Onfi is a prescription benzodiazepine drug that is primarily used to treat epilepsy in the United States. Clobazam is the name for the generic form of Onfi, and it is also marketed under the brand names Frisium and Urbanol. In other countries, it is approved as a short-term anxiety treatment and is sometimes used to treat conditions like insomnia, and to manage agitation for people with psychotic disorders. Onfi is commonly prescribed as an add-on treatment for children and adults with Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome. Since Onfi is a benzodiazepine drug, it impacts the brain and central nervous system in specific ways. First, Onfi is a central nervous system depressant. It is a long-acting tranquilizer, which is why it can be used to treat severe anxiety and panic disorders, as well as epilepsy. Unlike some other benzodiazepines like alprazolam, Onfi doesn’t have any antidepressant qualities. Similar to other benzodiazepine drugs, Onfi should only be used for two to four weeks at a maximum, in most cases.
It’s important to understand what benzodiazepines are and what they do in order to understand Onfi’s potential for abuse. Benzodiazepines, or “benzos,” are widely prescribed in the United States. Onfi isn’t necessarily one of the most commonly prescribed benzodiazepine drugs, such as Xanax or Klonopin, but it shares many of the same characteristics and effects. All benzodiazepines have hypnotic, tranquilizing, anti-anxiety, muscle-relaxing and anti-seizure properties. Benzodiazepines are often prescribed to treat social anxiety disorders, insomnia, tremors, sedation before surgery, acute agitation and to manage alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
Benzodiazepines like Onfi are not meant to be used for long-term treatment. They are intended to treat acute symptoms that cannot be managed with another long-term drug. For example, someone who takes a long-term, daily seizure management medication might be prescribed Onfi to use on an as-needed basis. The reason benzodiazepines are not recommended for long-term treatment is because they carry a potential for abuse. In the United States, they are classified as Schedule IV drugs. This means that the drugs have recognized medical uses and benefits but can be habit-forming.
When someone uses Onfi or another benzodiazepine, the drugs interact with GABA receptors. GABA refers to a brain neurotransmitter which calms overactive neural activity. Thus, when someone uses Onfi, or a similar benzodiazepine drug, they will feel calmer and more relaxed. These drugs can also calm the electrical firings in the brain that lead to seizures. Some people may also experience euphoria, or pleasant feelings of relaxation, when taking benzodiazepines. When people seek out that experience, an addiction can develop. Onfi abuse doesn’t necessarily lead to addiction, but it does increase the chance of both addiction and dependence.
Onfi addiction and abuse are not considered to be large issues in the United States because the medicine isn’t frequently prescribed, but benzodiazepine abuse, in general, is a problem. The more exposure the brain has to a psychoactive benzodiazepines, the higher the chances are for addiction. Benzodiazepines change the brain and activate reward pathways, which contributes to addiction. The best way to avoid Onfi use is to take this drug only as instructed and prescribed, and never to use it recreationally. It’s also important for people with a personal or family history of substance use disorder or addiction to speak with their physician openly and honestly before taking a potentially addictive prescription medication.
The use of benzodiazepines like Onfi is often involved in drug overdoses and deaths. These drugs depress the central nervous system and when large doses are used, people may experience fatal respiratory depression. People who use benzodiazepines also tend to use other substances that are CNS depressants, such as alcohol or opioids. Combining or abusing multiple CNS depressants significantly raises the likelihood of an overdose.
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