Drugs that have the potential of treating anxiety and severe alcohol withdrawal can be literal lifesavers, but any substance that powerful has the potential to be abused. Librium is no exception, and the threat of Librium addiction is serious enough that doctors take it into consideration when preparing prescriptions for their patients.
Librium is the trade name of the drug chlordiazepoxide, which belongs to the class of drugs known as benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepines account for a number of drugs that are used as anti-anxiety medication, which is why they are a popular choice of drug for those going through acute alcohol withdrawal (as that process can induce a state of anxiety). Librium is also given to patients who are scared and fearful before surgery.
How Does Librium Affect the Mind?
Librium’s effectiveness (and risk) comes from chlordiazepoxide being a benzodiazepine. Benzodiazepines themselves work by improving the functioning of a certain neurotransmitter in the central nervous system known as the GABA neurotransmitter, which is responsible for controlling the how the nerves transmit information to and from the brain. Specifically, the GABA neurotransmitter is supposed to calm the activity of those transmissions, which in return balances mood, emotions, and resultant behavior.
There are some people who have a mental health condition whereby the GABA neurotransmitters do not work as effectively as they should; the result of this is that a person with a malfunctioning GABA neurotransmitter is unable to control their emotional responses to a situation.
This is one area where benzodiazepines come in. The drug increases the production of the GABA neurotransmitter, which helps a person with the emotional regulation of mood and behaviors by slowing down the activity between the central nervous system and brain. Before benzodiazepines, the person might have felt helpless against the unbidden and uncontrollable anxiety; benzodiazepines, like chlordiazepoxide (which was the first benzodiazepine to be synthesized), can induce feelings of tranquility and calm where such sensations once seemed impossible.
What Happens with the Body?
When consumed, Librium will affect different body systems. The American Family Physician journal writes that chlordiazepoxide is one of the most frequently used medications to treat people going through alcohol withdrawal, because of its “wide therapeutic window” and long half-life, which allows patients to wean themselves off the drug (with appropriate medical assistance). Librium “is an ideal drug for use in outpatient detoxification,” writes the journal.
The same mechanism of action that makes Librium useful in treating alcohol withdrawal – slowing down the nervous transmission in the brain’s electrical pathways – is what makes it a popular anti-anxiety drug, especially for administering to patients before surgery.
As with any drug, Librium causes side effects. Most of them are expected, but a doctor should be alerted if the effects are severe or long-lasting. These effects include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Blurred vision
In certain cases, Librium might interact badly with a person (if the person is taking other drugs at the same time, taking Librium improperly, or if there are pre-existing physical conditions). The effects on can then be more drastic, including:
- Slurred speech
- Difficulty walking
- Twitching and swelling in the muscles
- Difficulty urinating
Recognizing When Librium Use Has Become Dangerous
Benzodiazepines like Librium are among some of the most commonly prescribed drugs in America, because of their effectiveness and household-name status. For reasons like this, many people are drawn to benzodiazepines (like Librium), either because of how well the drugs work in treating anxiety or because they want to experience the feelings of calm and peace that come from the boosted production of GABA neurotransmitters.
Even when taken with a prescription, Librium is capable of inducing symptoms of physical and psychological dependence. The psychological effects of the drug can be a source of incredible temptation, especially for those who have difficulty regulating their moods and behaviors because of their anxiety. This tempts some people into taking Librium outside of the prescribed amounts or time limits; similarly, others might seek out Librium for recreational use
Someone with a Librium prescription, who is coming to depend too much on the drug, might forge the symptoms of anxiety to try and get a doctor to increase the prescription. That person might also forge an actual prescription to fool a pharmacist or try to get more pills from friends or family members, or even buy them (illegally) online. Any such activity is a sign that the Librium intake has gone off course, and the person needs professional help.
Despite the positive feelings that come from a dose of Librium, it is a powerful drug that should not be taken wantonly. Not allowing the brain and central nervous system to do their own work with the improved GABA neurotransmitter production and instead coming to depend on the Librium alone will cause significant and damaging changes (within a matter of weeks) in regard to how behavior and mood are processed. Examples of this include confusion and agitation when the effects of Librium wear off, a need to take more and more doses of Librium just to feel the standard effects, and adverse physical and psychological reactions when not on Librium, such as unpredictable mood swings.
Physical Effects of Librium Abuse
Physical effects of this unhealthy use can also include respiratory depression, which takes place when the sedative effects of benzodiazepines are magnified by overuse, to the point that the brain struggles to perform even basic and automatic functions, like breathing.
Terminating Librium use after this stage can be even more damaging, as the person’s physical and psychological systems have become hooked on the effects of the drug. It is imperative that the body and brain be given time and support (pharmaceutical and psychological) to readjust to the pre-Librium level of function and GABA neurotransmitter production. Treatment programs and ongoing rehabilitation are instrumental in helping clients to overcome their Librium dependence while minimizing damage and optimizing long-term recovery options.
Finding the Right Treatment for Librium Addiction
As with almost any form of substance abuse, the person abuses the drug of choice to unconsciously address some kind of emotional or psychological distress. For that reason, a treatment plan that has a counseling and therapeutic component is essential in successfully helping the person overcome the mental temptation to keep abusing Librium.
Choosing the right treatment plan and the right facility to offer that treatment entails conversations with a doctor, doing research on the logistics and courses offered by various facilities (such as inpatient treatment or outpatient treatment, payment plans, connections with aftercare support groups, etc.), and then working through the check-in process. Family members and friends may be advised to participate in certain elements of treatment, as well as adopt lifestyle changes (such as creating a stress-free environment at home), to ensure that the recovery principles imparted during treatment are allowed to take hold outside the walls of the treatment center.
Detox, Counseling, and Aftercare Support
Inpatient rehabilitation for Librium addiction usually lasts between one and three months, providing the most extensive level of care for clients. The first phase of treatment always entails medical detox, where the client is given a safe environment in which to taper off Librium dependence. Doctors and medical professionals are on standby to intervene (usually with other drugs) if the symptoms of this structured withdrawal become too distressing (or even dangerous).
When the client is ready, a counselor will begin therapeutic treatment to address the psychological or emotional issues that prompted the Librium abuse. Sessions are conducted individually, in a group setting, and with family and friends. Additional treatment courses may be offered, such as yoga, meditation, mindfulness, art therapy, or some other form of expression that encourages the formation of new habits, thought processes, and coping skills in recovery.
Aftercare support entails the client staying in touch with a support group made up of people who have all been through the process of addiction and recovery. These groups offer support, accountability, and solidarity. High-quality treatment centers will facilitate and encourage the client’s connection to an aftercare support group, such as Benzodiazepine Anonymous, which is based off the classic 12-Step model pioneered by Alcoholics Anonymous. Benzodiazepine Anonymous has its own version of the 12 Steps, which are more specific to the concerns and realities of a recovering Librium addict.
For a client whose Librium addiction was caught early on, the extensiveness of inpatient therapy may not be required. Instead, outpatient therapy requires regular weekly (perhaps even daily) check-ins at a treatment center to participate in counseling sessions, but the client is free to go home at the end of the day. The decision between inpatient or outpatient treatment will be made by the facility’s administration, the client’s doctor, and the client, and informed by the support of the family and their financial capabilities.
Treatment for Librium addiction will also address co-occurring disorders, such as ongoing anxiety. As a result, the client can still find the appropriate way to deal with chronic anxiety (with the support of friends and family) without turning to Librium.