Librium addiction is a dependence on the benzodiazepine chlordiazepoxide. This drug is used to manage anxiety and alcohol withdrawal, but it is also susceptible to abuse because of the sense of euphoria it imparts. Misuse of Librium can lead to addiction, characterized by uncontrolled use of the drug, impaired functioning in one or more areas of life due to drug use, cravings, tolerance, and withdrawal. Addiction to Librium can be treated through detox, therapy, and support. Lifestyle changes and healthy habits are also important for successful recovery.
What Is Librium Addiction?
Librium is the brand name for a drug called chlordiazepoxide. It belongs to a class of drugs called benzodiazepines that are used to treat acute anxiety and to manage alcohol withdrawal. Chlordiazepoxide was the first benzodiazepine to be synthesized. It went on the market and was made available as a prescription in 1960. There are now several benzodiazepines, including diazepam (Valium), lorazepam (Ativan), and alprazolam (Xanax).
While Librium and other benzodiazepines can be useful in managing anxiety, they are also habit-forming. Librium addiction is the dependence that results in some people who misuse the drug by taking it without a prescription, taking it recreationally, or by taking greater or more frequent doses than what was prescribed. Addiction occurs when misuse is out of control, takes over other activities, and causes tolerance, cravings, and withdrawal. Overdose is a real risk of Librium addiction, but treatment can help reduce or stop use of the drug.
Facts and Statistics
Librium is not the most commonly prescribed benzodiazepine. It is officially approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat anxiety disorders for short periods of time, to manage symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, and to relieve anxiety before surgery.
- Chlordiazepoxide is a schedule IV controlled substance because of its susceptibility to abuse.
- Between 1996 and 2013, the number of prescriptions for benzodiazepines increased by about 30 percent.
- Librium and other benzodiazepines depress the central nervous system and can cause overdose by slowing respiration until a person is no longer breathing.
- The risk of overdose when abusing Librium increases when it’s combined with other depressants, like alcohol and opioids.
- Nearly one-third of overdoses on opioid drugs also involve benzodiazepines.
- Since 2002, fatal overdoses that involved benzodiazepines like Librium have been increasing.
Symptoms and Diagnosis of Librium Addiction
The symptoms of Librium addiction are similar to those caused by addiction to any drug or alcohol, but there are also specific signs that a person may be misusing a benzodiazepine. These include shopping doctors for prescriptions, taking more Librium than prescribed, using someone else’s prescription for the drug, or showing signs of being intoxicated. Librium abuse may cause the following symptoms:
- Poor coordination and impaired reflexes, like someone who is drunk
- A feeling of great joy or euphoria
- Poor judgement
- Impaired memory
- Loss of appetite
- Mood swings
- Slowed breathing and heart rate
- A sense of being confused or disoriented
- Nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pains
Abuse does not always lead to dependence and addiction. There are 11 diagnostic criteria used to determine if someone has a substance use disorder. Experiencing even a few of these can indicate someone has a mild addiction to Librium:
- Losing control over use of the drug and being unable to slow down or stop
- Taking more of the drug than intended
- Spending an inordinate amount of time getting or using Librium
- Craving the drug when not using
- Being unable to meet responsibilities because of drug use
- Using Librium even when it causes relationship problems
- Putting other activities aside to spend more time using Librium or recovering from using it
- Continuing to use it even in dangerous situations, like when driving or operating machinery
- Continuing to use the drug even when it causes health problems or makes them worse
- Developing a tolerance to Librium and taking more to get the same effect
- Feeling withdrawal when not using
Librium overdose can be fatal, so it is important to know the signs and to seek emergency medical care if someone has overdosed or is suspected of having taken too much. As a depressant, chlordiazepoxide slows down breathing, heart rate, and pulse. Overdose can cause them to slow way down, or even stop, resulting in loss of consciousness. Other signs of overdose include inability to move the body, sedation, extreme drowsiness, and coma.
Causes and Risk Factors
Librium addiction is ultimately caused by misuse of this prescription drug. However, not everyone who abuses it will develop an addiction, and exactly why one person does and another does not is not fully understood. In general, the longer a person has been abusing Librium and the larger the amounts taken, the greater the risk of dependence. In some cases, a person who is using Librium as a valid prescription and as directed by a doctor may become dependent, but this is unusual. Chlordiazepoxide is not intended to be used for a long period of time because of this risk.
There are also some known risk factors for abusing drugs like Librium and for developing an addiction. These include having access to the drug. Women are more at risk, for instance, because they are prescribed Librium more often than men. Other risk factors are family history of substance use disorders, a personal history of substance abuse of any type, having experienced trauma or great stress, having a mental illness, or having an impulsive personality.
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Withdrawal and Detox
The experience of withdrawal symptoms is characteristic of any substance use disorder. The process of stopping use of Librium and waiting out withdrawal is called detox. This is the first step in managing the addiction and entering recovery, but it can be very uncomfortable. Chlordiazepoxide withdrawal may cause:
- Increasing anxiety, even panic attacks
- Limb tremors
- Trouble concentrating and thinking
- Irritable mood
- Excessive sweating
- Nausea and vomiting
- Heart palpitations
- Weight loss
- Muscle aches
Librium has the potential to cause harmful and severe withdrawal symptoms, so detox should never be attempted alone and is best done with medical supervision. Withdrawal in severe cases of addiction to chlordiazepoxide can trigger psychosis or seizures that pose a risk of injury. Withdrawal from benzodiazepines can also trigger long-term mental health issues, including anxiety and depression.
An addiction to Librium may co-occur with other substance use disorders or mental illnesses. These types of conditions have similar risk factors, but they can also trigger or worsen one another. For instance, someone with an anxiety disorder may take more Librium than is recommended in an attempt to find relief and to relax, but over time this misuse can lead to an addiction. Alternatively, an individual who abuses Librium may find that the drug worsens underlying symptoms depression, triggering an episode.
Anxiety disorders most commonly co-occur with abuse of chlordiazepoxide and other benzodiazepines. There is also evidence that misuse of benzodiazepines is fairly common among people with severe mental illness, especially anxiety and depression.
Treatment and Prognosis
Detox is the firsts step in treating any substance use disorder. It is especially important with Librium to take this step with supervision. Medically-assisted detox can provide some relief from symptoms and provide a safe environment for the process. It’s also important to recognize that detox alone does little to change substance abuse behaviors. Treatment must continue after detox.
Ongoing treatment may be residential or on an outpatient basis and involves therapy and other supportive services. There are no medications used to treat this type of addiction, but there are behavioral therapies that can help people make positive changes over time. Cognitive behavioral therapy is the basis for treatment and helps patients set and achieve goals, become aware of triggers, recognize signs of relapse, and make healthy lifestyle changes. Patients may also benefit from family therapy and group therapy.
Additional services that may be offered in a good treatment program include mental health screening and treatment, medical care, nutrition and exercise, alternative and creative therapies, recreation, peer support, life skills, and relapse prevention. Training to prevent relapse is a crucial part of treatment, because patients must transition from supportive services to a new way of life at home, without drugs or alcohol. Therapists help patients learn to recognize the early signs of relapse and triggers. They guide patients as they prepare plans for relapse and practice prevention strategies, like relaxation techniques.
Librium addiction can be a terrible illness to battle, but the outlook is good for anyone who is committed to recover and who stays in treatment for an appropriate length of time. With professional support and support from family and friends, it is possible to stop using Librium and to make the lifestyle changes necessary for long-term sobriety.