This Page was last reviewed and changed on May 21st 2022
Librium is an effective drug for the treatment of anxiety and insomnia but taking it in higher than recommended doses can be dangerous and could result in a crippling addiction. It is important to be aware of the dangers of a Librium addiction and how it can affect not only your life but the lives of those around you.
Abuse of prescription drugs is a widespread problem in the UK, but when it comes to benzodiazepine drugs such as Librium, the potential for abuse is relatively high. Used primarily to treat conditions such as anxiety disorder, Librium has sedative effects. It is these effects that also make the medication suitable for treating insomnia. As you can probably imagine then, the sedative effects of Librium can be attractive for those looking for ways to get high. When taken in high enough doses, Librium can cause a physical and psychological dependence, so a high percentage of those who do abuse it end up struggling with addiction.
It must be noted though that it is not just those taking Librium for recreational purposes who are in danger of addiction. If you have been prescribed this medication to treat a genuine medical condition, it is important that it is taken only as prescribed and that you educate yourself about the potential for abuse.
What is Librium?
Librium is part of the benzodiazepine family of drugs, having a medium-to-long half-life. In a nutshell, this means that it stays in your system for quite a time. The half-life of a drug is the measurement of how long it takes for half of the concentration to leave your system.
Although longer-acting benzodiazepines are generally less potent than their shorter-acting counterparts, Librium still has the potential to become habit-forming. It is because of this that it is recommended for use for a period of no longer than four weeks.
How Does Librium Work?
Too many excitatory chemicals within the brain are thought to lead to conditions such as anxiety disorder; Librium works by dampening the effects of these chemicals. It does this by stimulating production of the brain’s inhibitory chemical GABA (gamma-amino-butyric acid).
By encouraging the brain to produce more GABA, conditions such as anxiety are relieved due to a balance of chemicals being maintained.
Librium Abuse Causes
There are many reasons people abuse Librium. Those who have been prescribed it to treat a genuine medical condition such as anxiety disorder often do not even realise they have progressed to prescription drug abuse. This is partly because they do not understand what prescription drug abuse actually is.
It is easy to understand how Librium abuse occurs however. For example, if you are taking it to relieve symptoms of anxiety but find after a while it becomes less effective, you might think that the best way to rectify this is to increase the dose. After all, surely a little bit more couldn’t hurt?
Taking higher doses of Librium can hurt – and it can hurt in more ways than one. Taking higher doses of the medication means increasing the risk for addiction as well as putting your health in danger. You could also be at risk of overdose.
You should also be aware that after a while, your brain and body will adapt once more, and the new higher dose of medication you are taking will also cease to be as effective as it was. When this happens, you might start combining Librium with other sedative substances such as opioid painkillers or alcohol, just to get the relief you require. Once again, however, this is classed as abuse and could potentially make your risk of overdose even higher.
After a traumatic experience, we are more prone to feeling the need for external stimuli. This is why therapists will help you handle the pain even better – without abusing medications.
Depressive disorders and anxiety episodes can be hard to handle on our own. This is why many turn to medications, but it is not the only option.
Science strongly leads toward genetic predisposition and brain chemistry as the two most important contributing factors to Librium abuse and addiction. However, more research needs to be done to determine why some people who use Librium have no trouble with it while others tend toward abuse.
It has to be said though that Librium abuse does not always occur unintentionally. There are those who deliberately abuse the drug. Some do it for recreational purposes, but others do so as a way to escape painful memories or a harsh reality.
Librium dependence can occur rapidly, and many people find that they struggle to function without it after just a few weeks of regular use. Dependence usually begins with an increased tolerance to the effects of the drug.
When you become tolerant to Librium, you will find that it is no longer providing the relief it once did. It might be the case, for example, that you are less calm than you were when you first started to take it, or alternatively it is not having the sedative effects and you are struggling to sleep as well as you were.
Naturally, you might find this frustrating and so might start looking for ways to rectify the situation. It could be that your solution may be to increase the amount you are taking. Doing so without consulting your doctor can be dangerous though, especially if you are already on the maximum recommended dose.
As well as all the above, be aware that physical and psychological dependence can occur when abusing Librium, intentionally or not. But it’s not just abuse of Librium that can lead to dependence. Prolonged use of this drug can cause your brain and body to completely adapt to its effects, actually reaching a stage of not being able to function normally without it.
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Short-Term Effects of Librium
Aside from the sedative effects of Librium, there are quite a few other short-term side effects that can occur when this medication is abused. These include:
low blood pressure
lack of coordination
Long-Term Effects of Librium
Taking Librium over an extended period is definitely not recommended due to the increased risk for dependence and addiction. Librium addiction can result in long-term consequences that can end up having a negative impact on many areas of your life.
If you develop an addiction to Librium, for example, you are likely to experience problems within your relationships as family members and friends struggle to understand your erratic behaviour. You could end up losing your job, your loved ones, your wealth, and your home if you do not get professional help.
significant cognitive impairment
lack of concentration
gradually increased tolerance
As well as the impact that addiction can have on your life, you should also consider the fact that long-term use of benzodiazepine drugs such as Librium can lead to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Chronic use of such medications could impair cognitive function and affect memory.
As a longer-acting benzodiazepine drug, Librium is often used as a substitute for other shorter-acting benzos. The reason for this is that it can help in the withdrawal process by binding to the GABA receptors for longer. In so doing, it helps to reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings, allowing the individual to withdraw safely from the other drug. Hence, the possible substitutions are:
Other benzodiazepines according to doctor’s prescription
The problem with Librium substitution therapy however is that, as you have probably gathered by now, it is also a highly addictive substance and there is the risk that the person being treated with Librium might simply swap one addiction for another. It is therefore necessary for continuous monitoring to take place to ensure that a Librium addiction does not develop.
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The Dangers of Librium
As noted, Librium can be a dangerous drug when abused, but it is particularly dangerous when used in elderly patients, who tend to experience the sedative effects for longer. This can leave them vulnerable to falls and accidents, which in and of themselves can cause serious injuries.
Librium is especially dangerous when combined with alcohol intake. The effects of both sedative substances are enhanced when they are mixed, which could possibly lead to overdose and potentially fatal consequences. When both substances are taken simultaneously, the central nervous system becomes depressed leading to extreme drowsiness, low blood pressure, breathing problems, and coma. Without treatment, it is obvious how this could become fatal.
In addition to the increased risk for overdose, mixing Librium with alcohol increases the risk of cirrhosis of the liver and kidney disease. It can also result in mental health problems such as memory loss and psychosis.
Once an addiction to Librium develops, you might begin exhibiting drug-seeking behaviour. If your doctor stops prescribing the medication, you may resort to desperate measures to get your hands on it. This could mean, for instance, that you start doctor shopping, a practice where you visit more than one doctor in the hope of getting your prescription refilled.
If you cannot get a doctor to prescribe Librium, you might start looking elsewhere. Many individuals try to source prescription drugs online, but this is not only inadvisable, but it is also highly dangerous. The pills sold online are not always genuine, so you could end up taking something that contains harmful ingredients.
The Cost of Librium Addiction
As you might imagine, addiction to Librium does not come without a cost. Although many people believe that it harms only the affected individual, the reality is completely different. While the most obvious impact is felt by the addict, others will also be affected.
Family members, friends and work colleagues will all be negatively affected by your addiction. As you suffer, and your behaviour becomes more erratic, those around you will also suffer. Your loved ones may become upset, angry, or frustrated at what may appear to them your lack of willpower.
But addiction is not about a lack of willpower or a consequence of bad behaviour, despite what many believe. It is not a lifestyle choice either. Those who struggle with addiction actually have little choice over their use of a particular substance. When it comes to Librium addiction, it is highly likely that you continue to use it because you are trapped in a cycle of abuse and withdrawal. Even if you want to quit, you will find it extremely hard to do so.
It is therefore necessary that you get help sooner rather than later. Without treatment, your addiction could end up costing you your friends, family members, job, and financial stability.
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Librium Brand and Street Names
Librium is a brand name for the generic drug Chlordiazepoxide. Below are some more brand and street names:
Management of Librium Misuse and Dependence
Librium misuse is unfortunately common due to the way in which a tolerance occurs. It is important that you act should you notice an increased tolerance to the effects. If you are not achieving the same relief from Librium that you did when you first began taking it, it is crucial that you do not increase the dose; unless, of course, advised to by your doctor.
If you have already noticed withdrawal symptoms whenever the effects of the medication wear off, it is likely that physical dependence has already developed. This means that you should probably consider coming off the drug.
Nevertheless, it is vital that you do not suddenly stop taking Librium by yourself or of your own volition. Sudden cessation of Librium can lead to serious medical complications. It is therefore recommended that any Librium misuse and dependence is managed with a gradual reduction instead.
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Librium and Other Substances
As mentioned already, the effects of Librium diminish with time, and it is for this reason that the medication is recommended for short-term use only. Nonetheless, there are those who will take Librium for recreational purposes and end up using it in conjunction with other sedative substances such as alcohol or opioids.
Mixing Librium with other substances is highly dangerous, substantially increasing the risk of overdose.
The potential for adverse effects rises significantly when Librium is mixed with alcohol.
It is common for those taking Librium for medicinal purposes to also mix it with painkillers to enhance the effects. This usually happens when they have become so used to the medication that they are not getting the desired relief.
Overdose becomes a risk when Librium is taken in high doses. If you have increased your dose of Librium without the advice of your doctor, you will be risking an overdose every time you use it. You should know that the effects of a Librium overdose can appear quite quickly, and without treatment your life will be in danger. It is important that you are aware of the signs of overdose so that should you experience any of the following after taking too much of your medication, you act immediately:
Bluish nails and lips
The symptoms of a Librium overdose are much more intense when combining the medication with alcohol or other drugs. Either way, it is vital that you seek help at once.
A Librium overdose almost always requires medical treatment. Fortunately, most people make a full recovery after being treated, particularly those who overdosed on Librium alone. However, combining Librium with other substances makes treatment exponentially more complicated as it can lead to the above-mentioned more intense symptoms.
Singer Amy Winehouse, who died in 2011, was said to have had Librium in her system at the time of her death. She had also been drinking heavily.
Co-Occurring Disorders of Librium Abuse
As Librium is typically prescribed for the treatment of anxiety disorders, it is common for addiction to co-exist with mental health problems. Substance abuse and mental health problems often go hand-in-hand and it can be difficult to tell where one begins and the other ends due to the similarity of symptoms associated with each.
It can also be hard to tell if one condition has been the catalyst for the other. In the case of Librium addiction, the medication may have been prescribed to treat an anxiety disorder that was already present before the addiction developed. In others though, particularly those take Librium for recreational purposes, symptoms such as anxiety can be the result of drug abuse.
antisocial personality disorder.
It is not uncommon for those with mental health problems to seek relief in mood-altering substances such as Librium. It is for this reason that both substance abuse and mental health problems often co-occur.
Treatment for co-occurring disorders is complex as both conditions must be dealt with simultaneously. But establishing which symptoms are caused by which disorder is difficult. This is the reason treatment should take place in a facility that specialises in dual diagnosis (addiction coupled with mental health disorder) treatment.
Librium Abuse Treatment Self-Care at Home
Self-care at home might be possible in the case of Librium abuse (before a full-blown addiction has developed). In this case, it will be necessary to quit Librium gradually. Before attempting to stop taking the medication, or even reducing it, it is absolutely vital to seek medical advice.
Librium withdrawal can be dangerous and there is the risk of life-threatening symptoms, so it must be managed effectively. Talk to your doctor about the best way of tapering the medication.
You will need to check in with your doctor regularly so that he or she can monitor your progress and assess your mental and physical wellbeing. Moreover, should you experience any withdrawal symptoms that are making you feel very unwell, it is important that you contact the doctor as soon as possible. It may be the case that your reduction schedule has to be adjusted.
When to Seek Medical Care
It can be hard to break free from Librium when your brain and body have learned to depend on it for normal functioning. If you are trying to quit the medication but are suffering unpleasant withdrawal symptoms every time the effects of Librium wear off, it is time to seek out medical care.
The safest way to withdraw from a benzodiazepine drug such as Librium is under the supervision of a medical professional. This might be in a detox centre or at home with regular consultations with your doctor.
Medical care will also be necessary if you notice the signs of an overdose after taking too much Librium or mixing it with another substance. If you feel extremely drowsy, are having trouble speaking, or are confused, you will need to get medical attention right away. The earlier you get help, the less chance there is of serious medical complications.
Librium Addiction and Possible Treatments
Librium addiction is like any other addiction in that you are likely to need professional help to get your life back in order. Treatment is available from various sources including the NHS, local support groups, charities, and private clinics. How and where you access help for addiction is a matter of personal preferences, individual circumstances, the severity of your illness, and your budget.
While quitting Librium is essential in terms of helping you to recover, it is important that you also deal with the emotional issues relating to your illness. Addiction recovery involves a detox to tackle the physical element of the illness and rehabilitation to deal with the psychological.
You will have the choice of having treatment on a daycare or inpatient basis. Regardless of the type of programme you choose though, you can expect to be treated with a combination of therapies. It is likely that your rehab provider will use a combination of talking therapies, behaviour modification, and holistic treatments to help you overcome your illness. These treatments usually take place within individual or group therapy sessions.
Inpatient programmes are provided by private clinics for the most part, and many of these will offer both detox and rehabilitation programmes. This means that you can have continuity of care and there will be less chance of becoming waylaid in between the two.
Rehab for Librium addiction is designed to help you learn more about your illness and why you became addicted. You will benefit from a comprehensive programme that will help you to not only break free from Librium but also learn how to live without it going forward.
Most rehab providers use bespoke treatment plans for patients as this is the best way to deal with your individual situation. With so many different therapies and holistic treatments to choose from, counsellors can create personalised programmes for every single patient. Indeed, it is likely that no two patients will be treated in the same way; even if they are both being treated for the same condition.
The reason for this is that research has repeatedly shown that treating every addict in the same way is ineffective. Over years of studies and research, it has been proven time and again that bespoke treatment is the best way to help patients achieve success. You can therefore expect your treatment programme to be tailored to you. This makes it impossible to tell which treatments will be used, but you can expect your programme to include elements of:
group counselling sessions
dialectical behaviour therapy
cognitive behavioural therapy
motivational enhancement therapy
acceptance and commitment therapy
animal assisted therapy
Detox is usually the first part of the recovery process for any addiction where physical dependence exists. It is necessary to break the bond between the user and the substance, but when it comes to Librium detox, things can be a little bit more complicated.
Due to the risk of severe withdrawal symptoms when Librium is stopped suddenly, it is typically recommended that a gradual reduction takes place instead of a sudden cessation.
In a detox facility, it is likely that you will receive a tapered dose of Librium over the course of a couple of weeks until full discontinuation has been achieved. You may experience a variety of withdrawal symptoms during this time, but you can rest assured that your comfort and safety will be paramount.
Measures will be put in place to ensure that you are at virtually no risk while your progress will be monitored throughout. If necessary, medication will be prescribed to minimise the impact of any withdrawal symptoms that you experience. It may even be possible for many symptoms to be prevented if the detox is managed effectively.
What about Withdrawal?
Withdrawal from benzodiazepine drugs such as Librium is associated with the risk of severe withdrawal symptoms as mentioned above. While most of the symptoms that are experienced will cause nothing more than a feeling of being unwell, some can be life-threatening, especially if not managed correctly.
It is important then that Librium is withdrawn gradually and under the supervision of a medical professional. For your information, some of the symptoms associated with Librium withdrawal are:
irregular breathing or respiratory distress.
Fortunately, most of the worst symptoms can be prevented with an effectively managed detox programme.
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Do You Need to go onto Rehab?
While you can withdraw from Librium at home on the advice of a doctor, this should only be considered if you are not addicted to your medication. Once addiction has developed, it is highly recommended to detox from Librium in a dedicated facility, after which, a programme of rehabilitation will be necessary.
It is important to remember that detox deals only with the physical element of addiction. It is used to help you break free from substance abuse, but it will not tackle the underlying cause of the illness. To ensure that you do not suffer a return to addictive behaviour at a later date, it will be necessary for you to deal with the emotional and psychological side of your illness in a more comprehensive manner. The best way to do this is with a programme of rehabilitation.
Librium Addiction Statistics
Studies show that, despite recommendations for short-term use, a quarter-of-a-million people in the UK are prescribed benzodiazepines such as Librium for longer than a year.
It is estimated that around 119,000 of those using benzos long term would be interested in accessing support to come off them.
Between 2008 and 2012, prescriptions for benzodiazepine anxiolytics such as Librium have increased slightly.
In a study published by the British Journal of Psychiatry, 7.7 per cent of respondents admitted to misusing benzodiazepines. Around 15% of those said they used them at least once per week.
Reasons for misusing benzos included to help them sleep, to cope with stress, and to get high.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Librium addictive?
Librium is a habit-forming drug with a high potential for abuse. Taking it for recreational purposes or taking it in higher than the recommended dose can lead to an increased tolerance. This means that you will need to take more of it to achieve the desired effects. Doing this can then lead to physical dependence followed by addiction.
How is Librium addiction treated?
Librium addiction is typically treated through a combination of detox and rehabilitation. Detox is designed to help you break free from Librium and once you have a clear mind and body, you can follow up with a programme of rehabilitation that will deal with the emotional issues of the illness in more depth. Once you have completed both detox and rehabilitation, you will need to continue with aftercare, which will help with continued maintenance of your sobriety.
How bad is Librium addiction?
Like all other substance addictions, Librium addiction can have devastating consequences for you and your family members. Unless you learn how to overcome this illness, it can destroy your life.
If you allow your addiction to spiral out of control, it will take over every aspect of your life and could have a negative impact on your health, your relationships, your finances, and your hopes for the future.
How to cure Librium addiction?
Addiction is not a curable illness, but it can be effectively managed and maintained so that you avoid a return to addictive behaviour in the future. To fully recover from addiction, you will need to commit to a programme of detox and rehabilitation and follow up with ongoing aftercare.
Where else can I find help?
While you can call us here at UKAT for information and advice on how to overcome Librium addiction, you can also seek help elsewhere. Your doctor can provide information on NHS-run programmes that are available within your community, while you can access online information databases to get further information about the various options available to you. This will include information about local support groups and charities that offer care and support for all types of addiction.
How does Librium addiction start?
Librium addiction begins with exposure to the medication. While it is generally considered safe when taken in therapeutic doses over a short period, taking higher doses or for longer than four weeks can lead to a physical dependence, which is usually the precursor for addiction.
Who gets addicted to Librium?
Librium addiction is not reserved for a particular type of person, despite what you might have heard. It is not an illness that affects only those from a particular background or those of a certain age. The reality is that anyone who uses Librium, whether for medicinal or non-medicinal purposes, can allow their use to spiral out of control. When this happens, the risk of addiction increases dramatically.
What should I do about Librium addiction?
If you believe that you have a Librium addiction, it is important that you seek help as soon as possible. Addiction will not go away if you ignore it, and the sooner you act, the sooner you can get better.
Talk to your doctor for advice about how and where to access help for addiction; alternatively, call us here at UKAT for information on our programmes.
How to help someone who is addicted to Librium?
If someone you care about is addicted to Librium, it is advisable to tackle the issue head-on rather than hoping it will go away. If you do not raise the issue with this person, he or she is likely to continue with the addictive behaviour and the illness will spiral further out of control.
If you have tried to get him or her to seek help for addiction but have been met with denial, speak to one of our advisors about setting up an intervention. A family intervention is often used as a last resort to get a person into treatment. This is a process whereby a group of individuals close to the addict meetup to explain how they have been affected by the illness. It is a chance to show love and support to the addict. The good news is that most interventions end in success.
Is Librium addictive in low doses?
The recommended dose of Librium will be advised by your doctor who will determine this based on the condition being treated, your age, and your general health. Taking more than the recommended dose can increase your risk of addiction.
You might think that taking a lower dose will prevent you from developing an addiction but doing this may mean you are not getting the relief you need. If you are not getting the desired effect from your medication, you may be tempted to increase the dose beyond that recommended by a doctor, thus increasing your risk of addiction.
How can I spot Librium dependence?
If you have developed a dependence on Librium, you are likely to experience withdrawal symptoms when the effects of the drug wear off or if you try to quit. These symptoms might make you feel unwell. If they subside when you take more of the drug, you probably already have a physical dependence. If this is the case, you will be unable to function normally without your medication. It is easy, then, to get caught in a cycle of abuse.