Anxiety invades the lives of millions of people every day. They are used to living with overthinking, worrying, and feeling stressed out. Often, they feel powerless as they try to manage life under these conditions, a battle that leaves them feeling drained, frustrated, and seemingly out of hope.
Some people have anxiety disorders that require medication to manage effectively. Librium, a benzodiazepine medication, is a drug prescribed to treat symptoms of anxiety disorders. The medication is also used for people who are experiencing withdrawal symptoms from alcohol use disorder (AUD).
This benzodiazepine is among the first created to replace barbiturates, which are seen as more dangerous medications because of the overdose risks they present.
Librium, once called methaminodiazepoxide, was first patented in 1958. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first approved the drug under the name Librium in 1960.
Today, the drug is prescribed for only short-term treatment. It has a high potential for abuse and addiction. It also causes side effects, including liver damage, fainting, and rashes.
What Is Librium?
Librium, known generically as chlordiazepoxide, is a central nervous system depressant (CNS) that regulates anxiety, stress, and fear by slowing down CNS activity and blocking nerve impulses. CNS drugs calm activity in the brain, which can be at high levels for people who struggle with anxiety disorders as well as those who need to relax as they undergo professional medical detox for withdrawal from alcohol. The drug can also be used as a muscle relaxant.
How Does Librium Work?
Like other benzodiazepines, Librium increases levels of the brain chemical called gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA). Once the drug enters the body, it mimics naturally produced GABA and binds to the brain’s GABA receptors. It stimulates those receptors to get them to produce more GABA than they would on their own.
Flooding the brain with this chemical can create feelings of sedation and intoxication. Sleep is also easier to induce once the drug has affected the brain. Librium’s long-lasting effects make it easier to stay asleep, something that may be music to the ears of people who struggle with insomnia and other disorders that make it hard to get some rest.
Side effects can accompany Librium use. Among them are:
- Skin rashes
- Swelling of the legs, feet
- Poor coordination
- Increased sex drive
- Reduced muscle strength
- Reduced cognitive (brain) function
Recreational users may experience more severe side effects as they are likely to use more than the prescribed amount; another reason why such use is dangerous and not recommended.
Because of its potency, authorities advise that children, senior adults, and pregnant women should take care when using Librium. Unborn children can be harmed, and people age 65 and older are advised to seek medications that are safer for them to take.
What Are the Signs of Librium Addiction?
Some Librium users may not realize they can become addicted to Librium because it’s a prescription drug that came from a doctor, and not one sold on the streets, such as heroin or cocaine. However, Librium is still a drug, which means it can be misused and abused, even by those who received a proper prescription from a medical doctor.
Librium is a potent medication. It is possible to develop tolerance to the drug within days of taking it. Taking it regularly can be habit-forming, especially when consumed for two to three weeks. A person who gets used to taking it in high doses can come to depend on it, physically and/or mentally.
People abuse this drug for its intoxicating high. Users may even pair Librium with other addictive drugs and alcohol for a more intense experience.
This practice is called polydrug use. If they choose to use Librium with other depressant substances, such as opioids and alcohol, or even other benzodiazepines, the risk of having complications from side effects increases greatly.
It also increases the risk of death. According to data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “The number of deaths involving benzodiazepines in combination with other synthetic narcotics has been increasing steadily since 2014 while deaths involving benzodiazepines without any opioids has remained steady.”
If you or someone you know is battling with Librium addiction, it’s essential to know the warning signs and dangers that signal heavy, problematic use. Someone with a Librium addiction may show these symptoms:
- Memory loss
- Appetite changes
- Changes in sleeping habits
- Withdrawal from normal activities
- Declining performance at school or work
- Impaired cognitive ability
As regular or frequent abuse slips further into an addiction, the following may be noticed:
When a Librium addiction is beginning to form, more pronounced symptoms may begin to appear. These symptoms include:
- Misusing Librium
- Doctor shopping for multiple Librium prescriptions
- Lying to relatives about Librium use
- Using illegal methods to obtain Librium
- Making Librium the main focus of the day
- Neglecting responsibilities or relationships
- Feeling financial strain as a result of a drug or alcohol habit
- Thinking about quitting but failing to do so
- Taking extreme doses to combat a growing tolerance
- Rapid heart rate, tremors, or sweating when trying to stop
Serious side effects can result from recreational Librium use. Among them are:
- Breathing difficulties
- Memory problems
- Lack of muscle coordination
- Reduced blood flow to the brain
- Liver damage
Particular attention should be given to overdose as it is the primary side effect that can lead to coma and death.
- Blurred vision
- Coordination loss
- Impaired reflexes
- Low blood pressure
- Slowed heartbeat
- Dangerously slow and shallow breathing
- Drifting in and out of consciousness
- Bluish skin around the lips and fingernails
If you or someone you know has overdosed on Librium, get emergency help right away. Call 911 to get first responders on the scene as soon as possible. You can also call the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.
What Is Involved in Librium Addiction Treatment?
Treating Librium addiction effectively requires professional help from a facility that specializes in drug and/or alcohol treatment. Upon entering a suitable program, medical detoxification will start. This process helps to stabilize the patient to remove all traces of the substances in the body.
A team of medical and addiction care professionals will be on hand to monitor patients as they receive medications (if needed) to clear them of discomfort or pain as their bodies work to regulate themselves and recover without the abused substance present.
When it comes to benzodiazepines, users are advised not to take on this withdrawal process by themselves or in the company of people who don’t know what they are doing. It is a huge risk to do so. Withdrawing from benzodiazepines requires people who are knowledgeable about the class of drugs and know what to do in case an emergency arises.
Detoxing from the use of benzodiazepines such as Librium can be unpredictable, and even life-threatening. It can bring on conditions such as delirium, psychosis, hallucinations, and grand mal seizures. A person can also exhibit suicidal behavior when in withdrawal from benzodiazepines.
Anyone who takes the drug for some time is advised not to quit the drug suddenly. Users are advised to first consult with a doctor before stopping the use of this medication. The usual approach is a doctor will taper the patient off the medication slowly before stopping it altogether. This is a safer approach as it gives the body time to end its dependence on the drug.
People who abuse Librium in larger-than-normal amounts in a short time may go through benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome. During this time, common withdrawal symptoms intensify, and ones unique to this kind of withdrawal may occur, too. This is another reason it is recommended that enrolling in an addiction treatment program at a reputable facility is important. A trained team of professionals can address any complications that patients face.
Detox can last up to a week, but factors unique to each person will determine the timeline. After this part wraps up, patients are advised to continue their treatment for Librium addiction to get the therapy they need and prevent relapse.
The treatment plan developed for Librium addiction will depend on the factors and the situation that is unique to the person who is following it. An inpatient or residential program may be needed if the addiction is severe. An inpatient or residential placement allows for more time on-site at a facility as the person addresses the issues causing the addiction.
If the person’s Librium addiction is in the early or mild stages, then an intensive outpatient (IOP) or outpatient addiction (OP) treatment program may be the best placement. The difference between IOP and OP is the number of hours. IOP requires more than nine hours of weekly clinical services, while OP requires fewer.
Both kinds of treatment allow the person to receive treatment a specific number of therapy hours a week at a facility. When the day’s required hours have been met, the person returns home or to another place of residence. This arrangement allows people to receive the help they need and continue to meet their responsibilities.
Outpatient services are also beneficial to people who feel they need more support to avoid a relapse. Aftercare is recommended for everyone in recovery as it keeps them focused on their sobriety goals.
How Dangerous Is Librium?
Leaving a Librium addiction untreated is leaving the door open for deadly side effects and situations to come in and harm someone or end their life. Prescribed use of the drug can be beneficial to people who need help with managing anxiety or alcohol withdrawal symptoms, but the side effects that result from misuse or abuse can be fatal.
Someone who abuses Librium or other benzodiazepines may feel intoxicating effects that are similar to alcohol. This makes them dangerous should they get behind the wheel of a vehicle or operate any kind of machinery under the influence. Librium also has a long half-life of anywhere from five to 30 hours, according to VeryWell Mind.
That means it takes more than a day for half the drug to process out of the body. Someone who chronically abuses the drug risks having it build up in their system, which means tolerance to the drug will increase and addiction can set in more quickly. Over time, the dangers will compound.
Experimenting with recreational Librium doses is a sure way to overdose. Taking these drugs with other depressants is dangerous and, again, can lead to permanent injury or loss of life.
Librium Abuse Statistics
It is estimated that 11% to 15% of American households have a Librium prescription.
Roughly 9,000 people died in overdoses involving benzodiazepines in 2015.
In 2011, 30% of opioid overdose deaths involved benzos, too.