Chlordiazepoxide is used for the treatment of anxiety. It is a member of the benzodiazepine family of compounds, which slow the central nervous system in order to ease tension or nervousness. In the United States, it is sold under the trade name of Librium.
Chlordiazepoxide is used for the short-term relief of symptoms of anxiety and management of anxiety disorders. It is also used for treating symptoms of withdrawal from acute alcoholism and alcoholic intoxication.
Chlordiazepoxide is useful when treating anxiety for short periods of time. It has sedative properties that are useful for brief periods of use. It is occasionally used to stimulate appetites and is a weak analgesic. The precise mechanism of action is not known. Several hours are needed for peak levels of the drug to be achieved. Chlordiazepoxide is available in 5-, 10-, and 25-mg capsules.
Recommended dosage varies with diagnosis. The lowest possible dosage that provides relief from symptoms should be used as the drug has a high potential to cause physiological and psychological dependence. When used in adults for the treatment of moderate anxiety, the usual oral dosage is 5–10 mg three or four times per day. When used for the treatment of more severe anxiety and anxiety disorders, the usual oral dosage is 20–25 mg three or four times per day. When used by older persons, or to relieve symptoms of preoperative apprehension or anxiety, the usual oral dosage is 5 mg two to four times per day. If used as a preoperative medication, the usual dosage is 50–100 mg via intramuscular (IM) injection. When used to treat symptoms of acute alcoholism, the usual initial oral dosage is 50–100 mg, repeated as needed until agitation is adequately controlled. The recommended maximum dosage is 300 mg per day. The usual dosage for children is 5 mg two to four times per day.
Persons with suicidal tendencies should be closely monitored, as chlordiazepoxide may lower the threshold for action and attempting suicide. The drug has a high
Other than physiological and psychological dependence, few adverse effects have been reported. The most commonly reported include drowsiness, confusion, and difficulty in moving. These are most common among older persons. Occasionally, transient loss of consciousness has been reported.
Other adverse effects include edema (abnormal accumulation of fluid in bodily tissues), minor menstrual irregularities, nausea, constipation and, infrequently, changes in libido (sex drive). Also, it may impair mental or physical skills needed to perform complex motor tasks. For this reason, persons using this drug are advised not to drive automobiles or operate machinery.
Chlordiazepoxide may increase the effect of alcohol or other substances that depress central nervous system functions. For this reason, they should not be used at the same time. A small number of reports of interaction with oral anticoagulants have been received, and it may exacerbate porphyria—a group of inherited disorders in which there is abnormally increased production of substances called porphyrins.
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L. Fleming Fallon, Jr., M.D., Dr.P.H.