Tranxene-SD is a type of benzodiazepine tranquilizer used to treat anxiety and seizures. In some instances, it’s used for alcohol withdrawal. It has the ability to reduce symptoms of withdrawal, but its safety concerns make alcohol rehab clinic specialists question whether it’s the best option.
What is Tranxene-SD?
Tranxene (clorazepate) is a sustained-release tablet that slows the movement of chemicals in the brain. For this reason, it reduces the anxiety related to alcohol withdrawal. Rehab clinics for alcohol abuse once used it much more commonly but are not prescribing it as freely. It acts on the gamma amino butyric acid (GABA) receptors in the brain that control sleepiness and anxiety. Clorazepate has the ability to increase activity with the GABA receptors, ultimately relaxing muscles and decreasing nervousness and anxiety. It helps those going through withdrawal to combat insomnia as well. Additionally, it reduces a person’s risk of having a seizure. This is beneficial to alcoholics because withdrawal can lead to seizures, some which result in death.
How is it used?
The drug is an oral tablet that can be taken with or without food. For alcoholism, it’s only given for a short duration due to its risk of dependency, especially in those who already have an addiction. For this reason, it’s not commonly used today. In other countries, the use of it has been banned altogether. When taken for alcoholism, it’s given in a larger amount in two doses at first. Then, the amount is gradually reduced. The tapering of the drug is necessary to prevent withdrawal from the alcoholism and dependency on Tranxene.
How safe is it?
The drug has a great risk of dependency with those who already have a drug or alcohol problem. Because it’s a benzodiazepine, the withdrawal from it is intense, with death being a possibility. Alcohol and other drugs that cause drowsiness increase the sleepiness caused by Tranxene even further. Therefore, sleep aids, other benzodiazepines and sedatives can’t be taken with it. Seizure medications and antidepressants enhance the effects of it. It’s not safe to take during pregnancy, especially during the first trimester, because it can cause deformities. Women who are breastfeeding can’t take it because it passes through milk.
Tranxene has a great deal of side effects. For example, it can impair cognition and cause confusion. Drowsiness, amnesia, dizziness and ataxia are possible. In some patients, it has the complete opposite effect than what it’s supposed to and leads to nervousness. Headache, dry mouth, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting are possible.
Many people shouldn’t use Tranxene or should use with caution, making it a treatment option avoided by rehab facilities in many instances. For example, those with a disease that affects the lungs or airways shouldn’t use this drug. It increases the risk of falling, so it’s not suitable for the elderly in most cases. Those with life-long inherited blood diseases, personality disorders, liver disease, muscle weakness and sleep apnea should avoid this drug completely. It’s not suitable for children under the age of 16.
When it is used?
The drug is used in cases where the benefit of controlling withdrawal is greater than the risks. It’s only used on a short-term basis, usually for under a week. And it’s only used in cases where the person doesn’t have any serious conditions that would affect or be affected by Tranxene. Due to its risk of dependency, it’s usually not the best option to control seizures and addiction symptoms, considering it can cause them. People on it should never stop taking it abruptly. A taper is needed to avoid withdrawal.