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Mixing Librium (Chlordiazepoxide) And Alcohol: Effects, Dangers, And Addiction Treatment Options

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

Medically reviewed by

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

May 7, 2019

Combining Librium (chlordiazepoxide) with alcohol is a dangerous mix. Drinking while taking Librium may cause breathing difficulties, and can increase risk for other serious consequences such as overdose.

Librium, the brand name for chlordiazepoxide, is primarily used for its sedating effects. Most commonly, it is used to treat panic and anxiety disorders.

Taking Librium with other drugs that haven’t been approved by your doctor can be dangerous. This includes drinking while taking Librium. Mixing alcohol and Librium can result in serious side effects, including breathing difficulties and memory problems. It can also increase your risk of an overdose.

Abusing Librium for reasons other than prescribed and mixing it with alcohol is a serious problem. If you or someone you know is abusing Librium and alcohol, addiction treatment may be needed.

What Is Librium And How Does It Work?

First discovered in 1955, Librium was the first benzodiazepine (‘benzo’) to enter the drug market in 1960. Since its development, many other anti-anxiety medications have also been introduced, including other benzos such as Xanax and Klonopin.

Librium is primarily known to affect a chemical in the brain known as GABA. Librium enhances GABA activity, which can slow certain functions controlled by the central nervous system. This results in Librium’s sedative effects. Librium can also increase appetite, and reduce breathing and heart rates.

Other potential side effects of Librium include:

  • dry mouth
  • dizziness
  • fatigue
  • confusion
  • troubles with memory
  • edema
  • nausea
  • depression
  • constipation

Librium is currently FDA-approved to treat symptoms of anxiety disorders and acute alcohol withdrawal. Other off-label uses include use as a muscle relaxant, anti-convulsant, or to help people fall asleep.

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Effects Of Librium And Alcohol

Like Librium, alcohol can also produce a sense of calm and relaxation. Mixing the two can cause these and other effects to be even more intense. This includes extreme drowsiness and dizziness, as well as severe symptoms of stopped breathing and loss of consciousness.

Other effects of mixing Librium and alcohol can include:

  • confusion
  • memory problems
  • impaired motor control
  • strange behavior
  • slow or shallow breathing
  • increased risk for overdose

Dangers Of Mixing Librium And Alcohol

The combined effects of Librium and alcohol on the brain can quickly overwhelm the body. This can lead to life-threatening symptoms, particularly with high doses or heavy drinking.

In the short-term, increased risk for overdose is perhaps the most serious danger. However, some other consequences, such as liver damage can also occur from long-term alcohol and Librium abuse.

Increased Risk For Overdose

Abusing Librium by taking large or multiple doses can lead to overdose. This can be even more likely when Librium is chewed, snorted, smoked, or injected.

Mixing alcohol with Librium can cause overdose faster than when Librium is taken alone. This can have dangerous effects on breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure. Hallucinations, slurred speech, and coma can also occur.

Librium overdose is unlikely to be deadly on its own. Mixing with alcohol, however, an overdose may cause more serious complications, including death.

Liver Damage

Liver damage and disease is a common consequence of long-term alcohol abuse. The amount of damage can be mild to severe, depending on several factors. Late-stage liver disease caused by alcohol abuse can be irreversible, and in serious cases may require a transplant.

Although rare, Librium abuse can also potentially cause damage to the liver. Mixing it with alcohol may increase the risk of experiencing toxic effects.

Is Librium Safe For Alcohol Withdrawal?

Many medical detox programs for drug and alcohol abuse include the use of certain medicines to ease severe withdrawal symptoms. As a known sedative, Librium has been tested for its effectiveness in easing severe panic, agitation, and even tremors during alcohol withdrawal.

While short-term use of Librium during alcohol detox may be safe, caution is advised. Experts recommend careful monitoring, as people with a history of substance abuse may be more likely to become dependent on or abuse Librium.

Anxiety And Substance Abuse

Substance abuse commonly co-occurs with mental disorders like anxiety. One reason for this is the calming effects of substances like alcohol and Librium. Many people who abuse benzos and alcohol use these substances to cope with feelings of anxiety, panic, or to escape memories of past trauma.

Over time, Librium and alcohol can be habit-forming. That is, the body can become tolerant to a drug’s effects, requiring a person to take a higher dose or drink more. Taking more of a drug than prescribed, or drinking heavily, can lead to tolerance much quicker. It can also lead to physical dependence and psychological addiction.

People who struggle with both anxiety and substance abuse may find benefit from dual-diagnosis treatment. This type of treatment addresses co-occurring disorders and can help people find safer ways to manage chronic or acute anxiety.

Addiction Treatment Options For Polysubstance Abuse

Addiction to alcohol and Librium is serious, and you don’t have to face it alone. Substance abuse programs can provide you with the structure and support you need to face and overcome your addiction.

Librium And Alcohol Detox

Most people who abuse alcohol and Librium will need to undergo some form of detox. When your body becomes dependent on a substance, stopping or reducing your use may result in mild to severe withdrawal symptoms.

Both alcohol and Librium can cause dangerous withdrawal symptoms when stopped all at once, including seizures and respiratory failure. Entering a medical detox program can relieve the burden of trying to manage symptoms alone and prevent potential dangers.

Medically assisted detox involves 24-hour supervision within a safe environment. Within medical detox, medical professionals can monitor and treat severe symptoms as needed. They can also keep you nourished and help you avoid becoming dehydrated.

Inpatient Treatment

A complex issue such as addiction requires more than a simple solution. Inpatient treatment programs can provide multidimensional care to treat all aspects of substance abuse.

Many people feel scared or unsure of their ability to remain sober following detox. Drug and alcohol cravings can be strong in early sobriety, and can be difficult to manage without significant support.

Many rehab programs aim to help patients learn to manage their triggers and teach life skills for sobriety. The use of certain medications can also be helpful to ease cravings, as well as treat co-occurring anxiety or depression.

Getting Help For Librium And Alcohol Abuse

Seeking help for substance abuse can be life-saving. If you’re unsure of how to find a rehab program or what your options are, you’re not alone, and we can help.

If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse, contact one of our treatment specialists today.

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse And Alcoholism - Harmful Interactions

Food and Drug Administration - LIBRIUM (CHLORDIAZEPOXIDE)

National Institutes of Health - LiverTox — Benzodiazepines

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