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Librium (Chlordiazepoxide) Addiction | Uses, Side Effects, Withdrawal, & Treatment Options

Published on November 13, 2020
woman holding black and green pills Librium Chlordiazepoxide

Librium is a prescription drug that promotes sedation, or feelings of calmness. The brand name for chlordiazepoxide, Librium belongs to a group of medications called benzodiazepines (or “benzos”).

As with other benzodiazepines, Librium can be habit-forming. That’s why most health care providers prescribe it only for short-term or occasional use (such as during a panic attack). 

If you take Librium for a long period of time or in a manner not prescribed by your doctor, you may develop an addiction to it. People who are addicted to Librium should seek help at a substance abuse treatment center. 

What Is Librium Used For?

Librium is used to help treat anxiety disorders such as panic disorder, post-traumatic disorder, and social phobia. Some doctors may also prescribe the use of Librium to calm patients before surgery. 

In addition, the medication can relieve symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, including anxiety, irritability, and restlessness. 

How Does It Work?

Like all benzodiazepines, Librium is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant. It enhances the activity of a neurotransmitter (brain chemical) called gamma-Aminobutyric acid, or GABA. This chemical makes you feel calm and relaxed.

Side Effects Of Librium

The most common side effects of Librium include:

  • dry mouth
  • drowsiness
  • dizziness
  • weakness
  • upset stomach
  • diarrhea or constipation 
  • appetite changes

It can also cause more serious side effects such as:

  • fever
  • tremor
  • trouble sitting still
  • trouble breathing or swallowing
  • rash
  • yellowing of the skin or eyes
  • irregular heartbeat

If you experience these or other unusual side effects, contact your doctor immediately. 

Learn more about Side Effects of Librium

Librium Abuse & Addiction

Librium can make you feel euphoric or “high,” especially at high doses. That’s why some people abuse it. 

Abuse occurs when you take Librium in a manner not prescribed by your doctor, including:

  • taking it at higher doses than prescribed
  • using it more frequently than prescribed
  • using it for a longer period of time than prescribed
  • mixing it with other drugs, such as alcohol or opioids
  • crushing the pills and snorting them
  • using it without a prescription

Libirum abuse often leads to addiction. This disease, which is also called substance use disorder (SUD), makes you feel unable to control your drug use. Addiction can also occur if your doctor tells you to take Librium for a long time. 

Signs Of Librium Addiction

If you abuse or are addicted to Librium, you may: 

  • experience intense cravings for Librium 
  • experience mood swings
  • fall behind at work or school
  • withdraw from family and friends
  • visit multiple doctors to get multiple prescriptions of Librium
  • develop a tolerance, which means you need increasingly higher doses of the drug to achieve the desired effects
  • develop a physical dependence, which means your body relies on the drug to function normally

Librium Withdrawal Symptoms

If you’re physically dependent on Librium and you try to stop taking it, you may experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms such as:

  • anxiety
  • panic attacks
  • irritability 
  • sweating
  • nausea and/or vomiting
  • stomach and muscle cramps
  • trouble sleeping
  • trouble concentrating
  • hand tremor

Whether you take Librium with or without a prescription, talk to a doctor before you try to stop using it. In most cases, the doctor will instruct you to gradually reduce your dosage. 

Also called “tapering,” this strategy can reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms compared to quitting cold turkey. 

Librium Overdose

Overdose can occur when you take a large amount of Librium. People who struggle with Librium abuse or addiction face a higher risk of overdose. 

Signs of benzodiazepine overdose include:

  • blurred or double vision
  • low blood pressure
  • lightheadedness 
  • trouble breathing
  • trouble urinating
  • fast heartbeat
  • bluish lips and/or fingernails
  • confusion 
  • memory loss
  • depression
  • problems with balance and/or coordination 
  • seizures
  • loss of consciousness or coma

Since overdose can be fatal, immediately call 911 or the national Poison Help line (1-800-222-1222) if you or someone else experiences these symptoms.

Librium Addiction Treatment Options

To recover from Librium addiction, most people require medical detox followed by therapy and aftercare.

Medical Detox

During the detoxification process, medical professionals will gradually lower your dosage of Librium until you’re no longer taking the drug at all. 

They’ll closely monitor your physical and mental health and may prescribe medications to ease withdrawal symptoms.

Therapy

After detox, you can start attending therapy at an inpatient or outpatient drug abuse treatment program. The most common forms of therapy for Librium addiction include:

  • behavioral therapy, in which you’ll work with a mental health professional to change unhealthy behaviors and reduce the risk of relapse
  • group therapy, in which you can discuss your challenges and triumphs with other people who are recovering from the disease of addiction
  • family therapy, in which a mental health professional will help you and your family members navigate your recovery

Aftercare

Before you leave your inpatient or outpatient treatment program, your treatment team will work with you to develop a personalized aftercare plan to maintain your recovery. 

Many aftercare plans include:

  • ongoing therapy
  • medications to help manage mental health concerns
  • peer support groups
  • wellness activities like meditation, yoga, and exercise

If you or a loved one is abusing or addicted to Librium, contact an Ark Behavioral Health specialist to learn more about our treatment options.

Librium FAQ

Is Librium Or Xanax Better for Anxiety?

Librium (chlordiazepoxide) and Xanax (alprazolam) are both prescribed to treat anxiety. However, the intensity and length of the drugs’ effects sets these two medications apart.

Chlordiazepoxide has a slow-building, mild, long-lasting therapeutic effect suitable for milder anxiety, or as a treatment for symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.

Alprazolam has a faster, more potent, and shorter lived effect that is useful when dealing with increasingly severe anxiety and panic disorders.

Learn more about Librium Vs. Xanax

Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
This page does not provide medical advice.

National Center for Biotechnology Information - The Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Syndrome
U.S. Food and Drug Administration - Librium C-IV (Chlordiazepoxide HCI) Capsules
U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus - Chlordiazepoxide overdose
U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus - Chlordiazepoxide

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