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How Long Will Librium Show Up on a Drug Test?

Many drugs, whether legal or illegal, can show up on a drug test. This reality raises concern among people who take prescription medications, including those who use the benzodiazepine drug Librium, the trade name for chlordiazepoxide.

Librium, a sedative-hypnotic used to treat anxiety and insomnia disorders and acute alcohol withdrawal, is suited for short-term use and should be taken as prescribed by a doctor. The drug slows down the central nervous system. During this time, it enhances the effects of gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter in the brain, and helps patients control their anxiety as well and other moods and behaviors that their stress may affect.

Understanding the Half-Life of a Drug

How long Librium stays in one’s system depends on several factors, including the drug’s half-life. “Half-life” is the amount of time it takes for a dose of the drug to be reduced by half in the blood plasma while it is still active in the body. Each half-life that passes reduces the amount of Librium in the system. 

Librium, while used for short-term treatment, has a long elimination half-life after it is ingested. The standard half-life of Librium is five to 30 hours, which means one can expect half of the original Librium dose to pass through the body within this time frame. 

For example, if a person takes 100 mg (milligrams) of a drug that has a 20-minute half-life, it will take 20 minutes for the body to process 50 mg of the drug. After 40 minutes, only 25 mg of the 100-mg medication would remain. After 60 minutes, only 12.5 mg of the original dose would be left. In all, it would take 140 minutes, or a little more than two hours for the drug to exit from the body.

This window of time can be shaped by other factors that are unique to the patient as well as the drug taken. This can make the difference between whether a drug can go undetected by a drug test or not. These factors include:

  • Presence of other drugs in the body
  • The dosage of the drug taken
  • How long the drug has been taken
  • Age, body mass index
  • Genetics
  • Overall medical history
  • Health of vital organs (liver, kidneys)

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Liver health is also important as it is mainly responsible for aiding the body in processing Librium from the system. If it is not healthy, then it will struggle to excrete Librium. Drug elimination also becomes a slower process as the liver ages, so this is one key reason why liver health is essential.

The potency of the dose taken should be considered when trying to determine how long Librium will show up on a drug test. Stronger concentrations of medications take time to process. The body needs more time to metabolize doses that last a long time as well. If the body isn’t given enough time, then the chances of a drug test detecting it are higher.

In many cases, the full concentration of Librium is needed for patients to experience its therapeutic benefits. Weaker Librium doses, however, are likely could clear one’s system faster.

Librium pills  in a pile against a green background

The Kind of Drug Test Taken Matters

Timing is a key factor when weighing whether a test can detect a drug. People who are screened shortly after using Librium could return a positive result for Librium use. However, some tests can detect Librium long after concentrations of the substance have been reduced in the body. The kind of test used matters for that reason.

According to VeryWellMind, a blood test can generally find Librium within a six-hour to 48-hour window after the last dose. A saliva test can detect it up to 10 days after the last use. A urine test, which is more commonly used than a blood or saliva test, can show traces of Librium one week to six weeks after the last dose. 

A hair follicle test has a wider window of detection. It can pick up traces of Librium use for up to 90 days (three months). This kind of test can pick up on drug use even if the hair is washed, dyed, cut, or styled differently.

What to Consider Before the Drug Test

Some people who want to speed up Librium elimination drink a lot of water to help flush it out of their bodies. Large amounts of water can encourage urination and help the kidneys work to remove it. Some people also exercise to boost their metabolism, which can help break down the drug faster so that it can be removed quickly. 

However, both of these methods aren’t foolproof, and they could adversely affect you if Librium exits the body too quickly, which has consequences, such as uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.

Librium’s long half-life can make it challenging to handle. But in addition to that long half-life, users also will have to manage the drug’s active metabolites that each have their own metabolites that can last longer than Librium itself. It can take several months for these metabolites to clear the body on their own. The same factors that can affect a drug’s half-life can also affect this process.

If you want to end or cut back on Librium use, consult with a physician who can help you start a tapering process that gradually reduces your dosage. This approach allows you to stop your use safely. Tapering can help you avoid withdrawal symptoms and relapse. If possible, you may want to start this process before taking a drug test.

Some employers who screen job applicants for drug use may not hire them upon evidence of benzodiazepine consumption, even if the medication is taken for legitimate reasons. Likewise, they also may fire an employee whose drug screen turns up positive for benzo use. 

For this reason, it may be helpful to alert prospective employers about any prescription medications before you take a drug test.


(August 2018). What Is the Half-Life of a Drug? News Medical. Retrieved from

(October 2004). Pharmacokinetics in Obese Patients. Continuing Education in Anaesthesia Critical Care & Pain. Retrieved from

(August 2016). Liver Function Declines With Increased Age. HPB. Retrieved from

Benzodiazepines (Urine). University of Rochester Medical Center. Retrieved from

(December 2018). How Long Does Librium Stay in Your System? Verywell Mind. Retrieved from

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