Librium for Alcohol Withdrawal

When someone tries to reduce their alcohol intake or stops consuming alcohol, especially after drinking alcohol heavily over a long period, they can experience alcohol withdrawal.1 Among all the substance-related acute withdrawal syndromes, alcohol withdrawal can be particularly dangerous, and in some cases can be life-threatening.1 To manage certain withdrawal symptoms and potential withdrawal complications such as seizures, medications like Librium (chlordiazepoxide) may be used.3

This page will explain what alcohol withdrawal is, its dangers, and why Librium is used for alcohol withdrawal. It will also explain how to get help for you or a loved one struggling with alcohol addiction.

What is Librium?

Librium (chlordiazepoxide) is a long-acting benzodiazepine that is FDA-approved for the treatment of acute alcohol withdrawal.2

First synthesized in 1956 and approved in 1960,2 it is one of the most prescribed benzodiazepines in the management of alcohol withdrawal.1

Librium for Alcohol Withdrawal

Although benzodiazepine medications themselves have a known risk of dependence and addiction,2 Librium and other similar sedating medications are indispensable for managing withdrawal symptoms and can be safely used in the short-term under the supervision of a healthcare provider.

Withdrawal management may entail a fixed dose schedule, where a person is given Librium for alcohol withdrawal at regular intervals; or on an “as needed” basis, in response to the emergence of symptoms or when a person meets certain criteria.3 Because Librium is a relatively long-acting medication, dosing intervals may be more easily managed while minimizing the risk of withdrawal symptom emergence between doses.3

How Does Librium Help with Alcohol Withdrawal?

When an alcohol-dependent person abruptly quits drinking they may go through alcohol withdrawal. Depending on the severity of their withdrawal syndrome, they may develop unopposed, hyper-excitable nervous system signaling, which is believed to contribute or cause specific symptoms like seizures. This can be extremely dangerous without medical treatment.

Benzodiazepine medications like Librium may be used to help manage alcohol withdrawal symptoms because they help calm an otherwise over-excited nervous system, which helps to prevent the emergence of more severe symptoms.5 Using Librium for alcohol withdrawal helps to ensure safety and comfort as the body adjusts to an alcohol-free state.

Librium medication is useful to help mitigate the risk of severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms, like seizures, but it also helps to manage agitation, anxiety, and other uncomfortable symptoms.2

Common Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

Alcohol withdrawal is a group of symptoms that a person can experience after stopping or reducing their alcohol use.5 Symptom experience will vary from person to person, and can range in intensity from mild to severe based on several factors, including how long someone has been drinking, how often, and how much.4 Some of the more severe symptoms have the potential to become life-threatening.6 The unpleasant nature of withdrawal can lead people to return to drinking to avoid the symptoms.5

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms may include: 1, 4, 5

  • Anxiety.5
  • Insomnia.5
  • Increased heart rate.5
  • Sweating. 5
  • Nausea and/or vomiting.5
  • Temporary visual, tactile, or auditory hallucinations or illusions.5
  • Psychomotor agitation.5
  • Seizures.5

Acute symptoms of withdrawal can appear as soon as 4-12 hours after a person’s last drink. Symptoms usually peak in intensity during the second day and usually improve by the fourth of fifth day.5

Is Alcohol Withdrawal Dangerous?

Alcohol withdrawal is not only uncomfortable for the person, but can sometimes progress to be quite severe. Certain alcohol withdrawal complications, such as seizures and delirium tremens, may even be life threatening if not managed appropriately.3,6

Delirium tremens is a more rare, but severe progression of acute alcohol withdrawal that can develop around 48 hours following the sudden discontinuation of alcohol consumption.6 Delirium tremens is considered a medical emergency requiring prompt medical treatment and supervision.4 Symptoms of delirium tremens include: 6

  • Significant confusion.
  • Visual hallucinations.6
  • Agitation.6
  • Rapid heart rate.6
  • Elevated blood pressure.6
  • Very high body temperature.6
  • Heavy perspiration.6

Due to the potentially serious outcomes of unmanaged alcohol withdrawal, it is generally recommended that a person undergoes a medically supervised detox.1 As part of an alcohol detox protocol, doctors and other members of a clinical team will closely monitor you to ensure you are as safe and comfortable as possible, while administering withdrawal management medications as needed. They can also respond promptly to any potential withdrawal complications or other medical emergencies, should they arise during the detox period.

What Other Medications Are Used to Manage Alcohol Withdrawal?

There are several other medications that may be used to treat alcohol withdrawal in various clinical situations.

Other benzodiazepine medications for alcohol withdrawal may include:3

  • Diazepam (Valium).
  • Lorazepam (Ativan).
  • Oxazepam.

Though benzodiazepines are often the first line of treatment in alcohol withdrawal management, other classes of drugs are sometimes utilized. Non-benzodiazepine medications that may also be used for alcohol detox may include:3

  • Barbiturates, namely phenobarbital.
  • Anticonvulsants, such as Tegretol (carbamazepine) and gabapentin.
  • These are usually avoided unless the patient is suffering from extreme agitation, hallucinations, or delirium.

Valium for Alcohol Withdrawal

Sometimes in alcohol detoxification, Valium (diazepam) will be used in a similar manner to Librium. Like Librium, Valium may lower the risk and severity of seizures and other symptoms during alcohol withdrawal.3

In hospital-based detox, Valium may be administered every few hours until symptoms improve.3

Alcohol Withdrawal Treatment in Dallas, TX

Living with an addiction to alcohol can take a heavy toll on the quality of your life. If you are concerned about your alcohol use–or that of a loved one’s–there is help available.

At our inpatient rehab near Dallas, we offer a range of evidence-based addiction-focused healthcare to help treat alcohol use disorder. Contact our admissions navigators at to learn more about the types of rehab, rehab admissions, your insurance coverage, and other options for paying for addiction treatment.

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