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Librium Abuse, Addiction, And Treatment Options

Medically reviewed by

Jennifer Cousineau, MSCP, LPCI, NCC

April 16, 2019

Librium is a benzodiazepine prescribed to treat anxiety, alcohol withdrawal symptoms, and also to calm preoperative patients. Librium has risk factors for abuse and addiction.

What Is Librium?

Librium is the brand name of the drug compound chlordiazepoxide HCl. Chlordiazepoxide was the original prototype of benzodiazepine and was first used in 1960. This drug was widely accepted in the beginning, as it was replacing seemingly more dangerous barbiturates, but eventually, the dangers of Librium and other benzos increased the restrictions for use.

Librium is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant and is intended to treat symptoms of anxiety or withdrawal from alcohol. Librium has qualities that make it a standard medication when attempting to prevent withdrawal symptoms like aggression, agitation, seizures, or anxiety.

Librium interacts with the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors in the brain, inducing an overall calming effect. GABA receptors slow down brain function, reducing inhibitions, causing sedative and calming effects. Abusing Librium or using Librium with other CNS depressants, like alcohol or opioids, can intensify these effects and also result in euphoria.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) classifies Librium as a schedule IV controlled substance due to its potential for abuse, dependence, and addiction.

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Librium Effects

Librium can have varying effects on people, due to a number of factors. The same dose given to two different people can have different effects. A prescribed dose of Librium will cause relaxation, decrease in anxiety, ease agitation, relax muscles, and an overall sense of calm.

There is a potential for unwanted effects of Librium, such as:

  • drowsiness
  • coordination issues
  • confusion
  • swelling
  • nausea
  • constipation
  • menstrual irregularities
  • changes in libido
  • muscle spasms

Often times, an adjustment in dosage will decrease or eliminate these side effects. However, when a person takes Librium in a way that it is not prescribed (also called Librium abuse), the potential for these side effects increases significantly.

Librium Abuse

Abusing Librium by snorting, chewing, injecting, or increasing dosage can not only increase the risk of side effects but also can result in some or all of the following:

  • vertigo
  • slurred speech
  • vision problems
  • motor skill impairment
  • sleepiness
  • tremors
  • blackouts
  • depression
  • abdominal pain

Even higher doses of Librium can result in:

  • mood swings
  • euphoria
  • extremely impaired movement and reflexes
  • aggressive, erratic, or hostile behavior
  • seizures
  • jaundice
  • overdose
  • death

Abusing Librium in any way can increase the rate that a person develops tolerance and dependence to Librium. Tolerance occurs when higher doses of Librium are taken to experience the same effect that lower doses previously had.

As the amount of Librium increases, the body becomes more accustomed to having Librium. So much so that the person has to keep taking Librium in order to feel ‘normal’. Tolerance and physical dependence are precursors to a budding Librium addiction.

All of these risk factors increase if a person who is abusing Librium is also using other drugs at the same time. Substances like alcohol, cocaine, heroin, morphine, and other benzos increase the risk of addiction.

Is Librium Addictive?

Librium is addictive. Librium activates parts of the brain associated with euphoria, and many people who abuse Librium report that the intense euphoria, as well as an escape from reality, is what they are seeking.

Continually activating pathways in the brain that crave these euphoric experiences can cause permanent changes in the brain. Once this occurs, addiction has developed and it can become quite difficult to stop taking Librium. Psychological and physical withdrawal symptoms emerge if an attempt is made to reduce or stop taking Librium.

Librium Addiction Signs

There are certain behaviors a person struggling with addiction to Librium will display, including:

  • craving for Librium
  • exaggerating or lying about symptoms to get more Librium from doctors
  • engaging in doctor shopping or getting several prescriptions for Librium
  • taking other benzos if they cannot get Librium
  • being unable to stop taking Librium or the even lower amount they are taking
  • avoiding places that they cannot take Librium
  • continuing to use Librium in dangerous situations
  • experiencing withdrawal symptoms without Librium
  • unable to meet responsibilities due to Librium abuse
  • overdose

Librium Overdose

People who struggle with Librium abuse or addiction are at high risk for overdose. If you or your loved one experience any of the following after taking high doses of Librium seek medical attention quickly:

  • trouble breathing
  • irregular heart rate
  • uncoordinated movements
  • weakness
  • tremors
  • speech impairments
  • bluish-colored lips or fingernails
  • unconsciousness
  • seizures

People commonly abuse benzodiazepines with other drugs, especially opioids. Many benzodiazepine overdoses that result in death are found to be a result of combining benzos with alcohol, opioids, or another CNS depressant. Finding immediate medical attention when someone is experiencing these symptoms can help save their life.

Librium Withdrawal And Detoxification

Experts do not encourage a person who is addicted to Librium to stop taking Librium all at once. This can trigger severe withdrawal symptoms, including seizures, respiratory failure, and death. Instead, they suggest a method of tapering down the Librium while providing other medical services to ease the discomfort associated with withdrawal.

This method is offered through medically-supervised detoxification programs that are often available in substance abuse treatment facilities. These detox programs are also usually equipped to explore and provide alternative treatments for the diagnosis that started the Librium prescription, to begin with.

Librium Treatment Options

Starting with the aforementioned detox program, substance abuse programs are equipped to treat any person struggling with a Librium addiction. Methodically removing Librium from the body while preparing them to continue into a substance abuse program is an important first step.

After detox, continuing on to a substance abuse program is highly recommended. It is during that time that the person can develop a better understanding of what caused their addiction, and how to better manage the problems at hand.

Using evidence- and outcome-based treatment methods, substance abuse treatment locations provide counseling, workshops, and other group activities to help strengthen and maintain sobriety.

We are ready to help take the first steps toward a new sober beginning. If we can help you or your loved one, contact us today.

Food and Drug Administration - Librium Label

Therapeutic Drug Monitoring - Use and Abuse of the Benzodiazepines

National Institute on Drug Abuse - Benzodiazepines and Opioids

Fishers, Jnos; Ganellin, C. Robin - Analogue-Based Drug Discovery

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