Ativan (Lorazepam) Addiction and Treatment Options

Individuals suffering from anxiety and sleep disorders often turn to medication to alleviate their symptoms and restore normal functioning. One such medication is lorazepam, known by the brand name Ativan. It’s a potent benzodiazepine commonly prescribed to reduce feelings of anxiety and panic, induce sleep, or prevent seizures. Lorazepam has a high potential for abuse and addiction due to how often it’s prescribed and how it works in the brain.

What is Ativan?

Like all drugs in its class, Ativan is addictive. It’s a particularly potent benzodiazepine, increasing feelings of mild euphoria and happiness when used. As a result, individuals taking Ativan may develop tolerance much faster compared to lower potency benzodiazepines, making it easier to slip into addiction.

Since the effect of Ativan is greater than other benzodiazepines, cravings for the drug may be more powerful and harder to resist. This combination of factors makes it easy to become addicted to Ativan and harder to quit. Federally, it’s classified as a Schedule IV drug, because it has a medically accepted use and has a lower potential for abuse and addiction relative to illicit such as heroin or cocaine.

Signs of Abuse and Addiction

When diagnosing addiction, clinicians rely on several behavioral criteria associated with problematic drug use. Ativan addiction may be diagnosed based on the following signs and symptoms:

  • Using Ativan more frequently or at higher doses than prescribed
  • Compulsive use that continues even if a person attempts to reduce or stop use
  • Increased attempts to get more Ativan, including doctor shopping or faking symptoms to obtain prescriptions
  • Neglected responsibilities at work or home
  • Tolerance requiring higher doses to achieve the same desirable effect
  • Withdrawal symptoms if use is discontinued

Ativan Addiction Short-Term Effects

Ativan abuse may appear similar to alcohol intoxication. These symptoms may be more severe depending on the individual and the dosage taken. At low to moderate doses, Ativan may have these short-term effects:
  • Fatigue
  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Impaired thinking and coordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Memory impairment
  • Headache
  • Dizziness

Higher doses may also lead to mood swings, hostility or aggressiveness, and severely impaired reflexes.

Ativan Addiction Long-Term Effects

Ativan is intended for short-term use; it's not recommended for long-term use beyond four months. Long-term Ativan abuse can lead to persistent problems including:
  • Memory loss
  • Learning impairments
  • Abdominal bleeding
  • Disorientation or confusion
  • Kidney problems
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia

Long-term abuse is also commonly associated with issues such as unemployment, financial problems, legal issues, or divorce. These are more likely to occur when addiction and abuse persist, preventing the individual from fulfilling their usual responsibilities.

Ativan (Lorazepam) Withdrawal

Withdrawal is possible even when taking Ativan as prescribed. When discontinuing medication, you should consult a doctor to ensure that the dosage is safely reduced over time to prevent or reduce withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal tends to be more pronounced and severe when Ativan is abused excessively.

Withdrawal typically begins soon after Ativan use is discontinued because of how quickly Ativan is eliminated from one’s system. Withdrawal duration depends on how long the drug was used and may last for one to four weeks. Some people experience symptoms past the acute withdrawal stage, known as post-acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS). These can last several months.

Ativan Withdrawal Physical Signs And Symptoms
Ativan withdrawal can also cause uncomfortable physical symptoms that include:
  • Increased heart rate
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Fever
  • Excessive sweating
  • Tremors and seizures
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Numbness or tingling in the extremities
Ativan Withdrawal Physical Signs And Symptoms
Ativan withdrawal can also cause uncomfortable physical symptoms that include:
  • Increased heart rate
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Fever
  • Excessive sweating
  • Tremors and seizures
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Numbness or tingling in the extremities
Ativan Addiction Recovery

The complex nature of Ativan withdrawal requires intensive intervention combining medical detox and psychological treatment to safely eliminate Ativan use. Safe detox typically involves slowly tapering use rather than quitting “cold turkey.” This process is completed under close observation of medical staff at a treatment center to ensure safety and maximum comfort. In this way, withdrawal symptoms can be managed appropriately and relapse can be prevented.

Treatment for Ativan addiction may involve pharmacological intervention, entailing the use of a safer benzodiazepine with a longer half-life that is easier to eliminate with fewer withdrawal risks. This strategy should be handled as recommended by a physician and monitored closely so it can be altered as needed.

Comprehensive treatment for Ativan addiction also necessitates behavioral intervention in the form of therapy and counseling. Both individual and peer group sessions are employed to treat underlying factors associated with Ativan abuse. This component is especially important when there are co-occurring disorders like anxiety or depression. Through therapy, individuals are empowered to combat existing mental illness and addiction in order to prevent maladaptive reliance on substances like Ativan.

Ativan FAQs

Ativan Addiction Recovery at Riverwalk Ranch
A Dallas-Fort Worth Metropolitan Area Addiction Treatment Center

Ativan addiction can have a destructive effect on individuals and their family, but Riverwalk Ranch can help. Our addiction professionals use effective and research-based therapies to treat Ativan addiction and other prescription drug abuse. Emphasizing the individual, clinicians tailor addiction treatment to your needs with the aim of achieving recovery from addiction and other co-occurring disorders.

If addiction to Ativan or other prescription drugs is affecting your daily life, contact us today at (877) 863-3869 to see how we can help. Located in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, our treatment center can offer a therapeutic environment with comfortable amenities to put you in the right frame of mind to overcome addiction. We serve locals in Texas as well as those seeking a dramatic change of scenery to help them achieve the healthy and addiction-free lifestyle they seek.

We accept most insurances

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