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Librium Addiction: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment Options

Librium (chlordiazepoxide) is a powerful sedative/hypnotic that is used to treat anxiety and insomnia. It is sometimes used in the treatment of alcohol and drug withdrawal symptoms. Librium, like all benzodiazepines, has a high potential for abuse and addiction.

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What Is Librium?

Librium is a discontinued benzodiazepine that is no longer available. Its generic form, chlordiazepoxide, is still available.

Librium was a popular benzodiazepine that was primarily used to treat anxiety and acute alcohol withdrawal. The drug was also often used for individuals who were afraid and anxious leading up to a major surgical procedure.

The proper dosage of Librium is determined by an individual’s age, overall health, symptoms, and reaction to the drug itself. It is important to follow prescription guidelines when taking Librium and other benzodiazepine drugs. Addiction becomes likely when the drug is abused.

Quick Facts About Librium

  • Librium is no longer available in the U.S. Its generic form, chlordiazepoxide, can still be prescribed.
  • Librium’s half-life is 24 to 48 hours.
  • The drug is used to treat anxiety disorders, preoperative anxiety and tension, and acute alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
  • Chlordiazepoxide is a Schedule IV substance, with a high potential for abuse and addiction. Dependence forms very quickly, presenting a risk with even short-term use.

Side Effects of Librium

Like all drugs, Librium can come with a variety of side effects, which can be broken down into physical and mental side effects.

If you or someone you know experiences serious side effects while taking Librium, contact a medical professional immediately.

Mental Side Effects

Mental side effects of taking Librium include the following:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Drowsiness
  • Hyperactivity
  • Hallucinations
  • Suicidal ideation

Physical Side Effects 

Physical side effects of taking Librium include the following:

  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin)
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Skin rashes
  • Irregular swelling
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Difficulty with breathing or swallowing
  • Slurred speech

When to Contact a Medical Professional

If you or someone you know experiences serious side effects while taking Librium, it’s important to contact a medical professional immediately.

Serious side effects associated with Librium include the following:

  • Trouble urinating
  • Muscle spasms
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Changes in sex drive
  • Mobility issues
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Hallucinations

Suicidal thoughts should be considered a medical emergency.

How Does Addiction to Librium Happen? 

While there isn’t a singular cause of addiction, various factors contribute to its formation. Benzodiazepines change the brain’s neurochemistry, which causes tolerance to build up over time. Individuals can become both physically and mentally addicted to Librium and other benzodiazepine drugs.

Librium can quickly lead to physical dependence. The brain and body begin to expect the continual presence of Librium. If chlordiazepoxide isn’t present in the body, uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous withdrawal symptoms will begin. These symptoms can occur even with smaller doses of the drug present. 

Physical dependence can result in as little as a few days of using chlordiazepoxide. If you have been prescribed chlordiazepoxide for any reason, it’s important to consult with a doctor before stopping use or taking smaller or fewer doses. In general, the drug isn’t recommended for long-term use because of this risk.

Signs & Symptoms of Librium Addiction

If you or someone you know is addicted to chlordiazepoxide, you’ll likely notice some physical and behavioral changes.

Both withdrawal symptoms and overdose symptoms related to Librium should be taken very seriously.

Physical Symptoms 

Physical symptoms of Librium addiction include the following:

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Irregular sleep patterns
  • Muscle spasms
  • Impaired coordination
  • Slurred speech

Mental & Behavioral Symptoms

Mental and behavioral symptoms associated with Librium abuse and addiction include the following:

  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Risky behaviors
  • Doctor shopping (visiting multiple doctors in an effort to get multiple prescriptions for chlordiazepoxide)
  • Engaging in drug-seeking behavior
  • Financial issues due to continued drug use
  • Stealing prescriptions from other people
  • Forging prescriptions
  • Taking Librium in higher doses than prescribed
  • Disengaging from enjoyed hobbies to focus on chlordiazepoxide use

Librium & Other Drug Combinations 

Librium interacts with other drugs. When chlordiazepoxide is abused, it is commonly used with other substances, such as marijuana, alcohol, and other prescription medications like opioids.

Chlordiazepoxide is known to have severe interactions with alcohol as well as sedative hypnotics. When the drug is combined with other benzodiazepine drugs or opioids, the sedative effects are magnified, causing slowed heart rate, depressed breathing, and other respiratory issues. This can even result in coma or death. 

In 2015, benzodiazepines were involved in almost 30 percent of fatal opioid overdoses

Combining Librium with other drugs and substances (sometimes called crossfading) is very dangerous. It should never be done without a doctor’s approval.

Can You Overdose on Librium?

Yes, taking Librium in excessive amounts can result in an overdose. Chlordiazepoxide is considered to be poisonous when taken in high amounts. 

As described above, combining benzodiazepines with other substances, like alcohol and opioids, greatly increases the likelihood of overdose. 

If you believe you or someone you know has overdosed on Librium, seek medical intervention immediately. The primary treatment for benzodiazepine overdose is supportive care, but flumazenil may be used in some cases to acutely treat the issue. If the overdose occurred in conjunction with opioid use, naloxone may be administered to quickly reverse the opioid overdose and potentially save the person’s life. 

Emergency medical care is needed to adequately assess the situation and treat accordingly.

Dangers of Librium Withdrawal & Overdose

Both withdrawal symptoms and overdose symptoms related to Librium should be taken very seriously. 

In some cases, withdrawal can trigger life-threatening withdrawal symptoms, such as seizures. This is why it is incredibly important to not attempt benzodiazepine withdrawal without medical supervision. 

Other serious withdrawal symptoms include difficulty urinating, breathing or swallowing issues, respiratory issues, irregular heartbeat, and dehydration.

Dangerous symptoms of benzodiazepine overdose include low body temperature, shaking or seizures, loss of consciousness, jaundice (yellowing of the skin), abdominal pain, vomiting, and pain. 

Intense withdrawal and overdose symptoms can result in coma or death if unaddressed. 

Treatment Options for Librium Addiction

Most often, treatment for Librium addiction will include medical detox and therapy. 

Medical Detox

Medical professionals recommend tapering off this drug in lieu of quitting cold turkey in order to avoid intense withdrawal symptoms. Do not attempt to stop taking Librium on your own.

A tapered approach to withdrawal involves a doctor prescribing increasingly lower doses of benzodiazepines over a period of weeks or months. Eventually, you will taper down to zero.  These decreasing doses allow the body to acclimate to less and less Librium in the system. Most tapering programs last around eight weeks.


Therapy is the core of addiction treatment. In sessions, clients work with therapists to determine the root causes of their substance abuse. By identifying these triggers for drug abuse, they can begin to build plans to make better choices going forward.

Individuals learn how to build healthier habits that support a life in recovery. An emphasis is often placed on cognitive behavioral therapy, where the relationship between thoughts and behaviors is emphasized. By changing their thoughts, individuals learn how to also change their behaviors.

A big part of addiction treatment is building a healthy and supportive life in recovery. This includes lifestyle changes, such as exercise and healthy hobbies. 

It also includes important relationships — people who can provide necessary support. This is often a combination of family members, treatment professionals, and friends (both old friends and new friends made in recovery). Peer support groups can be important in helping to build new bonds.

While Librium addiction can’t be cured, it can be successfully managed for life. With quality treatment and appropriate supportive measures in place, people can move forward from chlordiazepoxide abuse. 

Updated August 31, 2023
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