Ativan Abuse: Effects, Signs & Symptoms

Ativan Abuse: Effects, Signs & SymptomsAtivan is the most well-known brand name for the anti-anxiety medication lorazepam, which is one of the most versatile drugs in the benzodiazepine category. Classified as a tranquilizer, Ativan is used to treat anxiety disorders, insomnia, bipolar disorder (in the manic stage), some types of seizures and alcohol withdrawal during detox1.

Based on the addictive qualities of benzodiazepines, medical authorities generally prescribe Ativan in limited supplies, meant to last for no more than two-to-four weeks2. However, many people choose to skirt those guidelines, because the drug is so effective against their anxiety symptoms or sleeplessness, and this behavior dramatically increases the risk for addiction.

Ativan will become less effective as tolerance grows. Those caught in the spiral of dependency will continue to boost their dosages, seeking relief in the way to which they’ve become accustomed. Other people take a headfirst plunge into Ativan dependency by mixing the drug with other mind-altering substances, like opioids or alcohol, either for recreational purposes or to increase the imagined therapeutic effects.

Benzodiazepine addiction is a stealth disorder that can develop in just a few weeks’ time. If you’ve been using Ativan differently or in greater amounts that recommended by a physician, you are in grave danger of becoming dependent, if you haven’t become so already.

Symptoms and Side Effects of Ativan Abuse

Ativan works by slowing activity in the central nervous system. It is this capacity that gives the drug its anti-anxiety effects. But too much of a good thing can be harmful, and when you take too much Ativan or consume it for too long, it can inhibit your thinking processes and sap your physical vitality and strength.

Some of the distinctive signs of Ativan abuse include:
  • Daytime drowsiness
  • Confusion and memory problems
  • Lightheadedness or vertigo
  • Fatigue or muscle weakness
  • Blurred vision
  • Slurred speech
  • Tremors
  • Lack of coordination
  • Deterioration of fine motor skills
  • Slower-than-normal reaction time or reflexes
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Noticeable decrease in heart rate and/or blood pressure

Such symptoms are an explicit indication of drug use approaching a crisis stage. Should you ignore these warning signs you may find the drug no longer works as it should. This will allow your anxiety, insomnia or mania to return at full force.

More ominously, you could be putting yourself at greater risk for a drug overdose. Especially if you’ve been mixing Ativan with other substances. In 2016, 10,684 people died from the effects of an overdose that involved benzodiazepine medications (about three-fourths of whom had mixed the drug with opioids), and tens of thousands more were forced to seek emergency assistance as a result of their benzodiazepine abuse3 4.

When you develop an addiction to Ativan, your daily activities will center around your ever-intensifying cravings for the drug. You’ll need steady supplies to make it through the day. You’ll spend so much time using it, acquiring more of it or recovering from its effects that other interests and responsibilities will inevitably be neglected.

These behavioral signs of drug dependency reveal your desperate need for treatment. Stopping Ativan abuse will be difficult, as well as dangerous if it isn’t handled correctly.

Reach Out For Help

We provide holistic care and treatment using an individualized approach specifically tailored to your needs. Our goal is to help you lead a healthy, substance-free life with adaptive coping and problem-solving skills. Contact us today for more information on our certified staff of professionals and first-rate facilities.

  1. [1] National Alliance on Mental Illness. Lorazepam (Ativan).
  2. [2] Waknine, Yael. FDA Safety Changes: Ativan, Femara, Invirase.
  3.  [3] National Institute on Drug Abuse. Overdose Death Rates.
  4. [4] The DAWN Report. Benzodiazepines in Combination with Opioid Pain Relievers or Alcohol: Greater Risk of More Serious ED Visit Outcomes.
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