Last Updated: July 24, 2020

Ativan is a strong drug in the benzodiazepine family that has the potential for abuse and addiction. Its a brand name for the drug lorazepam and is used to treat things like epilepsy, insomnia, anesthesia, and even alcohol withdrawal symptoms. The problem is that it is not supposed to be used on a long-term basis due to its strength and potency. It works to slow down the activity pathways in the brain, making it a soothing and calming type of drug. Yet, there is a potential for Ativan abuse and addiction.

What is Ativan?

As referred to above, Ativan is a benzodiazepine. It is habit-forming being a psychotropic drug. The use of Ativan is ideal for legitimate means but some do acquire a dependence. This is due to sometimes using more of the drug after a tolerance has built up. Users want to experience the same effects they have gotten in the past from the drug and may up their dosage. In some cases, a person abusing Ativan may not even realize it due to it being a legitimate prescription from a professional.

Treatment is available if you have an Ativan addiction. Treatment professionals can offer you various forms of support with customized care to empower you to start your journey to recovery.

When taken correctly, Ativan is powerful. It has an intermediate onset time with it staying in the body for approximately 10-20 hours. This is compared to other medications but when compared to other benzodiazepines, it is right in the middle with some having faster onset times and some being longer-lasting.

Ativan works by directly affecting the brain and central nervous system, producing a sense of calm in the user. It works by enhancing the effects of GABA, a neurotransmitter in the body. Ativan, like other benzodiazepines, activates the brain’s GABA receptors to stimulate them into overproducing GABA until the brain and nervous system are flooded with the neurotransmitter to the point of producing extremely strong feelings of sedation and relaxation as well as inducing sleep.

Everyday Health explains GABA as Gamma-aminobutyric acid and is a neurotransmitter that sends chemical messages through the brain and the nervous system, and is involved in regulating communication between brain cells.

The strengths prescribed vary from 0.5 mg, 1 mg, and 2 mg. The typical dose is two to three divided doses in 1 mg to 2 mg daily and it comes in a tablet form.

What Are the Symptoms of Ativan Abuse?

Like many other drugs, the symptoms of Ativan abuse include psychological and physical symptoms. Here are the withdrawal symptoms of Ativan:

  • Anxiety
  • Vertigo
  • Confusion
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Depression
  • Panic attacks
  • Sweating
  • Insomnia
  • Depersonalization
  • Hallucinations and delirium
  • Derealization
  • Seizures

Those who are abusing Ativan may exhibit some of the signs mentioned here:

  • Obtaining the drug illegally
  • Lying about how much they are using
  • Mixing it with other drugs
  • Neglecting normal responsibilities or relationships
  • Using it as a coping mechanism
  • Financial issues due to buying it illegally
  • Taking more than the prescription recommends
  • Making Ativan use the focus of their day
  • Doctor shopping to get more Ativan prescriptions

Taking Ativan for any length of time can lead to psychological and physical dependence based on a variety of factors. These include things like genetics and even the user’s personal history. Those with a history of drug and/or alcohol abuse are more vulnerable. Those with untreated mental health disorders are also at greater risk for developing an Ativan addiction.

There are symptoms that sometimes show up for those who are dependent on Ativan. These can include things like mood swings, risky behavior, and performance issues. A person may skip work, neglect their families, or take part in behavior that is considered risky.

Signs of Ativan Abuse and Addiction

Most people do not set out to form an addiction to Ativan. In fact, many are caught by surprise that they even have a dependence on the drug. This is because most are forming a dependence and not even realizing it. They simply want the relief it provides them for their condition. Once they get tolerant to their dosage, they start taking more of the drug and this causes an acceleration to becoming dependent. This is a twofold problem because by using more, they are creating that tolerance that causes them to take more in the first place.

Some people do take Ativan for the high and this is usually done in combination with opioids or alcohol. Since this is a drug that suppresses the nervous system, it has a similar type of intoxication as alcohol.

The effects of Ativan include:

  • A euphoric high
  • A sense of calm
  • Muscle relaxation
  • Drowsiness

Signs of Ativan abuse and addiction include:

  • Powerful cravings
  • An increased tolerance
  • Inability to stop using Ativan
  • Withdrawal symptoms after trying to quit
  • Longer than planned consumption
  • Use of Ativan continuing despite its role in worsening other health problems

Ativan Addiction By the Numbers

Between 1996 and 2013, the total number of benzodiazepine prescriptions written each year in the United States increased from 8.1 million to 13.5 million.

20 percent of all emergency room visits related to benzodiazepine abuse result in extended hospitalization or death.

75 percent of patients who visited emergency rooms for benzodiazepine overdoses had also been abusing opioid painkillers, usually for recreational purposes.

As of 2011, Ativan was the fifth most widely prescribed benzodiazepine, with more than 27 million prescriptions written (and the number has continued to rise).

Between 1999 and 2010, the rate of annual overdose deaths attributable partially or completely to benzodiazepine consumption rose by more than 500 percent, from .58 adults per 100,000 to 3.07 percent adults per 100,000.

These numbers indicate that Ativan abuse continues to increase.

Treatment for Ativan Addiction

If you or a loved one is addicted to Ativan, the good news is that treatment helps get life back to a healthy and happy journey. We’re here for you and help you or your loved one through proven methods of recovery, and you can reach us with one simple phone call.

The reason professional help is needed is due to the fact that quitting Ativan cold turkey can lead to a medical emergency. Without a gradual reduction in use, severe withdrawal symptoms may become prevalent. These include:

  • Uncontrolled nervousness and anxiety
  • Coma
  • Dizziness
  • Insomnia
  • Distorted perceptions of reality
  • Delirium and hallucinations
  • Panic attacks
  • Depression
  • Heavy sweating
  • Short-term memory loss

Since the initial Ativan withdrawal has the potential to be fatal, it’s advisable to enter a detox program. Through a professional detoxification, you can be monitored, tapered off the drug gradually and be given medications to prevent and manage symptoms and ensure that your withdrawal is safer and more comfortable.

After that, a rehabilitation program increases the patient’s chances of a successful recovery. Medical professionals help the patient address and identify things like hidden anxiety disorders, depression, or other conditions conducive to addiction. There is a therapy called CBT, which is cognitive behavioral therapy. It can also be used in conjunction for those who have what is known as a co-occuring disorder.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps by minimizing the chances of relapse and all available treatments work to help the patient do the following:

  1. Give insight on why they are motivated to use Librium beyond their prescription
  2. Alter behaviors that create an atmosphere where drug use is more apt to happen
  3. To stick with the patient’s personalized treatment plan for the best chance of success

Doctors, therapists, and staff work with you or your loved one to address the underlying issues and customize a treatment plan that is tailored for the patient’s addiction. This allows them to help manage it on a long-term basis instead of a temporary change. By learning more about the “why” in addiction to Ativan, this creates the ability to get to the root of the issue and do more to encourage healthy changes.

Other types of therapy include:

  • Group therapy
  • Addiction education
  • Stress management
  • Holistic approaches
  • MAT, which stands for Medication-assisted treatment
  • Dual diagnosis treatment, if needed

The patient will work along with the doctors, therapists, and staff to find out what works best and targets the patient’s specific needs. We are here to ensure that you or your loved one lives a lifestyle free of Ativan addiction or dependence.

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