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Librium Withdrawal | Timeline, Symptoms, Detox

Similar to Valium, Librium (generic name chlordiazepoxide) is a prescription drug known as a benzodiazepine that is sometimes prescribed to treat anxiety disorders and alcohol withdrawal. This hypnotic sedative acts on the central nervous system (CNS) to create feelings of calm and relaxation. 

Benzodiazepines (or benzos), including Librium, have become more widely prescribed in recent years, and also a more common cause of overdose, particularly in combination with opioids. In fact, more than 10 percent of American households have a prescription for Librium. If the drug is abused, Librium withdrawal symptoms can be strong and unpleasant, and even dangerous. Learn more below about how to get professional treatment for Librium addiction. 

A Brief History of Librium

The clinical introduction of Librium came nearly a half a century ago, and was considered as a significant breakthrough is psychopharmacology. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, Librium helped opened the door for the benzodiazepine saga, the pharmacological family par excellence in the treatment of anxiety disorders. 

Librium, which was initially called methaminodiazepoxide, was patented in 1958. The drug was later introduced to clinical therapy in 1960 under its brand name, Librium.

At this point, benzodiazepines became the most prescribed drugs worldwide, and they provided effective treatment for minor forms of mental disorders for the first time. The advancement in modern medicine at the time enabled the development of new etiopathogenic theories for anxiety disorders, especially after 1977, when they discovered a high-affinity receptor complex.

Librium and Alcohol Withdrawal

Alcohol withdrawal is among one of the most deadly of all substances. Librium is a commonly used medication during alcohol withdrawal because it allows the client to relax and deal with some of the emotional side effects that may occur. In addition to its anxiolytic effects, it is a muscle relaxant, which helps prevent some of the alcohol detox symptoms.

When Librium is used for anxiety, it’s common to take one to three tablets a day. But during alcohol withdrawal under the supervision of medical professionals, they can prescribe up to four a day. 

Once the worst of the symptoms have dissipated, the client is then put on a tapering schedule due to the dangers benzodiazepines present during withdrawal.

What Are Librium Withdrawal Symptoms?

Like other benzodiazepines such as Valium, withdrawing from Librium can be extremely uncomfortable and difficult. 

Librium withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • Dysphoria
  • Insomnia
  • Convulsions
  • Tremor
  • Abdominal and muscle cramps
  • Vomiting
  • Sweating

What Are the Stages of the Librium Withdrawal Timeline?

Just like the withdrawal process for other benzos, Librium withdrawal symptoms fall roughly into three groups or stages. Some symptoms continue throughout the withdrawal process.

These ongoing symptoms are:

  • Rebound anxiety
  • Reduced appetite
  • Rebound Insomnia
  • Muscle spasms
  • Tremor

The next stage of Librium withdrawal symptoms will usually start within the first 10 days of last using the drug.

These symptoms may include:

  • Cognitive disturbances
  • Hallucinations
  • High blood pressure
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Seizures
  • Delirium tremens

The third or last group of symptoms develop within the third and fourth weeks of Librium withdrawal.

These symptoms include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Feeling “pins and needles”
  • Light and sound sensitivity

What Is Delirium Tremens?

Many signs of benzodiazepine withdrawal are similar to alcohol withdrawal. The withdrawal symptoms from Librium can result in seizures, shakiness, muscle pain, and vomiting, but abuse can lead to more significant problems, such as delirium tremens (DTs). 

Delirium tremens is an emergency medical condition that may occur in a small number of individuals who abuse Librium for extended periods. Confusion, fast heartbeat, and high blood pressure are common. Delirium tremens can be deadly and must be treated immediately.

Why Should I Detox?

Once you’ve decided you’re ready to quit using Librium, you may think it’s a good idea just to go “cold turkey.” However, quitting cold turkey can actually be very uncomfortable and even dangerous. It can also be hard to stick it out alone because the withdrawal symptoms are so difficult. Because of this, it’s best to find a reputable addiction treatment program and go through a monitored medical detox program. This way, you will be in a safe environment under clinical management. A professional detox program helps to set you up for a successful recovery.

Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS)

A common occurrence in those abusing benzos is something called Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS). It is considered a set of impairments that can last for weeks, months, and in severe cases, years after someone abstains from a substance of abuse. 

The condition is marked by symptoms that can be found in common mood disorders, such as anxiety, mood swings, insomnia, and increased levels of stress without an apparent stimulus.

According to The Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, an estimated 75 percent of benzo users will experience PAWS. The reason behind why this occurs is still yet to be determined by scientists, but they believe physical changes to the brain that occur as a result of substance abuse are responsible for these recurring symptoms. 

For this reason, it can make a user feel like they must continue abusing their drug of choice to feel normal. Even once someone has completed detox, they must move into the next level in the continuum of care. The additional time spent in a treatment center can help the person learn to live with these symptoms as their body works to heal itself from drug abuse.

What Is the Next Treatment Step?

There are different kinds and varying levels of intensity of addiction treatment available. Ultimately, the path that is most likely to prepare you for success is to follow a full continuum of treatment. This means that you begin your treatment in a medical detox program and then go through progressively less intense stages as you work your way to becoming an alum of the program. Stages of full continuum care include:

Detox

When you enter the first stage of treatment known as detox, your first goal is medical stabilization. You will receive a complete medical assessment when you arrive at the treatment center. This assessment will determine your level of addiction, plus any additional medical needs you may have. It will include a medical exam as well as urine or blood tests to screen for drugs. 

In addition to this initial assessment, your doctor may also require additional testing. These other tests may include more blood tests, including a CBC (complete blood count), chest X-ray, ECG (electrocardiogram), and testing for other diseases.

Once your doctor has reviewed all of your test results, he or she will create your detox plan. 

Next, you will officially start the detox process under the clinical care of your medical team. This team will include doctors, nurses, and support staff. Other drugs may be administered to you as part of your medical treatment. These drugs are used to help manage the physical symptoms of Librium withdrawal.

A lot of people also experience anxiety, depression, and other emotional and psychological challenges when they go through detox. Because of this, emotional support is also a key component of addiction therapy. 

Partial Hospitalization

Depending on your level of addiction and any other co-occurring medical or psychological conditions you may have, your doctor may recommend that you continue with inpatient treatment after you have completed detox. Most likely, you will move on to the next stage, which is to continue treatment in a partial hospitalization program (PHP). 

During the PHP stage, you’ll live at a transitional living facility while participating in a supportive and structured treatment program. These treatment sessions are scheduled five days a week for six hours each day. The program includes a combination of individual, group, and family therapy programs to address your emotional and mental health needs. 

At this stage, your goal will be to learn positive life skills. You will work on learning coping mechanisms and techniques to help you prevent relapse. Learning these skills will help you be better prepared for long-term recovery as you begin returning to your life outside the treatment center.  

Intensive Outpatient

The full continuum of treatment helps you slowly transition back to your life outside the rehab facility while you build the skills and resources you need to cope and avoid relapsing. Once you have completed the PHP stage, you will begin the intensive outpatient program (IOP) stage. 

The IOP stage is sometimes used as a stand-alone addiction treatment option. But it is a vital part of the full continuum of treatment. 

At this stage, the program will be more flexible, and your therapy sessions won’t be scheduled as often. The intensive therapy sessions will still be part of the program. If needed, you will continue with medication management. 

During IOP treatment, you will continue to be accountable for your recovery. Plus, it will also include periodic weekly drug testing. The main focus is to help you to continue building life skills and prevent relapse. 

Alumni

You will have the opportunity to attend weekly support groups and social events with other treatment center alumni after you have completed the treatment program. These opportunities to meet other graduates of the treatment program can help you develop new friendships with others who understand what it means to be in recovery. 

Your new support network can be a key resource as you grow and continue adjusting to life after completing the treatment program.  

Sources

Cunha, John P. (2018, October 10) Librium. Retrieved from https://www.rxlist.com

Jaffe, Adi (2010, January 13) Alcohol, Benzos, and Opiates — Withdrawal That Might Kill You. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com

Mellor, C.S. and Jain, V.K. (1982, December 1) Diazepam Withdrawal Syndrome: Its Prolonged and Changing Nature. In Canadian Medical Association Journal. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

López-Muñoz, F., Alamo, C., & García-García, P. (2011, May). The discovery of chlordiazepoxide and the clinical introduction of benzodiazepines: Half a century of anxiolytic drugs. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21315551

Sachdeva, A., Choudhary, M., & Chandra, M. (2015, September). Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome: Benzodiazepines and Beyond. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4606320/

Rahman, A. (2018, November 18). Delirium Tremens (DT). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482134/

Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS). (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.semel.ucla.edu/dual-diagnosis-program/News_and_Resources/PAWS

Treatment, C. F. (1970, January 01). Chapter 3. Intensive Outpatient Treatment and the Continuum of Care. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64088/

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