranoia, 
  • problems with memory or concentration,
  • tremors, 
  • slurred speech, 
  • problems with balance or muscle movement,
  • seizure,
  • trouble breathing,
  • fever,
  • chills, 
  • sore throat
  • upper stomach pain, 
  • dark urine, and
  • jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes).

Rare side effects of Oxazepam include:

  • none 
This is not a complete list of side effects and other serious side effects or health problems that may occur as a result of the use of this drug. Call your doctor for medical advice about serious side effects or adverse reactions. You may report side effects or health problems to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What Other Drugs Interact with Oxazepam?

If your medical doctor is using this medicine to treat your pain, your doctor or pharmacist may already be aware of any possible drug interactions and may be monitoring you for them. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicine before checking with your doctor, health care provider, or pharmacist first.

This information does not contain all possible interactions or adverse effects. Visit the RxList Drug Interaction Checker for any drug interactions. Therefore, before using this product, tell your doctor or pharmacist about all the products you use. Keep a list of all your medications with you and share this information with your doctor and pharmacist. Check with your health care professional or doctor for additional medical advice, or if you have health questions or concerns.

What Are Warnings and Precautions for Oxazepam?


  • Documented hypersensitivity

Effects of drug abuse

  • Addiction
  • Overdose
  • Death

Short-Term Effects

  • See “What Are Side Effects Associated with Using Oxazepam?”

Long-Term Effects

  • See “What Are Side Effects Associated with Using Oxazepam?”


  • Use caution in respiratory diseases (COPD), sleep apnea, depression, suicide ideation, history of drug abuse
  • Continued use of benzodiazepines may lead to clinically significant physical dependence; longer treatment duration and higher daily dose increase the risk of dependence and withdrawal symptoms; rapid dose reduction or abrupt discontinuation after continued use may result in withdrawal reactions that can be life-threatening; to reduce the risk of withdrawal reactions gradual taper recommended when discontinuing drug or reducing the dosage
  • Use caution in patients with hepatic impairment, depression, respiratory disease, and debilitated and elderly patients at risk of falls and traumatic injuries
  • Not for use as analgesic, antipsychotic, or antidepressant
  • Patients should be warned that the effects of alcohol or other depressant drugs may be additive to those of oxazepam, which may require adjusting dosage or elimination of such patients
  • Anterograde amnesia reported with benzodiazepines
  • Sleep-related hazardous activities, including sleep-driving, making phone calls, cooking, and eating food reported with benzodiazepines
  • Hypotension reported; use caution in patients with cardiovascular or cerebrovascular disease or patients who do not tolerate transient decreases in blood pressure
  • Paradoxical reactions, including aggressive and hyperactive behavior, were reported with benzodiazepines, especially in pediatric/adolescent or psychiatric patients
  • Physical and psychological dependence
    • Withdrawal symptoms, similar to those noted with barbiturates and alcohol, including tremors, convulsions, vomiting, abdominal and muscle cramps, and sweating reported following abrupt discontinuation of oxazepam
    • The withdrawal was reported to be more severe in patients who received excessive doses over an extended period; milder withdrawal symptoms, including dysphoria and insomnia, were reported following abrupt discontinuation of benzodiazepines taken continuously at therapeutic levels for several months
    • Avoid abrupt discontinuation after extended therapy; dosage tapering should be scheduled under careful surveillance when receiving oxazepam or other psychotropic agents because of the predisposition of such patients to habituation and dependence

Pregnancy and Lactation

  • Use in LIFE-THREATENING emergencies when no safer drug is available. Positive evidence of human fetal risk.
  • Lactation
    • Avoid during breastfeeding
    • Minor tranquilizers should be avoided in 1st trimester of pregnancy due to the increased risk of congenital malformations
    • Maternal use shortly before delivery is associated with floppy infant syndrome (good and consistent evidence)
    • Prenatal benzodiazepine exposure slightly increased oral cleft risk (limited or inconsistent evidence) 
Medscape. Oxazepam.


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