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By Boris M | 01 April, 2020 Published in Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
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Alcohol withdrawal is a serious medical concern in the addiction and recovery community. While cessation of alcohol intake is generally better for the health of an individual on the whole, it is common knowledge that alcohol withdrawal can be unpleasant and scary.

One of the things that make alcohol withdrawal so dangerous is that it has both psychological and physical effects. Fortunately, extensive research has been conducted around this topic, and there are a variety of medications and therapies to help alleviate symptoms.

The brain chemistry of someone who has a history of abusing alcohol has adapted to deal with the depressive side-effects of prolonged drinking. Suddenly upsetting that balance can be potentially dangerous.

The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal generally start within twelve to forty-eight hours and start with nausea, headaches, vomiting, and sleeping problems. As time progresses the withdrawal symptoms can worsen.

They may also include mild to moderate tremors, irritability, anxiety, or agitation. [1] Hyperthermia, delirium, and hypertension are some later stage effects that could manifest.

These symptoms can be severe enough to cause severe injury or even death if not appropriately monitored. The Chief Medical Officer at Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital states that the severe complicated alcohol withdrawal may present with hallucinations, seizures or delirium tremens. [2]

Not all withdrawal will be that severe, but it is essential to understand why professional help is necessary when taking this step towards sobriety.

What Is Librium?

Librium is the brand name for the generic chlordiazepoxide, a benzodiazepine that is used for its calming, sedative effect on anxiety symptoms. This makes it easier to get through the initial wave of alcohol detox which is often one of the hardest hurdles for withdrawal.

1. What Does It Do?

Librium, like all benzodiazepines, is used to hamper anxiety and general agitation. Alcohol can impede GABA (gamma-Aminobutyric acid) neurotransmitters in the brain from functioning correctly.

Librium helps to regulate the communication between transmitters which will be thrown out of balance during periods of withdrawal because the brain is so used to having to compensate for the effects of alcohol on GABA neurotransmitters.

To compensate for the sudden imbalance in the brain, Librium helps to regulate nervous activity.

2. How to Take It

Because it is primarily to assist with the initial stages of withdrawal, most people will not have to take Librium for longer than a few days to a week. During that time there will be a prescription supervised by a doctor which will determine how much you should take.

Most tablets are 5, 10, 20, or 25 mg. One reason Librium is so popular as a treatment for alcohol withdrawal specifically because it has a long half-life which makes it less likely there will be rebound symptoms later on in the detox process.

Things to Know When Taking Librium

This an addictive substance being used to help with detoxification so there are a few things to keep in mind before you start taking Librium.

Some of the factors that will be taken into account when your doctor is determining what dose of Librium to subscribe will include the following:

  • If there is a presence of liver disease
  • Age, height, weight
  • Full blood screen
  • Renal function
  • Intensity of symptoms
  • Other medications currently being taken
  • Addiction history

Treating Severe Withdrawal Symptoms

The more severe the withdrawal symptoms, the higher the dose of Librium will be needed to make it through the first stages of detox.

It will also be vital that trained professionals monitor responses over the first several days because increased symptoms bring with them the potential for increased, even lethal, damage to the body if treated improperly.

What are the Side-Effects of Librium?

These are some common reactions to Librium:

  • Drowsiness
  • Tiredness
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Blurred vision
  • Swelling
  • Skin rash
  • Irregular menstrual periods
  • Headache

Alcohol’s Effects That Cannot Be Cured By Librium

The feelings of depression, stress, and anxiety that come after the detoxification will not be eliminated by any benzodiazepine. Instead, they must be overcome with other medications and support options like therapy.

Alcohol causes severe damage to the human body after prolonged exposure, and it will not automatically heal itself. Some of the common physical causes of the negative feelings that come with being sober include the following:

  • Low dopamine
  • Low serotonin
  • Magnesium deficiency
  • B-vitamin deficiencies
  • Other vitamin and mineral deficiencies
  • Poor liver health

Your doctor can address all of these, but Librium will not assist with them.

How to Use Librium Properly

The dosage of Librium will entirely depend on how severe the reaction is to withdrawal, and your doctor will determine the correct amount.

This medication should not be used for long periods, and the dose should be just high enough to assist with the symptoms to decrease the likelihood of addiction.

There are two stages to dose recommendations for most medications meant to assist with detoxing. The initial stage involves coping with the intense wave of symptoms that follows on the heels of the first twelve to forty-eight hours of abstinence.

The second stage leads through the first week, slowly tapering off the amount of medication being used until it is no longer necessary to take any.

Below we discuss the two phases in detail:

After the doctor assesses a medical history then an initial dose will be prescribed to help the body cope through the first disorienting, anxiety-causing manifestations of the chemical imbalance taking place in the brain.

Generally, this takes the form of between 20 mg and 40 mg doses of Librium every few hours throughout the day taken as needed.

The first few doses are the most critical as it can be damaging to give both too much or not enough Librium, so a doctor will need to be on hand to assist with monitoring reactions to the prescribed amount.

Generally, after the first forty-eight hours, the dose is then fixed with a steadily decreasing amount. By the third day, this decrease is usually by twenty percent every twenty-four hours until the medication is no longer needed.

Here is an example of what a daily regime would look like for reducing your dose after initial detox stages are complete.

Day 1 – 30 mg 4 times a day

Day 2 – 20 mg 4 times a day

Day 3 – 10 mg 4 times a day

Day 4 – 10 mg 3 times a day

Day 5 – 5 mg 4 times a day

Day 6 – 5 mg twice daily

This will lead eventually to a complete tapering off of the drug within as short a time as possible.

Precautions When Taking Librium

There are a few things to know before taking Librium. It is not the right medication for everyone, and your doctor will be able to decide on whether it is right for you after your intake assessment.

This is a highly addictive medication, and it is best not to take it any longer than strictly necessary. It affects neurotransmitters creating a calming, sedated effect that can cause people who are experiencing high levels of stress or anxiety to become dependent.

Also, the longer it is taken, the more elevated the tolerance levels leading to a higher chance for addiction. It is best to have a support system in place including therapy while using this drug to help cope with the weaning off process. [3]

When to Call a Doctor

If you experience these additional side-effects reach out to your doctor immediately:

  • Facial or muscle twitching
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Trouble urinating
  • Changes in sex drive
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes).
  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Hyperactivity
  • Hallucinations
  • Slurred speech
  • Trouble walking [4]

FAQ’s About Librium

Below we have listed some of the most common questions related to Librium intake:

Some studies indicate benzodiazepines like Librium can harm the development of the fetus in pregnant women. A study by the University of Toronto showed an association between exposure to benzodiazepines and the development of major malformations.

Babies born to women who have taken benzodiazepines while pregnant have also shown evidence of suffering from withdrawal.

Librium is excreted through milk, so breastfeeding while taking it could cause issues for the child’s health.

There can be a potentially dangerous buildup in the liver caused by taking Librium, which is why the doctor will ensure there is not already significant liver damage before prescribing.

Age is also related to the liver’s ability to handle Librium, so older patients may be given an alternative medication.

Xanax has a shorter half-life and tends to work quicker, giving it the potential to be more addictive than Librium.

Yes. Librium is highly addictive, and the longer it is taken, the easier it is to become dependent.

Due to the way that Librium affects the brain to cause the feeling of sedation and calm that makes it a useful medication for anxiety, it can cause unexpected results when mixed with alcohol.

Generally, this takes the form of blacking out while remaining fully conscious. It is highly dangerous with the potential for coma or even death.

The Bigger Picture

In the end, Librium is a tool to help cope with certain aspects of becoming sober. It is not a cure-all, and it cannot be used alone.

Instead, it needs to be taken in conjunction with therapy, careful monitoring from a trained professional, and in a supportive environment that fosters a healthy outlook.

Ready to get help?

We offer high-quality rehabilitation & detoxification services tailored to your individual needs.

To discover your road to recovery away from alcohol, call us today on 0800 140 4690.

References

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4606320/

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6761820/

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK230395/

[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC31092/

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