Anxiety disorders are the most common form of mental illness affecting the United States. Nearly 40 million adults aged 18 or older, which translates to 18.1 percent of the population, struggle with it annually. While anxiety disorders are highly treatable, only a small portion of the population struggling (36.9 percent) will receive the treatment they need. Those with anxiety disorders are three to five times more likely to visit a doctor, and six times more likely to be hospitalized for psychiatric disorders.
With a significant portion of the population struggling with anxiety, many take medications like Librium to treat their symptoms. Unfortunately, benzodiazepines such as Librium have the potential to cause dependence, which can lead to severe addiction.
Stopping Librium can be dangerous, even when the person using it has not developed an acute tolerance. To efficiently stop using the drug, there must be a tapering process in place that allows for the safe removal from the body.
What is Librium?
Librium, also known by its generic name chlordiazepoxide, is a prescription benzodiazepine designed to treat anxiety and alcohol withdrawal. In some cases, it is used in anxiety-producing situations and can calm a patient before surgery.
Due to its classification as a benzodiazepine, it impacts the effects of GABA in our brain, which is a natural chemical responsible for controlling nerve activity.
Librium includes the typical side effects you’d expect from a benzodiazepine, which include:
- Blurred vision
- Mood changes
- Slurred speech
- Issues with sexual functions
- Problems with urination
- Clumsy behavior
Unlike other anxiety medications, Librium is not designed to treat generalized anxiety disorder. It should only be used to treat symptoms of acute anxiety for two to four weeks due to its high potential for abuse and dependency.
Even when Librium is prescribed in good faith, a person can develop a dependence on the drug. The chances of addiction are much higher when it is abused for extended periods.
As mentioned earlier, the Librium classification falls under the group of drugs known as benzodiazepines. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) classifies it as a Schedule IV controlled substance, meaning its chemicals are defined as drugs with a lower abuse potential or risk of dependence. Other examples of Schedule IV drugs include Soma, Xanax, Valium, Ativan, Ambien, and Tramadol. Although the risk is lower, that doesn’t mean it’s zero. However, for that reason, it’s why a drug like Librium can be used during alcohol withdrawal syndrome to help aid the individual in overcoming their condition without severe symptoms. Alcohol withdrawal is a serious condition, but why is Librium used for it?
Why is Librium Used in Alcohol Withdrawal?
Of all the illicit substances on earth, alcohol withdrawal is among the most dangerous. It’s crucial that alcohol users seek refuge in a medically supervised detox program to overcome their alcohol addiction. When someone detoxes from the substance, a team of clinicians and addiction specialists will provide them with medications to keep them comfortable. Librium is one of those medications that is commonly used.
Librium is beneficial in alcohol withdrawal treatment due to its ability to help people relax and deal with the emotional side effects that occur. In addition to calming nerves, it can also relax muscles, which prevents some alcohol detox symptoms.
Common Side Effects During Alcohol Detox
The process of overcoming an addiction to alcohol is dangerous. Those who start drinking with their friends never imagined it could end up like this, but unfortunately, this is their reality. It doesn’t have to be that way, of course. Seeking professional addiction treatment that offers a Librium taper to help relieve some of alcohol withdrawal’s severest symptoms is a game-changer. Librium taper for alcohol withdrawal will reduce the chances of developing seizures or delirium tremens (DTs). However, nothing is certain; you’re still at risk for severe symptoms, which is why you can feel comfortable knowing you’re in the hands of professionals.
If you have an old prescription for Librium to treat another underlying condition, you might think to yourself, “Why can’t I forgo this process without seeking professional care and wasting time?’ First of all, addiction treatment is never a waste. Going through a Librium taper for alcohol detox always requires a medical care professional’s guidance. If something adverse were to occur, you wouldn’t know what to do or have the necessary resources to treat something as serious as a seizure. For that reason, you must consider getting the help you need. Chlordiazepoxide weaning isn’t a science set in stone. The doctors overseeing your care will see how you respond and act appropriately.
The side effects you experience during alcohol detox can range from mild to severe. These will depend on how much you drank and for how long. Six hours after you stop drinking, you’ll experience the following mild symptoms:
- Shaky hands
When you reach the 48-hour point, you’ll experience more severe symptoms like hallucinations. These are common within the first 12 to 24 hours after you stop drinking but worsen in severity around the 48-hour mark. Seizures are also prevalent during this point, but the hallucinations cause you to hear, see, and feel things that aren’t there. At this stage, you’ll wish you were in a medical detox program that could provide medications like Librium to dull these symptoms.
The next 48 to 72 hours are going to be a nightmare and continue to increase in severity. Delirium tremens (DTs) is a common condition during this time frame for heavy drinkers. Delirium tremens can be severe. Symptoms include delusions and vivid hallucinations. Only an estimated 5 percent of those who go through alcohol detox will experience them, but they can be life-threatening. If you encounter the condition, this is what you can expect:
- High blood pressure
- Racing heart
- Heavy sweating
For alcohol withdrawal, you must start a specialized program to overcome your symptoms. However, there is always a risk when using a drug like Librium to manage them. Below, we’ll discuss Librium withdrawal and the dangers you can expect from it.
Someone that has been taking Librium recreationally for more than a couple weeks is likely to experience withdrawals when reducing the dose or stopping altogether. Withdrawal symptoms are likely indicators that your body has adapted to the presence of Librium in your system and relies on it to function. Abrupt cessation of the drug from your system will be difficult for the body to adjust quickly.
Withdrawal symptoms happen while your body adjusts and can begin to function normally again. Depending on the history of substance use and other personal factors, the withdrawal process will range from a few days to weeks. How long you used Librium and how much you take including age, body mass, metabolism and other drugs will influence the timeline.
All benzodiazepines can cause physical dependence that results in withdrawal symptoms. The most common Librium withdrawal symptoms include:
- Blurred vision
- Muscle pain
- Body Aches
- Nausea and vomiting
Withdrawal symptoms can be severe in those who take high doses of Librium for extended periods. Many of the symptoms listed above are uncomfortable, but some of them require serious medical attention. You should enroll in a medical detoxification program to make sure you stay safe throughout the withdrawal process.
How to Taper off Librium
A Librium taper is a method that medical detox programs use to mitigate withdrawal symptoms. Medical experts strongly advise against stopping Librium without tapering, and it is recommended for those who have been using Librium for more than a year. It can also be suitable for those using it for less time as well. To avoid dangerous withdrawal symptoms, a tapering plan must be put in place.
Medical experts highlight that benzodiazepine tapering plans must be tailored for their specific needs. There are varying factors to take into consideration when creating a tapering plan that include:
- Reducing the dosage by 25 percent every two weeks
- The plan should allow enough time for a gradual taper
- Some individuals can handle a 10 percent reduction each week
- Adjustments can be made to the taper as withdrawal symptoms are encountered or avoided
- The success of the plan can be enhanced by participation in cognitive behavioral therapy
The objective of an effective tapering plan is to prevent excess withdrawal symptoms. It is uncommon that no withdrawal symptoms will occur. As your body is going through an adjustment period, following through with a well-planned taper is the best way to restore health and well-being.