Side Effects and Risks of Taking Librium

Overview of Librium

Librium, known by the generic name chlordiazepoxide, is a benzodiazepine drug used to treat acute symptoms of anxiety, insomnia, seizures, muscular tension and alcohol withdrawal. The drug was first created in 1959 and was the first benzodiazepine to be synthesized. The drug is recommended only for short-term treatment periods due to its long half-life and its potential for addiction and dependence. Several of the conditions that Librium treats are better managed with alternative drugs and methods. Librium is considered to be a last resort or special circumstances option.

Librium - Side Effects and Risks
Librium is a sedative and hypnotic drug. It has several side effects that may be experienced by patients, in varying degrees of occurrence and severity.

Side effects include:

  • Yellow eyes or skin
  • Rash
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Constipation or other digestive troubles
  • Lethargy and sedation
  • Sudden loss of consciousness
  • Decreased or increased libido
  • Menstrual changes
  • Liver problems
  • Loss of muscle coordination
Due to its long half-life, Librium is not recommended as a treatment option for the elderly. Elderly patients taking Librium or any other benzodiazepine drug are more likely to experience the many possible side effects. Side effects that impair motor skills and cognitive function can lead elderly patients to sustain injuries, get into car accidents or forget everyday activities that are vital to health and well-being.

Elderly patients are also more likely to develop a tolerance and, consequently, a dependence on the drug. Patients who become dependent on benzodiazepines often suffer severe withdrawal symptoms. Dependency is addressed by slowly reducing dosage levels over time, allowing the body to adjust to lower amounts of the drug gradually. Withdrawal symptoms tend to mirror the symptoms that Librium is used to treat in the first place and can last for months or even years in some cases.

Women who are pregnant or nursing are typically steered away from Librium and other benzodiazepine drugs. All of the risks to the fetus are not yet understood but there is a moderate risk of birth defects. Risks are more pronounced during the first trimester of pregnancy and the use of Librium should be avoided at all costs during that time.

It is also advised that women who are nursing should avoid using Librium. Due to its long half-life, Librium can be easily passed to nursing infants via the breast milk. The choice of whether or not to take Librium during pregnancy or while nursing ultimately involves weighing the risks of taking the medication against the risks of abstaining from it. Women who suffer from acute anxiety or other conditions may need to turn to Librium if the consequences of their symptoms pose a greater threat to the pregnancy than the possible side effects of the drug.

For anybody using Librium, the risk of dependence is moderate to high. Librium is intended to be used as a short-term treatment. The prescribed treatment duration can be as little as three days up to four weeks. Dependence can even occur in patients who use Librium as directed. In instances where a long-term treatment is needed, patients may be prescribed increasingly lower doses toward the end of their treatment in order to allow the body to adjust.

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a 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 provider.