Librium is a prescription drug primarily used to treat anxiety disorders. It’s in a class of drugs called benzodiazepines, and it was the first of its kind when introduced in 1960. While Librium is an effective drug for many people who need it, it may be abused, leading to chemical dependence and addiction. Learn more about Librium addiction and how rehab and addiction treatment can help.
What Is Librium?
Librium is a brand-name prescription medication for a drug called chlordiazepoxide. It’s primarily used to treat anxiety disorders, but it may also be used to treat insomnia and alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Librium is in a class of drugs called benzodiazepines, and they are commonly used to treat issues like insomnia and anxiety.
Benzodiazepines were first introduced in the United States in the 1960s, quickly becoming the most popular class of prescription drugs worldwide. Chlordiazepoxide was the first of these drugs to be synthesized and approved for medical use in the U.S. It was created in 1958 and introduced in 1960. Today, it’s specifically used as a short-term therapeutic treatment for anxiety.
As a benzodiazepine, Librium works as a central nervous system depressant, which means that it slows down activity in the brain. More specifically, it influences a chemical messenger in the brain called gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA is involved in rest, sleep, and relaxation, and it works by binding to its chemical receptors to slow down activity in your central nervous system. Librium also binds to GABA receptors and helps make GABA more effective. It causes more pronounced depressing effects, including anxiety relief, hypnosis, sedation, and relaxation.
However, like other depressants, Librium works in the brain in a way that’s similar to alcohol. In high enough doses, it can cause alcohol-like intoxication. Because of its potential for abuse, Librium is a Schedule IV drug and a federally controlled substance. That means it has some potential for misuse despite its accepted medical uses. Librium can lead to tolerance, dependence, and addiction if used regularly for several weeks in a row. For that reason, long-term use is usually avoided. Addiction is more likely when the drug is abused as a recreational substance.
What Are the Signs of Librium Addiction?
Addiction is an officially diagnosed disease in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). It’s officially diagnosed as a substance use disorder, and it may be mild, moderate, or severe. The DSM lists several identifying factors, including 11 common symptoms. The number of the symptoms you experience will determine the severity of the disorder, with six symptoms or more indicating a severe disorder. Symptoms include cravings and urges to use. Physical signs include chemical dependence and withdrawal symptoms. Behavioral signs include taking the drug despite consequences and spending more and more time using the drug.
There may also be some other signs of Librium addiction that are specific to the drug, including specific signs of intoxication and withdrawal symptoms. Someone actively misusing Librium may show some signs that are similar to alcohol abuse, including intoxication, slurred speech, drowsiness, and motor function impairment. It may also affect their sleep schedule, causing hypersomnia, or sleeping at odd hours.
As you become dependent on a drug, you may experience withdrawal symptoms when you miss a dose or try to cut back. Librium withdrawal can involve rebound anxiety and insomnia. It may also cause shaky hands, tremors, irritability, and restlessness.
What Is Involved In Librium Addiction Treatment?
While addiction is a chronic disease affecting the reward center of the brain, it can be treated. The treatment you receive will depend on your specific needs. For addiction treatment to be effective, it needs to be personalized to your physical, psychological, and mental health needs. When you first enter an addiction treatment program or speak to a doctor about a substance use disorder, you will complete an assessment to determine your needs. High-level needs may require inpatient treatment, while lower-level needs can be treated in outpatient settings. Here’s a breakdown of some of the levels of care you may go through in inpatient settings.
Medical detox is a high level of care in addiction treatment. It usually involves intensive inpatient treatment that medical professionals manage. Detox is usually reserved for people with high-level medical needs, especially if they are likely to go through serious withdrawal symptoms. Depressants like Librium can cause severe and even deadly withdrawal symptoms, so detox is often necessary to avoid serious medical complications. Detox can also involve psychotherapy to help address some of the underlying causes of your addiction, including mental health issues that are co-occurring.
Inpatient treatment involves 24-hour care like detox, but it’s a slightly lower level of care. Inpatient treatment may involve medical monitoring for people who may have a risk of medical complications. In some cases, depressants can cause serious withdrawal symptoms like seizures after the acute withdrawal phase has ended. Medical monitoring can help keep you safe as you continue to go through addiction treatment.
Residential treatment also falls under this level of care. Residential care involves 24-hour care while you live in on-campus housing. At this level of care, your treatment will be clinically managed, which means it’s reserved for people with lower-level medical needs than those of the two higher categories of inpatient treatment. In residential care, you will go through many hours of treatment services each week, including individual and group therapy sessions.
Outpatient treatment involves services that you receive at a facility during the day while you live independently at night. Outpatient treatment allows you to live independently, and as you encounter challenges to your sobriety, you can address those issues in treatment. There are several levels of outpatient care, including partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient, and outpatient treatment. These levels are defined by the amount of time you spend in treatment each week. Partial hospitalization involves 20 or more hours of care each week. Intensive inpatient treatment involves at least nine hours of treatment each week. Anything less is standard outpatient treatment.
Behavioral therapies are common in addiction treatment. This class of therapeutic approaches addresses behavioral issues through examining your thinking, acceptance, and increasing motivation. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is among the most common. CBT is used to address your thoughts and how they can lead to unproductive or destructive behaviors.
How Dangerous Is Librium?
Librium is a relatively safe medication when used as prescribed. But when it’s misused, it can be potentially dangerous. Benzodiazepines are depressants, which means they can slow down nervous system function, even some important functions. In moderate-to-high doses, it can cause symptoms similar to alcohol intoxication, which can lead to reckless behavior, accidents, and injuries.
Taking it before you drive can be life-threatening, just like drunk driving would be. People over the age of 65 may need to find alternative medications. You may lose your ability to process benzodiazepines efficiently as you age, which can lead to more pronounced side effects like dizziness and drowsiness.
Benzodiazepines are less likely to cause life-threatening accidental overdose symptoms than other depressants like barbiturates or alcohol. Still, in high enough doses, that can be potentially deadly. Overdose symptoms involve heavy intoxication, sedation, loss of consciousness, and coma. Deadly benzodiazepine overdoses often involve hypotension, a slow heart rate, and respiratory depression. Respiratory depression is a common cause of deadly depressant overdoses. It happens when the drug starts to shut down vital, unconscious functions of your nervous system, including your breathing and heart rate. Respiratory depression can lead to oxygen deprivation, coma, and death.
Librium misuse may be associated with some long-term health risks as well. Librium is usually reserved for short-term use, but if it’s used for too long, it can lead to health problems. Like alcohol, benzodiazepines can be hard on your liver. Chronic abuse can damage your liver and lead to liver disease.
Of course, long-term benzodiazepine misuse can lead to a substance use disorder. Addiction can increase your risk of medical and psychological problems over time. Getting caught in a cycle of overdose and drug misuse can also increase your risk of an overdose or other long-term health issues.
Librium Abuse Statistics
Benzodiazepines haven’t been the focus of the addiction and overdose crisis over the past several years, but these prescriptions are routinely the cause of substance use disorders, and they’re found in overdose cases. According to the 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, around 1.7 percent of people 12 years and older misused prescriptions in the past year before taking the survey. That accounts for about 4.8 million people in that age group.
In the same year, around 1.2 million people said they experienced a substance use disorder related to sedatives and tranquilizers like Librium.
Benzodiazepines aren’t likely to cause a deadly, accidental overdose on their own, though it is possible. Most deadly overdose cases that involve benzodiazepines also involve other substances like opioids and alcohol.