What Is Librium, and How Does It Affect the Body?

Librium is the brand name for a prescription benzodiazepine, chlordiazepoxide, which treats anxiety disorders and the withdrawal symptoms from alcohol use disorder (AUD). Sometimes, Librium is prescribed to people who need to reduce their anxiety before a surgical procedure, and occasionally, it is prescribed to treat some symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome.

Like other drugs in the benzodiazepine class, Librium can be abused, lead to physical dependence, and even be addictive. Although chlordiazepoxide is listed as a Schedule IV drug, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), all benzodiazepines including Librium can lead to physical dependence within two weeks of consistent use. These medications are rarely prescribed for longer than that, to reduce the risk of dependence and abuse.

Signs of Librium Abuse

Common physical side effects associated with Librium include:  

  • Sleepiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Blurry vision
  • Loss of balance
  • Bloating
  • Tremors

The drug causes mental effects, too, including relaxation, confusion, and intoxication like that caused by alcohol. The relaxing high from Librium and other benzodiazepines can become addictive.

Chlordiazepoxide is a long-acting benzodiazepine, meaning that it is active in the brain and body for several hours. People who struggle with addiction to other benzodiazepines may escalate abuse to large doses of Librium to get the original effects they experienced.

Why Do People Abuse the Drug?

People who struggle with Librium abuse and addiction are likely to appear intoxicated. They are more likely to experience negative physical and emotional effects, too. Additionally, people who struggle with addiction to Librium or other substances will show behavioral changes, including:

  • Trying to stop taking the drug and failing
  • Cravings for the drug
  • Problems at school, work, or home
  • Absenteeism
  • Choosing the drug over social or family obligations
  • Taking a lot about the drug or worrying where the next dose will come from
  • Becoming irritated or aggressive when asked about the drug
  • Lying about how much they take
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when they try to stop
  • Relapsing and experiencing an overdose if they try to stop

Dangers of LibriumWithdrawal and Lasting Harm from Librium

People who struggle with benzodiazepine abuse are at risk of an overdose when they combine the drug with other medications or central nervous system (CNS) depressants.

The most common drugs abused with benzodiazepines like Librium are opioids and alcohol. Librium and similar substances are not often the sole cause of overdose, but they increase the potency of other drugs, which can lead to a complex overdose that is difficult to treat. Overdose deaths involving benzodiazepines have skyrocketed in the past several years. In 2013, these medications, including Librium, were found to be involved in 30 percent of overdose deaths due to prescription drugs.

They were the second leading substance found to be involved after opioids, which were found in 70 percent of overdose deaths. This has led some medical professionals to call benzodiazepine abuse a “shadow epidemic” because it is obscured by problems from other addictive prescription drugs, including opioids and stimulants.

An overdose involving Librium or another benzodiazepine becomes more likely as a person gets older. About 3 percent of adults between ages 18 and 35 have benzodiazepine prescriptions while 5.5 percent of those 36-50 years old have prescriptions, and 7.5 percent of people ages 51-64 consume benzodiazepines by prescription. The older a person gets, the more likely they are to have other prescription drugs that may interact poorly with their benzodiazepine prescription, especially painkillers like oxycodone or hydrocodone.

Librium may damage the liver or reduce liver function, although most cases of liver problems heal when the individual stops abusing the drug. Liver damage is more likely to become permanent if the individual had pre-existing liver damage, including from alcohol abuse.


Lacey has worked for over a decade as a writer, in conjunction with having worked around the world in poor social and economic living conditions to provide sustainability programs through numerous non-profits. Her efforts focus on making a difference in people's lives one small step at a time.