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How to Treat Addiction & Abuse with Chlordiazepoxide
This Page was last reviewed and changed on December 16th, 2021
Chlordiazepoxide is one of a number of drugs that treatment providers may use to help substance abusers and addicts get well. The drug doesn’t act as a sole treatment by itself. Rather, it is used in conjunction with other medications and therapeutic treatments to form a complete compendium of care.
When the drug is prescribed, it is mainly to help ease the symptoms of withdrawal. Due to its nature as a sedative, chlordiazepoxide can relieve anxiety, help the patient to relax, and even prevent seizures. It is only available through a doctor’s prescription.
What Addictions is Chlordiazepoxide Used to Treat?
Whether a person is withdrawing from alcohol or another psychoactive drug, withdrawal symptoms are often an uncomfortable part of treatment. The withdrawal symptoms for some drugs are considered minor, but there are major and potentially life-threatening symptoms that come with other drugs. Treatment providers use prescription medications to alleviate the symptoms as much as possible.
Drugs like chlordiazepoxide make alcohol withdrawal easier to tolerate by taking the edge off symptoms. This is believed to facilitate a faster and more complete detox as patients do not struggle as much during the process. Yet even after alcohol rehab is complete, prescription medications may still be used to prevent cravings and avoid relapse.
How to Choose the Right Medication
For treatment providers, the key is choosing the right medication for the individual patient. Keep in mind that patients undergoing treatment may be suffering from a variety of different things. There is alcoholism, heroin and cocaine addiction, and even co-occurring conditions sometimes known as dual diagnoses.
Medications are chosen based on a comprehensive physical and psychological evaluation of each patient. Doctors prescribe the medications that they believe will work the best on a case-by-case basis. Those prescriptions may be modified throughout a person’s course of treatment as well. The point to understand here is that choosing medications must be done with the individual in mind. There is no single medication and/or dose considered suitable for every patient.
What Is Chlordiazepoxide?
Chlordiazepoxide is a benzodiazepine and, as such, a sedative as well. It is commonly used to treat mental disorders including anxiety and panic attacks. It is sometimes prescribed to treat irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and insomnia as well. It might also be used as a muscle relaxant in some cases.
Brand Names for Chlordiazepoxide
Chlordiazepoxide is the generic name for this drug. It is sold worldwide under a number of different brand names:
History of Chlordiazepoxide
As late as the 1950s, barbiturates were the medication of choice for treating conditions for which sedation was deemed appropriate. Researchers began looking at alternatives in the mid-1950s, eventually creating a class of drugs known as benzodiazepines. Chlordiazepoxide was the very first in this class of drugs.
Three years after being first synthesised, chlordiazepoxide was released commercially as the branded drug Librium. By 1959 it was being prescribed by more than 2,000 doctors to a total patient volume in excess of 20,000 people. The drug gave rise to a new medication, diazepam (Valium), which was seen as a simplified version of chlordiazepoxide. Since then, chlordiazepoxide and most of the other drugs in the benzodiazepine class have become recreational drugs.
Is Chlordiazepoxide Addictive?
Unfortunately, chlordiazepoxide is highly addictive. Like all benzodiazepines, it only takes a few weeks for some people to begin showing signs of tolerance. For this reason, treatment providers recommend not prescribing the medication to recovering addicts for more than six weeks.
A person addicted to chlordiazepoxide has to undergo professional treatment, just like the alcoholic. This is why doctors are very careful about using the drug during detox.
What is the Mechanism of Action?
The active mechanism of chlordiazepoxide is its ability to impact certain receptors in the brain known as GABA receptors. The drug encourages the release of the GABA neurotransmitter that induces feelings of calm and relaxation. It is a neurotransmitter that helps to balance brain activity as well as being partially responsible for inducing both relaxation and sleep.
Patients taking chlordiazepoxide during drug abuse or addiction treatment run the risk of dependence if their brains can no longer produce enough GABA without help of the drug. That mechanism of action triggers the brain into thinking it needs chlordiazepoxide to function properly.
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How Long Does It Take for Chlordiazepoxide to Work?
Like most other benzodiazepines, the effects of chlordiazepoxide can usually be felt within 30 to 60 minutes of administering. The effects do not last as long as some other benzos, though. Most users can expect only 5 to 6 hours.
What Are the Side Effects of Chlordiazepoxide?
Routine side effects can range in severity. They include sleepiness, muscle weakness, light-headedness, dizziness, confusion, temporary memory loss, and feelings of aggression. More serious side effects, although not as common, are possible: headache, vertigo, visual disturbances, diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting, and low blood pressure.
Facts Statistics on chlordiazepoxide
Addiction to chlordiazepoxide and other benzodiazepines is a significant problem in the UK. The following information bears this out:
An estimated 1.5 million people in England were suffering from some level of benzodiazepine addiction in 2007.
More than 370 deaths related to benzodiazepines were reported in 2014. Diazepam (read Valium) was connected to a reported 258 of them.
In 2016, study suggested that there were up to a quarter-of-a-million people who were taking benzodiazepines long-term, many having been on them for years.