Librium is the brand name of chlordiazepoxide, a benzodiazepine that was introduced for medical use in 1960. As a sedative-hypnotic medication, Librium is commonly used to treat anxiety and insomnia, and it helps curb alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
Even though Librium is regarded as a safe substance to use, it is still a benzodiazepine and should be used with caution. Librium belongs to the same category as diazepam (Valium) and alprazolam (Xanax), two commonly abused drugs with a high rate of addiction.
Librium, along with those other drugs, is being prescribed more than ever before. Between 1996 and 2013, benzo prescriptions increased by 67 percent, according to this study. What’s more, benzo use is triggering an unprecedented rate of overdose deaths.
In 2015, benzodiazepine overdoses accounted for 8,791 deaths, which is up from 1,135 in 1999, reports CNBC.
What is Librium?
Librium often comes in capsule form. The standard dosage amounts are anywhere between 5-25 mg (milligrams), three to four times a day, according to RxList.com. The dosage amount depends on the severity of the condition being treated.
For example, more acute and severe anxiety will often call for 20-25 mg, whereas mild anxiety, such as before surgery, can be treated with 5-10 mg.
When treating alcohol withdrawal symptoms, doctors may prescribe 50-100 mg of Librium. Because of the severe and immediate effects of alcohol withdrawal, doctors start at very high doses before they slowly lower the amount administered.
Like other benzodiazepines, Librium works by binding to the brain’s GABA receptors. GABA is a neurotransmitter responsible for inhibiting the body’s nerve impulses and calming you down. Librium increases the levels of this inhibitory signaling, which depresses the central nervous system to produce feelings of relaxation and sedation.
The problem is that the brain quickly adapts to these new levels. Thus, it doesn’t take much regular use for an individual to develop a tolerance and require higher doses of Librium to achieve the same effects.
Because of this rapid tolerance, Librium is only intended for short-term treatment, typically about two to four weeks. When someone begins using Librium outside of the prescribed dosage, they can quickly become psychologically dependent, and from there, escalate to a full-blown addiction.
Side Effects of Librium
According to MedlinePlus.gov, the following side effects occur with Libirum use:
- Dry mouth
- Appetite changes
Severe side effects also come with Librium use, which include:
- Irregular heartbeat
- Frequent urination
- Restlessness or excitement
- Difficulty urinating
- Blurred vision
- Changes in sex drive or ability
- Shuffling walk
- Persistent, fine tremor or inability to sit still
- Yellowing of the skin or eyes
- Difficulty breathing or swallowing
- Severe skin rash
What Are the Librium Withdrawal Symptoms?
Librium withdrawal symptoms can vary from fairly mild to potentially life-threatening. Factors such as how much Librium someone has used and whether or not they detox through a gradual dose-reduction plan can affect the withdrawal experience. Librium withdrawal symptoms include these milder symptoms:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Increased blood pressure and heart rate
More severe symptoms can appear in someone suffering from benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome, which occurs after heavy, long-term abuse of Librium. Those symptoms include:
- Panic attacks
- Memory loss
- Muscle pain
- Suicidal thoughts and behavior
Because of the danger of these more intense and potentially fatal symptoms, it is highly recommended that individuals undergo detoxification at a professional facility where they can be closely monitored around the clock.
What Are the Stages of The Librium Withdrawal Timeline?
While there is a general timeline for the stages of Librium withdrawal, there are also many factors that can affect both the length of withdrawal and the severity of the symptoms. These can lead to very different experiences from person to person. Some common factors include:
- How long an individual has been abusing Librium
- How much Librium were they taking
- How they were taking it (in tablet form, snorting, via injection, etc.)
- If they were abusing Librium in conjunction with alcohol or other drugs
- Whether they detox on a tapering schedule
Perhaps the most significant factor in the Librium withdrawal timeline is, as previously mentioned, whether the individual is suffering from benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome.
If someone has been regularly abusing large amounts of Librium for long periods, they are highly likely to experience more intense symptoms associated with benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome.
This syndrome will also cause psychological symptoms such as insomnia, depression, and anxiety to linger significantly longer than they otherwise would, sometimes even months after detox. Otherwise, the general timeline for Librium withdrawal occurs in these stages:
- 1 to 3 days: Librium only reaches its peak effectiveness several hours after being ingested, so it has a much longer half-life than most benzodiazepines. This means it can take as long as 48 hours after the last use for withdrawal symptoms to appear. Early symptoms will most likely be limited to anxiety, sweating, and irregular heart rate.
- 4 to 7 days: Psychological symptoms, as well as the rest of the physical symptoms, will become more present during this time and begin to increase in severity.
- Week 2: During this time, symptoms will be at their peak intensity as well as their most dangerous. This is when the most serious symptoms, such as seizures, will be most likely to occur.
- 3 to 4 weeks: At this point, the physical symptoms will have either significantly lessened or faded completely. Some psychological symptoms; however, will continue to persist, though they will have diminished and become more manageable.
- 1 month and beyond: While withdrawal symptoms will have dissipated for many users by this point, some people, particularly those with benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome, can experience protracted withdrawal and persistent feelings of depression and anxiety.
Why Should I Detox?
Benzodiazepine withdrawal can be a painful and sometimes life-threatening process, and Librium is no different. While it is always better to undergo detoxification at a professional medical facility as opposed to on your own, it is especially crucial to detox from Librium safely.
In a medical detox program, you will be under 24-hour medical supervision by doctors and nurses. They will observe your physical and/or psychological withdrawal symptoms and may or may not administer medications to aid your detoxification process.
Quitting Cold Turkey
The biggest mistake people make when attempting a Librium detox is to do so without medical assistance, which is called going “cold turkey.” This not only makes for a withdrawal that is far more painful than necessary, but it also is much more likely to trigger symptoms that could easily become fatal without medical intervention, such as Grand mal seizures, delirium, or suicidal behavior.
These symptoms can be greatly mitigated or even avoided entirely through the use of a tapering schedule that allows someone to gradually reduce their Librium use in a controlled setting. This tapering schedule occurs under the supervision of a medical professional who is experienced at handling detox safely.“
The most important thing to note is that quitting cold turkey is dangerous, and should almost never be done. Almost all physically addictive drugs require professional treatment for detox. Quitting cold turkey can negatively affect not only your detox stage but your entire treatment program as a whole. Quitting cold turkey results almost always in severe withdrawal symptoms and has many negative effects on the body.”
What is the Next Treatment Step?
It is vital that someone detox from Librium as soon as possible to avoid benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome, but this is only the first step toward treatment.
The path to sobriety does not end at detox. In fact, failing to follow detox with any aftercare treatment or rehabilitation program essentially guarantees a quick relapse. This is especially true with Librium addiction, as the protracted symptoms of cravings, depression, and anxiety cause many people to relapse. Getting treatment will greatly increase the odds of avoiding relapse and remaining abstinent for years to come. Treatment can cover anything from individual therapy, support groups, or residential sober living, depending on the severity of a person’s addiction as well as what works.