08 Jun Tranxene Addiction
Anything that is relaxing — whether it’s drinking a highball at night, eating a big bowl of popcorn in front of TV, or taking Tranxene tablets– can be addictive. Tranxene, like all benzodiazepines, produces feelings of calmness and sedation, relaxes the muscles and reduces anxiety, and is therefore habit-forming.
Many Americans are taking anti-anxiety drugs in the benzodiazepine family. They are considered safer than barbiturates, which can cause fatal overdoses relatively easily. The number of Americans who have ever been prescribed “benzos” like Tranxene, Xanax and Valium is at least one in four, and millions of adults take them every day.
What is really insidious about Tranxene and other benzos is that when you stop taking them, one of your symptoms will be anxiety. It is logical to assume that you need Tranxene because you have anxiety, and not to assume that stopping Tranxene is actually what has caused your anxiety. It is this phenomenon that keeps people addicted to benzodiazepines. They are also relaxing, and, as we know, anything that relaxes you is hard to give up.
What is Tranxene?
Tranxene was one of the first benzodiazepines to be discovered in the 1960s. It is considered a classic “benzo” very similar to Valium, Librium and Dalmane. It is long-acting and has a half-life in the human body of 20-179 hours. It is considered not as addictive as most benzos for three reasons: it has a long half-life, its effects are not immediate, and it is not as strong a drug as some of the others in its class.
Tranxene was the subject of lawsuit in 2000, and its manufacturer had to pay out $147 million. The United States government accused Mylan Pharmaceuticals of cornering the market on raw materials when a generic version of Tranxene became available, so at that time the price of the drug actually increased from $11.36 a bottle to $377.
The chemical formula for chlorazepate is C16H11ClK2N2O4; and its chemical name is 4-Benzodiazepine-3-carboxylic acid, 7-chloro-2,3dihydro-2-oxo-5-phenyl-, potassium salt compound with potassium hydroxide.
Chlorazepate comes as a fine, light yellow, practically odorless powder that dissolves easily in water but not in other common solvents.
The United States federal government classifies Tranxene as a Schedule IV Controlled Substance, which means it has some medical uses but yet must be regulated and tracked because it is addictive. Tranxene is available legally only by prescription.
How does Tranxene Work?
When Tranxene first came out, no one was exactly sure how it worked. Today, we know that chlorazepate affects certain “receptor” cells in the brain and central nervous system that “receive” a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid or GABA. GABA slows or stops neural activity, and this is why when you take Tranxene, you feel sedated and relaxed. By the way, alcohol modifies GABA receptor cell membranes and increases the tendency of GABA to “dock” which is why, you can develop a cross tolerance to Tranxene and alcohol. If you take Tranxene for a long time or in amounts not medically recommended, you can alter your GABA cells permanently.
What Are the Medical Uses of Tranxene?
The United States Drug and Food Administration has approved Tranxene for use in the treatment of anxiety, alcohol withdrawal, and partial seizure disorders. Tranxene and other benzodiazepines are sometimes used to treat panic disorders, phobias, posttraumatic stress syndrome, and obsessive-compulsive disorders. Using it to relieve anxiety can cause physical dependency.
Tranxene comes as tablets, extended release tablets or as capsules. The typical dose for anxiety is 30mg for adults, and 7.5 to 15mg for the elderly.
Tranxene is only of limited use in alcohol withdrawal because Tranxene is addictive. Some references say that Tranxene should not be used in addiction treatment at all, and that drugs like antidepressants, anti-seizure drugs or buspirone are better. Typically, people in withdrawal from alcoholism will take 30 mg the first 24 hours; 45 to 90mg the second 24 hours; 22.5 to 45mg the third 24 hours; and 15 to 30 mg the fourth 24 hours, and then the drug will be discontinued.
What Drugs Interact with Tranxene?
Tranxene should never be taken with alcohol. Central nervous system depressants or drugs that typically cause drowsiness should not be used with Tranxene because of the danger of overdose. These might be anti-histamines, sleeping pills, prescription painkillers, medicine for allergies and colds, muscle relaxants, anti-seizure medicines, barbiturates, anesthetics, and illegal narcotics. Do not take Tranxene with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), GHB, birth control pills, and certain antibiotics.
Tranxene interacts with 840 drugs that have 4707 different names. The ten major interactions are with Cymbalta, Keppra, Lamictal, Flexeril, Lunesta, Lyrica, Seroquel, Sertraline, Vicodin, and Zoloft.
In addition, you should not take the following drugs with Tranxene unless your doctor says it is okay: Alfentanil, Amobarbital, Anileridine, Aprobarbital, Butabarbital, Butalbital, Carisoprodol, Chloral Hydrate, Chlorzoxazone, cimetidine, Codeine, Dantrolene, disulfiram, Ethchlorvynol, Fentanyl, Fospropofol, Hydrocodone, hydantoins, Hydromorphone, Levorphanol, Meperidine, Mephenesin, Mephobarbital, Meprobamate, Metaxalone, Methocarbamol, methadone, Methohexital, Morphine, Morphine Sulfate Liposome, nefazodone, Omeprazole, Oxycodone, Oxymorphone, Pentobarbital, Phenobarbital, Primidone, Propoxyphene, Remifentanil, rifampin, Secobarbital, Sodium Oxybate, Sufentanil, Tapentadol, Thiopental, Zolpidem, Amprenavir, Ginkgo, Perampanel, St John’s Wort, and Theophylline, or valproic acid.
If you use Tranxene with alcohol or other drugs that suppress the central nervous system, you can develop a cross tolerance, which means both drugs will have fewer effects over time.
What Side Effects does Tranxene Cause?
Common but not serious side effects can be dizziness, dry mouth, headache, lightheadedness, and easier, lack of balance, and confusion.
More serious side effects can be problems with urination, back pain, shakiness, slurred speech, trembling and shaking of the hands and feet, double vision, problems with coordination, blurred vision, diarrhea, changes in mood such as feeling sad or discouraged, skin rashes, vomiting, unusual tiredness, and trouble concentrating. Tranxene can have a paradoxical effect on some people in that it will cause them to be unable to sleep, and to feel more irritable and nervous. Some will experience panic attacks and suicidal thoughts. When people first start to take drugs like Tranxene, they tend to sleep better; however, a few months later, they may sleep worse.
Does Tranxene Show Up on Urine Tests?
Tranxene like any benzodiazepine will be detected on routine urine tests given at work or school. Tranxene is long-acting with a half-life is 40 to 50 hours, which means that it can be detected in urine tests for up to five times that or ten days. Heavy users are more likely to test positive than someone who has just taken it a few times.
Who Should not Take Tranxene?
Tranxene can cause birth defects so it is not prescribed to pregnant women. It can increase mental confusion, dementia, and unsteadiness, so it is not usually prescribed to the elderly. Tranxene can cause medical problems if you have glaucoma, kidney and liver diseases, or mental health conditions such as depression. In general, Tranxene is not prescribed to people with blood or lung diseases, seizures, muscle problems, or mental illness.
Tranxene should not be used by people with histories of alcoholism or drug abuse because Tranxene is addictive.
What is Tranxene Overdose?
Symptoms of a Tranxene overdose might be change in consciousness, drowsiness, fainting, sleepiness, and an overly relaxed state. Typically, people come to emergency rooms because they are overdosing on Tranxene along with alcohol or some other central nervous system depressant. The common treatment for an overdose is to pump the stomach and induce urination. If the person has very low blood pressure, a doctor might administer norepinephrine, bitartrate or metaraminol bitartrate. Flumazenil is sometimes used even though it can cause seizures. People have survived taking 450mg to 650mg of Tranxene.
What are the Dangers of Tranxene?
One of the main dangers of taking Tranxene or any other benzodiazepine is addiction, which can occur within a matter of weeks. You will become physically dependent on the drug and develop withdrawal syndromes whenever you stop taking it. You can also develop drug cravings for Tranxene and drug-seeking behaviors such as “doctor shopping” or buying it illegally.
Tranxene has dangerous interactions with alcohol and hundreds of drugs.
At high doses, Tranxene can cause euphoria, mood swings, and hostility.
If you abuse Tranxene or take it for years, it can accumulate in your fat tissues and cause impaired judgment and memory problems, muscle weakness and confusion. It decreases the efficiency of GABA receptors over time or alters the number you have in your brain.
Because Tranxene makes you less alert and can cause a lack of coordination, drowsiness, clumsiness, slower reflexes, and problems in vision, you are at higher risk for automobile accidents or falling when you take this drug.
On rare occasions, some patients have had life-threatening allergic reactions to Tranxene that include rashes, hives, itching, problems breathing, tightness in the chest, and swollen lips, mouth and throat. Without emergency medical attention, it is possible to die from such an allergic reaction.
What is Tranxene Withdrawal?
Tranxene withdrawal is a series of difficult symptoms that people undergo when they stopped using the drug. Typically they may have been prescribed Tranxene for anxiety, and when they stop using it, one of the two major symptoms will be “rebound” anxiety and insomnia. They often believe that their original anxiety has returned, instead of realizing that anxiety can be a symptom of Tranxene withdrawal.
Symptoms can be sleep disturbances, dry heaves, dehydration, irritability, nervousness, extreme anxiety, tremors, headaches, pain in muscles, seizures, and anxiety. The person may go into a state of panic with an increased rate of heartbeat, increased blood pressure, and hypersensitivity to environmental triggers. Some people develop seizures, delirium, hallucinations, and psychosis. Some people do not feel normal for several months.
In general, Tranxene withdrawal is considered easier than those of the stronger benzos like Xanax. However, a person’s withdrawal symptoms will depend on how long he has been abusing Tranxene, in what amounts, whether he was abusing this drug along with alcohol and other drugs, and other individual factors.
What is Tranxene Abuse?
It is possible to become addicted to Tranxene in as few as two weeks, and about 30% of patients who take benzodiazepines become physically dependent on them. Tolerance builds more slowly for Tranxene because of its long half-life, but yet many people find it impossible to stop taking the drug without professional help.
Tranxene and other benzos are widely abused and sold illegally and without doctors’ prescriptions through Internet pharmacies. One researcher found that about 80% of those who abuse benzos are abusing other drugs. For example, 73% of heroin addicts use benzos like Tranxene at least once a week, and 15% use them every day. Up to 41% of alcoholics use drugs like Tranxene, and one study found that 80% of alcoholics under age 30 years old are addicted to them. Benzos are used to boost the effect of methadone, temper the “high” of cocaine, and taken when heroin is unavailable.
However, many people become physically dependent on Tranxene after their doctors prescribed it for anxiety, and they are often reluctant to stop using Tranxene and other benzos because they are afraid of their original anxiety coming back.
What Treatments are Available for Tranxene Abuse?
Most people addicted to Tranxene need help from a physician who can gradually wean them off this drug and any others they may be abusing. Because withdrawal from Tranxene can involve psychosis and hallucinations, you should not try it by yourself. If you stop too abruptly or without help, your withdrawal can be more severe. All of a sudden you could enter a “down-regulated” state regarding the brain activity of your GABA receptors, and this in turn will cause anxiety, seizures and insomnia. You should consult your physician to help you gradually withdraw from Tranxene or enter a drug rehabilitation treatment program.
Benzos like Tranxene have the effect of “blunting” emotions. The people who become addicted to them can become unable to feel and process any emotion whatsoever because these drugs can cause a form of “emotional anesthesia.” Once you enter this state, you can become more incapable of tolerating your emotions as well as even the ordinary stress of daily life. This is why you may need professional help within a formal drug rehabilitation program.
Another reason you may need professional help is that the vast majority of people who enter treatment for benzos have “comorbidities ” or psychiatric problems that “travel” with but do not necessarily cause addiction. These problems can be childhood trauma, childhood sexual abuse, attention deficit disorder, personality disorders, depression, posttraumatic stress syndrome, etc. They have to be diagnosed separately and treated in separate protocols from your addiction treatment.
A good rehabilitation program will include therapies that can help you get in touch with your emotions in a healthy way. You will probably be assigned to a counselor that you might see on a daily basis who can help you understand how your addiction started, why it continues, and how to live your life without drugs. While you are living at a residential treatment center, you can also learn to relax and have fun with other people who are facing similar problems as they support each other. You can participate in sports and other physical activities that will help you regain your strength and health. Once you leave residential treatment, you usually continue in psychotherapy at home with a local counselor and you usually attend support meetings in your local community.
How Can I Tell If I am Dependent on Tranxene?
If you can answer yes to any of the following questions, it may be time to consult with your family physician or an addiction specialist about your problem with Tranxene.
- Are you using Tranxene along with alcohol, heroin, methadone or other drugs?
- Do you obtain Tranxene from illegal sources?
- Do you have to keep taking more Tranxene, alcohol and other drugs in order to achieve the effect you want?
- Are drugs like Tranxene causing you side effects that are troublesome or make you less effective at work or school?
- Do your family or friends criticize you for using drugs?
- Do you find it impossible to go more than a day or two without using drugs?
- Do you feel guilty or ashamed about how many drugs you use?
- Have you tried to quit using Tranxene or other drugs, unsuccessfully?
- Do you experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop using drugs?
- Do you spend too much time thinking about and obtaining drugs?
- Do you feel unable to handle normal stress without using Tranxene or other drugs?
- Have you been taking Tranxene every day for more than a year?
- Have you ever driven under the influence of Tranxene or otherwise endangered yourself physically because of your drug use?
- Are you spending too much money on drugs?
- Do you feel that you are wasting your life because of your drug use?
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