Many people are prescribed the benzodiazepine Librium for treatment of anxiety-related disorders, but even with the beneficial uses of the medication, there are concerns about traces of it showing up on drug tests. How long Librium stays in your system, and how it appears in blood, urine and hair samples, is determined by several factors.
As with any drug, Librium remains in your system for a while after you take it. The length of time depends on several factors. One such factor is the drug’s half-life.
The term half-life describes how long it takes for the amount of Librium present in the blood plasma to be reduced by half. In other words, it takes one half-life for the amount of Librium in your body to go down by half of what the original dose was. As every half-life passes, the Librium is appropriately reduced. If a patient receives a dose of 100 mg (milligrams) of a drug with a 15-minute half-life, it will take 15 minutes for 50 mg of the drug to be broken down. In 45 minutes, only 12.5 mg of the original 100 mg would remain.
For Librium, the half-life is between 5 hours and 30 hours, meaning that half of the original dose would be eliminated in this window. The wide window is because there are so many other considerations that influence the rate at which the drug is removed enough from the body to be undetectable in a blood or urine test.
To receive the beneficial effects of Librium, you need to take it for the prescribed period to build up the right concentration of the medication in your blood. When discontinuing the drug, because you don’t need to take it anymore or you have a drug test scheduled, you should be aware of the maximum time it takes to remove all traces of the drug from your body. Naturally, the stronger the dose and the longer the dose, the more time the body needs to remove enough Librium so a drug test will not return a positive finding. Patients who do not reach the full concentration of Librium, and who might not experience the therapeutic benefits, will likely have a faster rate of clearance than those who do.
To get a grasp on those factors, it is important to look at what Librium is, what it is used for, and how it works. Librium (also known by the generic name chlordiazepoxide) is a benzodiazepine, that is used to help patients experiencing problems related to anxiety and in other conditions where anxiety is present, such as alcohol withdrawal.
Benzodiazepines work by boosting the effects of the gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) neurotransmitter in the brain. Many neurotransmitters are responsible for regulating the amount and nature of nervous activity across the brain and central nervous system, and the GABA neurotransmitter is one of them. A healthy brain is capable of producing enough GABA to moderate periods of stress and anxiety, but many people are born with brains that, for various reasons, cannot create the necessary amounts of GABA to moderate the nervous activity that compels their anxiety. With insufficient levels of the neurotransmitter, these people are prone to anxiety attacks, and they struggle to control their behavior as a result.
When a person in this situation takes a benzodiazepine, the drug stimulates GABA production in the brain, enabling the patient to stay in control of their anxiety and the moods and the behaviors affected by their anxiety. Librium is one such benzodiazepine.
Ready to get help?
Give us a call.
Librium has many therapeutic benefits, but there is the possibility of a patient developing a dependence on the anti-anxiety nature of the medication. If taken improperly, Librium can become habit-forming and dangerous, which is why benzodiazepine medications are controlled substances in the United States. They have legitimate medical applications, but the potential for physical and psychological dependence subjects them to restrictions on who can prescribe them, and who can receive them. This is why, for example, Librium cannot be purchased over the counter; it requires a doctor’s prescription, and obtaining the drug without such a prescription is a crime.
This also means some companies will not hire people or will fire their employees if there is evidence of benzodiazepine consumption, even if the consumption was for a legitimate medical purpose. This is done, in part, to curb the abuse of prescription drugs. In 2016, the Mental Health Clinician journal noted that the abuse of benzodiazepine “has reached epidemic levels,” and even a benzodiazepine as helpful and effective as Librium for the management of anxiety falls under this umbrella.
The time it takes for this to happen depends on the half-life of Librium and also other factors such as:
All of these factors combined determines how long the drug stays in your system.
The liver is primarily responsible for clearing out Librium, and some of that is done through urine. A liver that is in poor health cannot excrete Librium as it should. Additionally, liver function tends to slow down as a person ages; the older a person, the slower the rate of drug elimination.
Drug elimination is also affected by body mass index. People who have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 and above (the definition of obesity) will take two-to-three times longer to reduce the amount of Librium in their body than someone with a BMI of 24 (normal weight).
If there are other drugs in your system, this will also affect the rate of clearance. This is because Librium needs a particular enzyme in the body to be broken down. If other substances are also using this enzyme for the same purpose, then the rate of clearance for the Librium is naturally slowed down.
Different drug tests look for drugs in different ways, and whether Librium will show up on the test depends on how quickly the test is administered after the last consumption. Some drug tests are capable of detecting Librium long after the concentrations of the drug have been reduced to levels that would be undetectable for other kinds of tests.
For example, a blood test generally can find Librium within 6 hours to 48 hours after the last dose. A saliva test can find it up to 10 days after the last dose. Traces of Librium can show up as long as six weeks following the last dose in a urine test, primarily because the drug is excreted through urine; however, in some cases, Librium use may not show up on a urine test a week after use. A hair follicle test can reveal Librium consumption for up to 90 days.
Generally speaking, hair follicle tests have the longest window of detection, while urine, oral, and blood testing are capable of identifying only current and very recent drug use. Hair follicle tests can also detect the presence of drugs even if the hair is cut, styled, dyed, or washed.
One way to speed up the clearance of Librium from your system is to literally flush it out. Drinking a lot of water encourages urination, which will remove the drug through the kidneys. Exercise can also speed up the body’s natural metabolism, which will break down the drug for faster disposal. However, both excessive water consumption and exercise have their own risks, which might become exacerbated if you experience withdrawal symptoms that result from removing Librium too quickly.
Librium contains many active metabolites, all with their own long half-lives (some longer than the Librium itself), so it can take a few months for the drug to naturally clear from your system. The same factors mentioned above can also slow this process down. The presence of other drugs, a family history of substance abuse, an unhealthy lifestyle, or excessive consumption of Librium could mean that reducing the amount of the drug in your body to negligible levels takes a very long time.
Additionally, if your Librium use is excessive then discontinuing its use would cause painful withdrawal symptoms (both physical and psychological), which would make staying on Librium very appealing. Of course, this means that getting it out of your system in time for a drug test becomes almost impossible.
Certain lifestyle changes, such as increased exercise and water consumption, can help, but if you need benzodiazepines for your anxiety-related conditions, it is very important that your health and well-being come first. Talk to your doctor about the best approach.
(December 2018). How Long Does Librium Stay in Your System? Verywell Mind. from https://www.verywellmind.com/how-long-does-librium-stay-in-your-system-80272
(January 2018). The Benefits and Risks of Benzodiazepines. Medical News Today. from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/262809.php
(June 2018). Benzodiazepines: Schedule IV Controlled Substances. Verywell Mind. from https://www.verywellmind.com/why-are-benzodiazepines-controlled-substances-2584333
(November 2015). Urine Tests Required by New Drug Law Can Cost Patients Hundreds of Dollars. Lexington Herald-Reader. from https://www.kentucky.com/news/politics-government/article44379045.html
(May 2016). Benzodiazepine Use, Misuse, and Abuse: A Review. The Mental Health Clinician. from http://mhc.cpnp.org/doi/full/10.9740/mhc.2016.05.120
(August 2018). What Is the Half-Life of a Drug? News Medical. from https://www.news-medical.net/health/What-is-the-Half-Life-of-a-Drug.aspx
(August 2016). Liver Function Declines With Increased Age. HPB. from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4972366/
(October 2004). Pharmacokinetics in Obese Patients. Continuing Education in Anaesthesia Critical Care & Pain. from https://academic.oup.com/bjaed/article/4/5/152/291016
Benzodiazepines (Urine). University of Rochester Medical Center. from https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=167&contentid=benzodiazepine_urine
(May 2018). Everything You Should Know About a Hair Follicle Drug Test. Healthline. from https://www.healthline.com/health/hair-follicle-drug-test
(November 1994). The Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Symptom. Addiction. from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7841856