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Librium Addiction

Posted on March 18, 2013 in Prescription Drug Addiction

Librium AddictionWhen Librium came out in the early 1960s, it started a revolution in the way drugs are marketed and prescribed in the United States. For the first time drug companies were in the business of keeping everyone tranquil. For the first time you were told that a pill could help you adjust to your world. One typical advertisement for Librium referred to the angst of a college coed arriving on campus, who in her “newly stimulated intellectual curiosity” became “overly sensitive” to news events and other aspects of a “whole new world of anxiety.” The answer for her and everyone else was Librium. Within three months of its introduction and several millions of dollars in advertising later, Librium was the top selling tranquilizer in the United States.

By the year 2000, between 10% and 12% of all Americans were taking some kind of benzodiazepine drug like Librium, amounting to one-third of all prescriptions written. Today both the number and percentage of Americans taking mood-altering drugs has increased, partly due to the introduction of Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors like Prozac and Paxil.

Psychotropic drugs are not without their critics. The famous Harvard-educated author and physician, Dr. Andrew Weil, calls them “just another variation on the theme of alcohol with the same tendency to produce dependency and adverse side effects.” More recently, other experts have questioned whether the drugs are even more effective than placebos in relieving depression and anxiety.

Dr. Weil is correct about the addictive quality of benzodiazepines. Librium and other “bennies” are always ranked among the top ten of the most commonly abused drugs in the United States, and withdrawal from them can be more difficult than withdrawing from heroin.

What is Librium?

Librium was the first of some 2000 drugs in the benzodiazepine family discovered in the 1950s as a remedy for anxiety. Benzodiazepines are considered minor tranquilizers and classified as ultra-short, short and long-acting. Librium is considered short-acting.

The drug was first tested on animals at the Boston and San Diego zoos. When administered to hostile and aggressive monkeys, Librium caused them to act more docile and tame. After the United States Food and Drug Administration approved Librium for use in humans, it took off the first year it went on the market. By 1962, over 2000 doctors and 20,000 Americans were taking it, including President John F. Kennedy.

In 1975, the United States government opted to put tighter controls on Librium because of the number of people becoming addicted. The drug was classified as a Schedule IV Controlled Substance, which means it has some potential for addiction, but also has medical uses. If you are caught possessing, selling or otherwise dealing in Librium without a doctor’s prescription, you can face severe federal charges that could result in prison terms and fines.

Librium comes as a white crystalline substance that dissolves in water and may decompose in light.

The chemical name of Librium is 7-chloro-2-methylamino-5-phenyl-3H-1,4-benzodiazepine-4-oxide.

What are the Medical Uses of Librium?

Librium is prescribed to treat anxiety, withdrawal symptoms of alcohol, and nervousness before surgery. Hoffmann-La Roche pharmaceutical company developed and now manufactures Librium hard gel capsules in 5 mg, 10mg or 25mg. Adults typically take 5mg to 25mg three or four times a day for anxiety.

There have not been enough long-term clinical trials of Librium to determine if it loses its effectiveness over time. For this reason and because Librium is addictive, doctors in Great Britain are allowed to prescribe Librium for only two to six weeks.

Librium works by acting on a brain neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid or GABA, which controls the levels of epinephrine, norepinephrine and dopamine. These chemicals are associated with feelings of pleasure, calmness, and relaxation. Very recent studies by Dr. Christian Luscher and his colleagues at the University of Geneva in Switzerland have concluded that Librium and other benzodiazepines activate GABA and weaken inhibitory neurons that ordinarily hold back dopamine. What this means is that the basic mechanism that causes addiction to narcotics is the same for addictions to Librium and other benzodiazepines.

Librium is classified as a depressant of the central nervous system in that it can slow down breathing, heart rate, blood flow and other functions.

Does Librium Show up in Urine Tests?

Librium will show up in routine urine tests at work or school as a benzodiazepine. The half-life of the drug is 24 to 48 hours, and 2% is eliminated in urine as pure Librium, and 3% to 6% as a conjugate. It can be detected for up to ten days, depending on how much you took.

What are the Side Effects of Librium?

The most common side effects are drowsiness, dizziness, nausea, constipation, blurred vision, or headache.

Some patients have listed other side effects that have not been tested in double blind studies. These might include confusion, depression, fainting, unsteadiness, trembling, lower back pain, itching, loss of appetite, insomnia, sore throat, sweating, tiredness, and unpleasant breath.

Some people have extreme adverse reactions to Librium and develop symptoms such as ataxia, skin eruptions, lack of voluntary control over muscles, hyperactivity, confusion, suicidal thoughts, hallucinations, edema (accumulation of fluid near the heart), or extrapyramidal symptoms (extreme restlessness). These people have to stop taking Librium immediately.

What are the Risks of Librium?

The greatest danger of taking Librium over a long period of time is addiction. You will develop drug cravings, drug-seeking behaviors, withdrawal symptoms, and a tolerance to its effect if you abuse this drug.

The long-term effects of Librium have not been adequately studied in humans. However, tests of animals found that the drug makes them lose interest in mating or caring for their young, thus decreasing their reproduction. Chronic abuse of benzodiazepines is associated with anxiety, insomnia, anorexia, headaches, and weakness.

A study from the University of California of 10,000 white women over 65 years old found that they had a 60% increase in their risk for hip fractures if they were taking Librium. The research team believed that the women taking Librium were more likely to fall because the drug makes people groggy and unsteady.

On rare occasions some patients have gone into anaphylaxis or allergic shock syndrome the first time they used Librium. This life-threatening reaction can include difficulty breathing, hoarseness, swollen tongue and throat, heart palpitations, and so forth, and should be treated at an emergency facility.

What Drugs Interact with Librium?

In general, Librium should not be taken with any drug that depresses the central nervous system, such as alcohol, other benzodiazepines, barbiturates, muscle relaxants, sleeping pills, sedatives, tranquilizers, narcotics, opiate painkillers, drugs for colds or allergies, antihistamines, and certain anti-depressants such as fluoxetine. Librium causes a severe reaction with sodium oxybate, and should not be used with antacids, cimetidine, ketoconazole, perampanel, theophylline, clozapine, St. John’s wort, digoxin, disulfiram, kava, or levodopa.

Who Should not Take Librium?

Librium is not prescribed to pregnant women because it can cause malformations in their unborn children. It is not recommended for children under six years old, although it is sometimes prescribed to older children.

Librium can have a paradoxical effect on children and psychiatric patients in that the drug can actually increase their anxiety, restlessness, rages, and excitability.

Physicians do not usually prescribe Librium to the elderly because it increases the danger of falls but when they do, they usually prescribe it in amounts of 5mg to 10mg.

People with histories of drug abuse or alcoholism are not usually prescribed Librium because it is addictive. People with depression, epilepsy, liver, or kidney diseases, lung diseases like asthma, emphysema, bronchitis, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are not usually prescribed benzodiazepines because these drugs may aggravate their conditions or cause drug interactions.

What Is Librium Withdrawal?

Librium withdrawal is an unpleasant series of physical and mental symptoms that occur when you have developed a physical dependency on the drug and stop using it. Because withdrawal can include seizures, hallucinations and other dangerous symptoms, you should seek the help of a medical professional and not try to do it on your own. A doctor typically can reduce the dose you are taking by tiny amounts in order to avoid the withdrawal syndrome, or else monitor you while you are going through it, applying certain drugs and techniques to make you more comfortable.

The level of difficulty of your withdrawal syndrome will depend on how much Librium you have been taking and how long you have been taking it, and also individual factors such as your age, weight, and general health. Symptoms usually begin within one to three days after last use, and can take up to two weeks to go away.

Symptoms can be anxiety, loss of balance, blurred vision, crying, constipation, diarrhea, feelings of electric shocks throughout the body, irritability, impaired speech, insomnia, jumpiness, migraines, emotionality, nervousness, paranoia, problems with sleep, cramping, tremors, hallucinations, sweating, vomiting, convulsions, and vivid dreams.

In 1961 scientists abruptly switched eleven people who had been taking 300mg to 600mg of Librium a day to placebos (sugar pills). Two patients had seizures on days seven to eight after last use, and nine experienced loss of appetite, psychosis, mood changes, depression, and insomnia.

What Is Librium Overdose?

Librium overdoses occur when you take too much Librium or combine it with other central nervous system depressants, most often alcohol or narcotics. Some Librium overdoses are intentional suicide attempts.

Overdose symptoms are sleepiness, confusion, low blood pressure, slow rate of breathing, impaired coordination and balance, dizziness, weakness, and sometimes coma. At an emergency room facility, doctors will open the patient’s airways, monitor for seizures or re-sedation, use intravenous fluids or administer oxygen, and monitor vital signs such as heartbeat and blood pressure. If the drug was taken within two hours, sometimes the patient’s stomach will be pumped. If the drug was taken within four hours, doctors may administer charcoal. One antidote frequently used for Librium overdoses is called flumazenil.

What is Librium Addiction and Abuse?

Librium has been proven to be an addictive substance. Laboratory animals prefer solutions containing Librium three to one over sugar solutions. The mechanism of Librium addiction occurs in the brain and is similar to addictions to narcotic drugs like oxycodone or heroin.

Librium abuse and addiction occurs when a person uses the drug in ways that are not medically recommended. Sometimes a person’s abuse of Librium begins with a legitimate prescription for the drug. After taking the drug for many months, the person develops a physical dependency on Librium and enters a severe withdrawal syndrome when he or she tries to stop. If family members express concern, the person typically attributes his or her Librium abuse to stress caused by family or career.

Librium is also a party drug used to help people relax and get high. Because it is easily dissolved and can reduce inhibitions, Librium is sometimes dropped into drinks to function as a date rape drug.

The people who most frequently abuse or become addicted to Librium are those who are addicted to cocaine or heroin. They use Librium to modulate the effects of their stimulants or to relax and get to sleep. Elvis Presley, Tammy Faye Bakker, and Liz Taylor were addicted to Librium along with alcohol and/or other drugs.

Street dealers and illegal Internet pharmacies sell Librium capsules, whose street names can be downers, tranks, bennies, L, blue bombs, nerve pills, blues, ruffies and normies.

Researchers have found that socioeconomic status, certain comorbidities, peer pressure, and unemployment can be factors in Librium addictions, as well as certain genetic traits that pre-dispose a person to substance abuse.

What Treatments are Available for Librium Addiction and Abuse?

Librium addiction can be one of the hardest of all addictions to create because, as one addiction specialist has said, people abuse Librium to address their emotional pain. Moreover, people who have been abusing it for a long time and in high amounts have to undergo a difficult withdrawal syndrome that can last for weeks.

However, if you are addicted to Librium, you should not put off getting treatment. This drug, like narcotics, can cause long-term changes in your brain architecture that will make your recovery even more difficult if you keep postponing it.

If you are severely addicted to Librium or if you are addicted to cocaine and heroin and using Librium to modulate the effects of either of these drugs, it may be time to enter a residential treatment center.

Your first step toward recovery will be physical detoxification, supervised on a 24-hour basis by physicians and other medical professionals. Once your body is clear of drugs, you can concentrate on a state-of-the-art holistic program of psychotherapy and physical recovery through exercise and good nutrition. You may learn new ways to relax through yoga, meditation and journaling; and other therapies that might include art, drama and music to help you get in touch with and understand your emotions. You can make new friends who are sharing this journey of self-discovery with you as you work through your programs together.

Once you leave your residential treatment center, you will continue in an aftercare program that might include individual psychotherapy, family or couples counseling, and attendance at support meetings.

The vast majority of people who are suffering from drug addiction have comorbidities such as depression, childhood trauma or posttraumatic stress syndrome that can be addressed in separate protocols during residential treatment.

How Can I Tell If I am Addicted to Librium?

If you can answer yes to one more of these questions, it is time to talk to an addiction specialist at a residential treatment center, a mental health professional at a local mental health clinic or to your family physician about your drug problems.

  • Are you using Librium without a doctor’s prescription?
  • Do you go from one doctor to another in order to obtain prescriptions for Librium?
  • Have you been using Librium for more than a few months?
  • Do experience withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety and headaches when you try to stop using Librium?
  • Have you tried to quit using Librium on your own and failed?
  • Do you feel ashamed or guilty about your use of Librium or other drugs?
  • Have you risk your safety by driving an automobile while under the influence of drugs?
  • Do you worry that you will encounter legal trouble if you keep using drugs?
  • Are you using Librium along with cocaine or heroin?
  • Is it impossible for you to go for more than a day or two without taking tranquilizers?
  • Do experience insomnia and deep anxiety when you stop taking drugs?
  • Do you realize that your use of Librium is causing you certain unpleasant physical symptoms?
  • Is it true that you have never talked to a mental health specialist or undergone psychotherapy for your anxiety problems?
  • Is your use of Librium , causing you to function below your potential?
  • Do your family members or friends criticize you for using drugs?

Sources:

Henig, Robin. “Valium’s Contribution to Our New Normal,” The New York Times, September 29, 2012.

Advertising Age. Vol. 79 Issue 25, pC3-C3. 1/9p.

Ibid.

Bellenir, Karen. Drug Abuse Sourcebook. Detroit: Omnigraphics, 2000, pg 133.

Raji, Bayan. “Xanax, Celexa and Zoloft among the Most Prescribed Medications in 2011,” Houston Business Journal, September 18, 2012.

Weil, Dr. Andrew. From Chocolate to Morphine. (New York: Howard Mifflin), 1998, pg. 74.

Kirsch, Irving. The Emperor’s New Drugs. New York: Basic Books, 2010.

“Drugs of Abuse,” The United States Drug Enforcement Agency, the Department of Justice, see http://www.naabt.org/documents/Drugs%20of%20abuse%20DEA.pdf

Pearce, Jeremy. “Leo Sternbach, 97, Valium Creator, Dies,” The New York Times, October 1, 2005.

“Chlordiazepoxide Hydrochloride (Oral Route),” The Mayo Clinic Staff, see http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/drug-information/DR602783

Lawrence, William. “Reports on Tests of Synthetic Drug Are Promising,” The New York Times, February 28, 1960.

Altman, Lawrence and Todd Purdum. “In J.F.K. File, Hidden Illness, Pain and Pills,” The New York Times, November 17, 2002.

Lyons, Richard. U.S. Acts to Curb Two Tranquilizers,” The New York Times,  August 16, 1973.

“Commonly Abused Drugs,” The National Institute on Drug Abuse, see http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/media-guide/commonly-abused-drugs

“Librium,” The Rx List, see http://www.rxlist.com/librium-drug.htm

Ibid.

“Librium,” The Rx List, see http://www.rxlist.com/librium-drug.htm

“Chlordiazepoxide Hydrochloride (Oral Route),” The Mayo Clinic Staff, see http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/drug-information/DR602783

“Librium,” The Rx List, see http://www.rxlist.com/librium-drug.htm

“Librium,” Official Information from the United States Food and Drug Administration, Drugs.com, see http://www.drugs.com/pro/librium.html

“Librium,” Official Information from the United States Food and Drug Administration, Drugs.com, see http://www.drugs.com/pro/librium.html

Colvin, Rod. Prescription Drug Abuse Omaha, NB: Addicus Books, 2002, pg. 86.

“Well-known Mechanism Underlies Benzodiazepine Addictive Qualities,” The National Institute of Drugs, see http://www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/nida-notes/2012/04/well-known-mechanism-underlies-benzodiazepines-addictive-properties

1Klosterman, Lorrie. Facts About Depressants (New York: Cavendish), 2005.

“Librium,” The Rx List, see http://www.rxlist.com/librium-drug.htm

“Chlordiazepoxide Hydrochloride (Oral Route),” The Mayo Clinic Staff, see http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/drug-information/DR602783

“Librium,” Official Information from the United States Food and Drug Administration, Drugs.com, see http://www.drugs.com/pro/librium.html

“Librium,” Official Information from the United States Food and Drug Administration, Drugs.com, see http://www.drugs.com/pro/librium.html

“Benzodiazepine Abuse,” The Web MD, see http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/benzodiazepine-abuse

Medical Update, October 95, Vol. 19 Issue 4, p5, 1/3p, Black and White Photograph\

“Chlordiazepoxide Hydrochloride (Oral Route),” The Mayo Clinic Staff, see http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/drug-information/DR602783

“Librium,” The Rx List, see http://www.rxlist.com/librium-drug.htm

“Librium,” Official Information from the United States Food and Drug Administration, Drugs.com, see http://www.drugs.com/pro/librium.html

“Librium,” Official Information from the United States Food and Drug Administration, Drugs.com, see http://www.drugs.com/pro/librium.html

“Librium,” The Rx List, see http://www.rxlist.com/librium-drug.htm

“Chlordiazepoxide Hydrochloride (Oral Route),” The Mayo Clinic Staff, see http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/drug-information/DR602783

“Chlordiazepoxide Hydrochloride (Oral Route),” The Mayo Clinic Staff, see http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/drug-information/DR602783

Hollister, Leo, et al. “Withdrawal reactions from chlordiazepoxide (“Librium”),” Psychopharmacologia, 20. 2. 1961, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp 63-68

Ibid.

“Benzodiazepine Abuse,” The Web MD, see http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/benzodiazepine-abuse

“Well-known Mechanism Underlies Benzodiazepine Addictive Qualities,” The National Institute of Drugs, see http://www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/nida-notes/2012/04/well-known-mechanism-underlies-benzodiazepines-addictive-properties

“Benzodiazepine Abuse,” The Web MD, see http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/benzodiazepine-abuse

Ibid.

Bellenir, op cit, page 134.

Henig, Robin. “Valium’s Contribution to Our New Normal,” The New York Times, September 29, 2012.

“Benzodiazepine Abuse,” The Web MD, see http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/benzodiazepine-abuse

Colvin, op cit, pg. 85-86.

“Well-known Mechanism Underlies Benzodiazepine Addictive Qualities,” The National Institute of Drugs, see http://www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/nida-notes/2012/04/well-known-mechanism-underlies-benzodiazepines-addictive-properties

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