Librium and Valium are long-acting benzodiazepines that share many similarities as well as several key differences.

Librium and Valium are both sedative medications that belong to the benzodiazepine class of drugs. Benzodiazepines are commonly prescribed to treat symptoms like anxiety, muscle spasms, seizures and insomnia. All benzodiazepines carry the risk of addiction and dependence due to how the body quickly forms a tolerance to these drugs.

Although Librium and Valium are both benzos, there are some key differences between each drug. Librium (chlordiazepoxide) was the first benzodiazepine ever created and marketed. It is used to treat alcohol withdrawal syndrome and anxiety. It has a shorter half-life than Valium, meaning it does not last as long in the body. However, its half-life is still relatively long compared to other benzos, making it risky for elderly patients.

Valium (diazepam) has a longer half-life than Librium, which allows for less frequent doses and longer-lasting anxiety relief. It is used for anxiety, seizures, alcohol withdrawal syndrome, muscle spasticity and night terrors.

Librium vs. Valium: Side Effects

Both Librium and Valium have the potential to cause unwanted side effects. Some common side effects include:

  • Constipation
  • Confusion
  • Sleepiness
  • Sudden loss of consciousness
  • Changes in libido
  • Changes in appetite
  • Liver complications
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Menstrual complications
  • Skin rash or discoloration

Librium vs. Valium: Dangers of Dependence

Both Librium and Valium are Schedule IV controlled substances, meaning they carry some potential for abuse, dependence and addiction.

The human body has a tendency to form a tolerance very quickly to benzodiazepine drugs like Librium or Valium. After repeated doses, people taking Librium or Valium will need to take higher and higher doses to get the same effects. This increasing tolerance to the drug often leads to dependence, which is when the body and mind cannot function properly without the drug being present in the system.

Once researchers and medical professionals realized the risks related to drugs like Librium and Valium, they began to restrict their use to short-term treatment of acute anxiety symptoms. In order to prevent patients from becoming dependent, conditions like chronic anxiety or insomnia should be treated with other medications instead of benzodiazepines.

Librium vs. Valium: Withdrawal Symptoms

If a patient does become dependent on Librium or Valium, they may experience painful withdrawal symptoms if they suddenly stop taking the drug. Withdrawal symptoms often resemble the same symptoms that the drugs were initially prescribed to treat in the first place. These returning symptoms are often known as “rebound symptoms.” In some cases, patients may develop secondary psychological conditions like mania, schizophrenia or depression.

Withdrawal symptoms from Librium or Valium can start within two days of the last dose and may last up to eight weeks. These symptoms may include:

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Agitation
  • Poor memory and concentration
  • Muscle aches

In the past, when patients who stopped taking benzodiazepines would start to experience their initial symptoms again, doctors would simply give them a new prescription. What patients were actually experiencing were withdrawal symptoms, and receiving the same drug over and over again only reinforced their tolerance and dependence. Now, patients with benzodiazepine dependence are given gradually smaller doses so they can slowly stop taking the drug and avoid withdrawal symptoms.

If you or someone you love is struggling with Librium, Valium or another benzodiazepine, help is available at The Recovery Village. Contact us today to learn more about benzodiazepine addiction treatment programs that can work well for your needs.

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Editor – Jonathan Strum
Jonathan Strum graduated from the University of Nebraska Omaha with a Bachelor's in Communication in 2017 and has been writing professionally ever since. 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

World Health Organization. “Clinical Guidelines for Withdrawal Manag[…]e in Closed Settings.” 2009. Accessed October 31, 2021.

Hood, Sean David; Norman, Amanda; Hince, Dana Adelle; et al. “Benzodiazepine dependence and its treatm[…] low dose flumazenil.” British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, January 22, 2014. Accessed October 31, 2021. “Chlordiazepoxide.” November 9, 2020. Accessed October 31, 2021. “Diazepam.” November 9, 2020. Accessed October 31, 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.