Librium is one of the most commonly used medicines to manage alcohol withdrawal symptoms in a medically supervised detox.

Librium is a prescription brand-name drug. The generic name for Librium is chlordiazepoxide, and its approved uses include treating anxiety and alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

Despite the therapeutic benefits of Librium, you can develop a tolerance to it, making it potentially addictive. Librium is classified as a Schedule IV medication by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). A Schedule IV medication is considered to have a low potential for abuse and addiction.

Why Is Librium Used for Alcohol Withdrawal?

When it comes to handling the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, Librium is one of the most commonly used medicines in a medically supervised detox.

Librium can treat many symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, including:

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Panic attacks
  • Tachycardia (fast heart rate)
  • Tremors
  • Vomiting

There are other benzodiazepines that are used to treat alcohol withdrawal, but Librium is preferred because of its long half-life of 24–48 hours.

When attempting to recover from an alcohol use disorder, it is important to participate in a medically-supervised alcohol detox. This approach uses medications like Librium because of how dangerous alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be.

One of the most severe withdrawal symptoms experienced during alcohol withdrawal is called delirium tremens(DT), which is characterized by:

  • Agitation
  • Hallucinations
  • Hypertension
  • Hyperthermia

DT is so dangerous that approximately 5–15% of people can die while experiencing it.

How Is Librium Used for Alcohol Withdrawal?

If Librium is used during medical detox, a standard protocol is to give a 50 mg dose by mouth every six hours for one day, and then 25 mg by mouth every six hours for two days. For a patient experiencing more severe withdrawal symptoms, higher doses of up to 100 mg may be used. In cases of acute alcohol withdrawal, a Librium dosage might range from 5–100 mg every two to four hours, not exceeding 300 mg in one day. In some severe cases, people may be treated with 600 to 800 mg of Librium in a day.

When doctors and medical professionals develop a treatment plan that utilizes Librium for someone going through alcohol withdrawal, they consider the patient’s substance use history and other health factors, such as their liver health.

Can Librium Be Used for Narcotics Withdrawal?

The side effects and overall experience of narcotic withdrawal are very different from alcohol withdrawal. Even though it’s approved to treat alcohol withdrawal symptoms, Librium is not approved to treat narcotics withdrawal symptoms.

As a benzodiazepine, there is an increased risk of respiratory depression and death when Librium is used by people who already take opioids. Therefore, it’s crucial that this combination is avoided.

It is dangerous for someone to think they can treat their own opioid withdrawal symptoms at home using a medication like Librium. A doctor’s close supervision and direction are required when detoxing from alcohol or opioids, especially when other medications are being used.

When you commit to a professional, medically supervised detox, your team of doctors will know how to best treat you as an individual in a way that’s safe and effective. They will create and guide a treatment plan that’s built for your unique situation.

If you or a loved one are struggling with alcohol abuse and need to detox, contact The Recovery Village. Our treatment programs begin with a medically-supervised detox that can keep you as safe and comfortable as possible to support a successful, long-term recovery.

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Editor – Erica Weiman
Erica Weiman graduated from Pace University in 2014 with a master's in Publishing and has been writing and editing ever since. Read more
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Medically Reviewed By – Dr. Conor Sheehy, PharmD, BCPS, CACP
Dr. Sheehy completed his BS in Molecular Biology at the University of Idaho and went on to complete his Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) at the University of Washington in Seattle. Read more

American Osteopathic Academy of Addiction Medicine. “Management of Withdrawal: Alcohol, Be[…]zepines, Opioids.” 2018. Accessed November 8, 2021.

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). “Reduce Risk of Opioid Overdose Deaths[…] Benzodiazepines.” 2019. Accessed November 8, 2021.

Costin, B.N. “Delirium Tremens.” Handbook of Clinical Neurology, 2014. Accessed November 8, 2021.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA). “Librium Package Insert.” July 2005. Accessed November 8, 2021.

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.