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Can You Taper Off from Librium Safely?

Librium (chlordiazepoxide) is a medication administered under a doctor’s prescription to people with anxiety disorders and individuals who are going through alcohol withdrawal.

The drug, a benzodiazepine, works by depressing the central nervous system (CNS). This action calms excessive activity in the brain that brings on anxiety, stress, fear, and other adverse emotions. Many people who use Librium feel relaxed after taking the medication.

Librium is believed to be the first benzodiazepine produced. Hoffmann-La Roche chemist Leo Sternbach identified it in 1955, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration did not approve it for medical use until 1960. 

Over the years, abuse of Librium and other benzodiazepines became widespread as recreational use grew. Use and abuse of these potent drugs have also been linked to overprescribing practices in the medical community

People abuse Librium for its sedative and intoxicating effects, which are similar to those of alcohol use. This is problematic for a few reasons. A person who has used Librium becomes dangerous when under its influence. If they are driving or operating machinery, they can harm themselves and others around them.

Benzodiazepines are intended only for short-term use. Such use lasts for no more than two weeks. This means that when it is used for periods longer than prescribed, or used in ways that are not in sync with its design, people are vulnerable to developing an addiction. This can happen rather quickly. 

Recreational users are especially at risk for addiction and other severe side effects, as they likely use more of the substance than they should. A dose of Librium can take more than a day to exit the body. VeryWell Mind reports that Librium’s long half-life can last from five hours to 30 hours. A person who chronically abuses it risks having it build up in their system to the point where they can overdose on it.

Routine use of Librium can lead to building a tolerance to it. Tolerance is expected, even in those who take the medication correctly and for the right reasons. However, it becomes problematic when a person becomes dependent on Librium and feels like they can’t go without it. Such feelings indicate that an addiction is developing. If you or someone you know can’t seem to leave Librium alone, no matter the effort, you are advised to seek help immediately.

If any of these occur with Librium use, addiction is likely the case:

  • Aggression
  • Memory loss
  • Appetite changes
  • Changes in sleeping habits
  • Withdrawal from everyday activities
  • Poor school, work performance 
  • Impaired cognitive ability

Other signs of Librium addiction include:

  • Misusing Librium (e.g., taking higher-than-prescribed doses)
  • Obtaining multiple Librium prescriptions via “doctor shopping”
  • Hiding or lying about Librium use
  • Obtaining Librium illegally (e.g., forging prescriptions)
  • Focusing solely on Librium use
  • Neglecting responsibilities or relationships
  • Rapid heart rate, tremors, or sweating when trying to stop using Librium

Eventually, people become addicted to this habit-forming drug, finding it hard to put it down. At that point, they likely will need to start a treatment program at a reputable facility to address their Librium use and addiction.

When Librium Withdrawal Happens

Recreational users who use Librium for some time are likely to see withdrawal symptoms emerge if they reduce their use or stop it altogether. If there is a noticeable difference when the drug is absent, that’s a sign the body has gotten used to the drug. Sudden removal of a drug can send the body into shock. As a result, withdrawal symptoms will make users ill and uncomfortable until the body can return to normal.

Several factors shape the Librium withdrawal timeline. Among them are a person’s age, medical history, metabolism, and body mass. Other factors include how long Librium has been used, how much is used, and if they have been using other drugs or alcohol with Librium. Withdrawal from the drug causes symptoms that are common with benzodiazepine withdrawal in general. Some are listed below.

Common physical withdrawal symptoms are:

  • Blurred vision
  • Sweating, chills
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Impaired motor coordination
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Seizures

Common psychological withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Hallucinations
  • Insomnia
  • Irritation

The effective and safe way to address Librium withdrawal symptoms is to taper off the drug slowly at a reputable facility that specializes in this area. This is an ideal approach for frequent or longtime Librium users. As listed above, seizures commonly happen during benzodiazepine withdrawal, and these can be fatal. Getting on a tapering schedule that’s monitored by a medical professional is the best way to go.

Tapering schedules for benzodiazepine use are designed with the individual’s needs in mind. It takes into account the drugs that have been used, how long those drugs linger in the body, and other information. In general, the withdrawal plan should allow recovering users to have enough time so they can slowly and gradually taper off the drug. 

A medical professional may recommend that dosages be reduced by 25 percent every two weeks. However, some people may be OK with having it reduced by 10 percent every week. Adjustments can be made to the schedule based on what withdrawal symptoms are present (or not present). Tapering plans also can include a therapy component to help users address the “why” behind their substance use disorder. It’s important to address the mental and emotional aspects of substance use in addition to the physical one.

At-Home Detox vs. Medical Detox

Tapering plans are part of medical detox, which are offered by accredited facilities that treat substance abuse and addiction. Medical detox is an essential part of recovery for people who are struggling with drug or alcohol dependence or addiction. It is the first step to removing the substance from the body safely and addressing severe withdrawal symptoms, such as seizures or hallucinations, and any other complications that can arise unexpectedly. 

Medical detox is just the beginning of a recovery program. Ending long-term drug use requires a commitment to entering a treatment program that is designed to keep one focused on abstaining from substance use so that they can live full-time in sobriety.

Many people will attempt to deal with drug withdrawal symptoms on their own. Doing so, however, comes with too many risks and can have unfavorable outcomes. Treatment for seizures and hallucinations should be administered by health care professionals. They would know what to do in case of an emergency.

Medical detox can be more effective than at-home detox for people who need an environment that encourages sobriety. Doing detox outside a medical facility could mean users will stay in the same setting that encouraged their substance use. This setting could include peers who also use, making it harder to quit. Those temptations and distractions are eliminated in a professional facility. 

There’s also the possibility of relapse, which is when a person returns to using addictive substances after not using them for some time. Drug withdrawal symptoms can be so taxing that users will go back to using the drug so that they can stop feeling sick. This on-again, off-again cycle puts users at risk of having an overdose. Going off a drug during the withdrawal period only to return to it later is dangerous because the user’s tolerance for the drug is lower. When this happens, the doses that the body had become used to can become fatal to someone who took a break from using.

Need Help With Ending Librium Use?

Ending substance addiction is not as simple as it might seem. It takes time to figure out what treatment should look like, what your needs are, how much time and resources you can devote to addressing your unique needs. If you or someone you know needs help with ending Librium use or any substance use, consider entering a reputable, accredited facility that can guide you to a substance-free life. Give us a call today to learn about treatment options that can help you reclaim your life and end your dependence on this powerful drug.

Sources

(September 28, 2013). The history of benzodiazepines. The Consultant Pharmacist: The Journal of the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24007886

Smith, Matt. “Doctors, Patients Struggle with Benzodiazepine Use.” WebMD, WebMD, 16 May 2019. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/news/20190516/doctors-patients-struggle-with-benzodiazepine-use

(December 2018). How Long Does Librium Stay in Your System? Verywell Mind. Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/how-long-does-librium-stay-in-your-system-80272

(June 2016). Chronic Benzodiazepine Pharmacotherapy: How Difficult to Discontinue? Medscape. Retrieved from https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/863906

(February 2016). Understanding Drug Abuse and Addiction: What Science Says. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/teaching-packets/understanding-drug-abuse-addiction/section-iii/7-medical-detoxification

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