Librium, previously the brand name for the benzodiazepine chlordiazepoxide, carries a risk of abuse and dependence despite having legitimate medical uses.

Librium is a discontinued brand name for the benzodiazepine chlordiazepoxide. Although the brand name has been discontinued, the generic form of chlordiazepoxide is still available. For this reason, any drug labeled Librium that you come across is likely to be either long-expired or counterfeit.

Like most other benzodiazepines, or benzos, chlordiazepoxide is a potentially habit-forming, addictive drug. Even people who are prescribed the drug for legitimate medical purposes can develop a substance use disorder if they use more of the drug than recommended or if they take it for an extended period of time.

While addiction is a real risk for both medical and recreational consumers, the good news is that help is available.

Article at a Glance:

  • Librium was the brand name for the benzodiazepine chlordiazepoxide. Although the brand name has been discontinued, the drug is still available as a generic drug.
  • As a Schedule IV controlled substance, chlordiazepoxide has a risk of abuse and dependence.
  • Suddenly stopping chlordiazepoxide can cause withdrawal syndrome, which may be severe in some cases and cause seizures.
  • A medically-supervised detox and rehab program is the safest way to stop taking chlordiazepoxide.

What Was Librium?

Librium was the brand name for chlordiazepoxide, which is still sold as a generic drug and is a member of the benzodiazepine drug class.

Chlordiazepoxide works in the body as a central nervous system depressant. It enhances a neurotransmitter in the brain called gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA. This neurotransmitter has a naturally calming effect on the nerves and suppresses activity in the brain. GABA also plays a role in calming anxiety, inducing sleepiness and relaxing the muscles.

Medical Use

Chlordiazepoxide is FDA-approved for treating severe anxiety and alcohol withdrawal syndrome. However, because it is a Schedule IV controlled substance, it carries a risk of abuse and dependence.

Recreational Use

Since they were introduced in the 1960s, benzos have been commonly abused as recreational drugs. When they are taken in high doses, benzos can bring about a euphoric experience that is similar to alcohol intoxication. Further, people often combine benzos with other substances to get high.

Librium Dependence & Abuse

While chlordiazepoxide has valid medical uses, people who take it over a long period of time or in higher doses than medically recommended may develop a dependence on the drug.

Once this level of dependence is present, those struggling with benzo addiction may experience intense withdrawal symptoms after discontinuing useincluding depressed mood, trouble sleeping, tremor, abdominal and muscle cramps, vomiting, sweating and seizures.

If you meet any of the following criteria, you may be struggling with substance use disorder:

  • Requiring larger amounts of chlordiazepoxide to achieve the same effect
  • Continuing to take chlordiazepoxide even though it is having harmful effects on you
  • Feeling strong cravings or urges to use chlordiazepoxide
  • Failing to keep up with personal or professional obligations because of taking chlordiazepoxide
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms after cutting down or stopping chlordiazepoxide
  • Forfeiting activities you once enjoyed to use chlordiazepoxide

Statistics for Librium Abuse

Overall, about 2.1% of American adults have misused a benzo at some point in their lives. Among people who are prescribed benzos, that number increases to 17.1%.

Misusing benzos can increase the risk of overdose and death. As of 2016, 4.4 out of every 100,000 adults died of an overdose involving a benzo. Many overdose deaths linked to benzodiazepines also involve other drugs like opioids: more than 30% of opioid overdoses involve a benzo.

Librium Drug Combinations

In many cases, benzos like chlordiazepoxide are taken in combination with a variety of other substances. This is known as polydrug use. While it’s difficult to determine exactly how many people dependent on benzos engage in polydrug use, experts have found that the vast majority of benzo overdoses involve other substances like opioids. Combining benzos and opioids is so dangerous that the FDA issued a Black Box Warning to caution against taking them together.

Consuming alcohol after taking chlordiazepoxide is known to produce intensified sedation. Opioids are mixed with chlordiazepoxide for similar reasons — because both produce relaxing, euphoric effects, they intensify each other when taken together. Cocaine and chlordiazepoxide are often used together for the opposite reason — as a stimulant, cocaine can raise energy levels artificially.

While the effects of polydrug use may be pleasurable in the short-term, they dramatically increase the risk of addiction and negative side effects, including blackouts and extreme sedation. Polydrug use also raises the chances of an overdose, which can be fatal. Because of this, chlordiazepoxide should not be mixed with other substances.

Librium Abuse Symptoms

Chlordiazepoxide can be safe and even medically beneficial when used as directed by a medical professional. But when it is abused, it can cause a broad range of physical and psychological side effects in both the short and long term.

Physical and Psychological Side Effects of Librium

The physical side effects of chlordiazepoxide may include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Problems walking
  • Passing out
  • Rash
  • Swelling
  • Menstrual irregularities
  • Nausea
  • Constipation

The psychological side effects of chlordiazepoxide use include confusion and changes in libido.

Short-Term Effects of Librium Addiction

Because chlordiazepoxide is a CNS depressant, it slows down the activity of the brain. This causes a number of short-term effects, including:

  • A sense of calm or euphoria
  • Vivid or troubling dreams
  • Amnesia
  • Hostility
  • Irritability

Overdose can occur and may be fatal. Signs of overdose include shallow breathing, clammy skin, wide pupils, weak and rapid pulse and unresponsiveness. If you suspect a chlordiazepoxide overdose you should seek emergency medical attention. The common opioid overdose reversal drug Narcan, the brand name for naloxone, will not work for a benzo overdose.

Long-Term Effects of Librium Addiction

Chlordiazepoxide is not recommended for use over extended periods of time and has not been studied in people who have taken the drug longer than four months. Long-term use comes with known risks, including physical dependence and addiction.

Stopping chlordiazepoxide after you have become physically dependent increases the risk of withdrawal symptoms, which can be unpredictable and severe in some cases and may include seizure. For this reason, stopping chlordiazepoxide is best done under medical supervision.

Getting Treatment for Librium Addiction

Chlordiazepoxide addiction can be difficult to overcome, but recovery is possible with the right professional intervention. At The Recovery Village, we are experts in chlordiazepoxide addiction and offer treatment that’s comprehensive, compassionate and complete.

Each person receives an individualized treatment plan that begins with medical detox to get you safely off chlordiazepoxide. Once your system is free of the drug, you can progress to rehab to learn how to live a benzo-free life. Treatment includes therapy to help you understand why you began to rely on chlordiazepoxide in the first place and to teach you coping strategies for living without the drug.

While each person’s treatment plan is unique, the goal is the same — to investigate the roots of chlordiazepoxide abuse, address any co-occurring conditions and help you live a fulfilling life in recovery. Once formal treatment is complete, clients can stay connected to supportive resources with aftercare planning.

Chlordiazepoxide addiction can be difficult to overcome, but recovery is possible. If you’re ready to take the first step toward a better life, feel free to reach out to a representative at The Recovery Village today.

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Editor – Rob Alston
Rob Alston has traveled around Australia, Japan, Europe, and America as a writer and editor for industries including personal wellness and recovery. Read more
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Medically Reviewed By – Dr. Jessica Pyhtila, PharmD
Dr. Jessica Pyhtila is a Clinical Pharmacy Specialist based in Baltimore, Maryland with practice sites in inpatient palliative care and outpatient primary care at the Department of Veteran Affairs. Read more

U.S. National Library of Medicine. “Chlordiazepoxide Hydrochloride Capsule.” March 31, 2019. Accessed September 6, 2020.

National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Overdose Death Rates.” March 10, 2020. Accessed September 6, 2020.

National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Research suggests benzodiazepine use is […]sorder rates are low.” October 18, 2018. Accessed September 6, 2020.

National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Benzodiazepines and Opioids.” March 15, 2018. Accessed September 6, 2020.

Agarwal, Sumit D.; Landon, Bruce E. “Patterns in Outpatient Benzodiazepine Pr[…]in the United States.” Journal of the American Medical Association, January 25, 2019. Accessed September 6, 2020.

Drug Enforcement Administration. “Benzodiazepines.” Accessed September 6, 2020.

World Health Organization. “Clinical Guidelines for Withdrawal Manag[…]e in Closed Settings.” 2009. Accessed September 6, 2020.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.