Alcohol withdrawal syndrome refers to symptoms triggered by a sudden stop to heavy drinking. Individuals suffering from alcohol withdrawal will most likely experience tremors, anxiety, nausea, headache, and irritability. More extreme symptoms include seizures or hallucinations. In these more severe scenarios, individuals may require alcohol withdrawal treatment. One common drug used to treat alcohol withdrawal is chlordiazepoxide (Librium). So, what is Librium? Librium belongs to a class of drugs called benzodiazepines. Clinicians may choose to administer Librium for alcohol withdrawal symptoms because it is longer acting than other options. However, without careful attention to patient demographics and comorbidities, Librium side effects can include oversedation. For attorneys pursuing cases related to Librium and alcohol withdrawal, here’s what you need to know about this treatment course.
Alcohol withdrawal syndrome can occur in chronic drinkers who abruptly stop drinking. Alcohol actively suppresses the central nervous system. Individuals may form a dependence after certain neurotransmitters in the brain become accustomed to alcohol intake. This brain function eventually requires alcohol to operate. If chronic drinking stops, the central nervous system becomes overactive, leading to withdrawal symptoms.
Mild alcohol withdrawal symptoms include insomnia, tremors, anxiety, gastrointestinal upset, headache, and nausea. More severe and dangerous symptoms include seizures, alcoholic hallucinosis, and delirium tremens (DT). DT is the most serious type of alcohol withdrawal and requires medical attention.
For patients experiencing more intense withdrawal symptoms, medical attention may be necessary. The most basic medical treatment involves maintaining a patient’s hydration and comfort. A number of pharmaceuticals can also relieve common alcohol withdrawal symptoms. These medications can also prevent minor symptoms from becoming more severe. The most frequently used drugs are diazepam (Valium), lorazepam (Ativan), and chlordiazepoxide (Librium).
Clinicians may choose Librium because it is a longer-acting benzodiazepine. Librium offers sedative effects for patients experiencing withdrawal. It is often administered in response to symptoms, rather than preemptively as a patient undergoes alcohol withdrawal. Treatment with Librium also requires careful attention to patient vitals and symptom progression for the entire duration of withdrawal.
Common Librium side effects include dizziness, nausea, drowsiness, and constipation. For patients with a history of liver disease or cardiopulmonary disease, Librium can lead to oversedation. Withdrawal prophylaxis should ideally have a low level of sedation — just for the comfort of the patient. If sedation is at a level that impacts neurological function, monitoring a patient for other risk factors during withdrawal becomes challenging.
Clinicians should administer Librium at the lowest effective dose for each patient. Librium can be habit-forming and requires careful medical supervision. Withdrawal treatment with Librium also necessitates regular dosing intervals. For each assessment of a patient’s condition and progression through withdrawal, clinicians must use their best judgment to adjust dosage without risking oversedation. Patients should not exceed a total of 300 mg per day.
This Litigation Guide was medically reviewed by Rena Zheng, M.D.
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