Ox-Pam , Serax, Zapex 
Classifications: central nervous system agent; anxiolytic; sedative-hypnotic; benzodiazepine
Prototype: Lorazepam
Pregnancy Category: C
Controlled Substance: Schedule IV


10 mg, 15 mg, 30 mg capsules; 15 mg tablets


Benzodiazepine derivative related to lorazepam. Effects are mediated by the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA. Acts on the thalamic, hypothalamic, and limbic levels of CNS.

Therapeutic Effects

Has anxiolytic, sedative, hypnotic, and skeletal muscle relaxant effects.


Management of anxiety and tension associated with a wide range of emotional disturbances. Also to control acute withdrawal symptoms in chronic alcoholism.


Hypersensitivity to oxazepam and other benzodiazepines; psychoses, pregnancy (category C), lactation, children <12 y; acute-angle glaucoma, acute alcohol intoxication.

Cautious Use

Older adult and debilitated patients; impaired kidney and liver function; addiction-prone patients; COPD; mental depression.

Route & Dosage

Adult: PO 10–30 mg t.i.d. or q.i.d.

Acute Alcohol Withdrawal
Adult: PO 15–30 mg t.i.d. or q.i.d.



Adverse Effects (1%)

CNS: Drowsiness, dizziness, mental confusion, vertigo, ataxia, headache, lethargy, syncope, tremor, slurred speech, paradoxic reaction (euphoria, excitement). GI: Nausea, xerostomia, jaundice. Skin: Skin rash, edema. CV: Hypotension, edema. Hematologic: Leukopenia. Urogenital: Altered libido.


Drug: Alcohol, cns depressants, anticonvulsants potentiate CNS depression; cimetidine increases oxazepam plasma levels, increasing its toxicity; may decrease antiparkinsonism effects of levodopa; may increase phenytoin levels; smoking decreases sedative and antianxiety effects. Herbal: Kava-kava, valerian may potentiate sedation.


Absorption: Readily absorbed from GI tract. Peak: 2–3 h. Distribution: Crosses placenta; distributed into breast milk. Metabolism: Metabolized in liver. Elimination: Primarily excreted in urine, some in feces. Half-Life: 2–8 h.

Nursing Implications

Assessment & Drug Effects

Patient & Family Education

Common adverse effects in italic, life-threatening effects underlined; generic names in bold; classifications in SMALL CAPS; Canadian drug name; Prototype drug