Ativan, a popular brand name of the drug Lorazepam, is a benzodiazepine class-drug, typically used to treat anxiety, sleep-disorders, seizures, and panic disorder. As a benzodiazepine drug, Ativan is now recommended for a maximum prescription period of just 4 weeks, thanks to strong problems with mental and physical dependence, leading to addiction. Today, nearly 5% of the U.S. adult population holds a benzodiazepine prescription to drugs like Ativan, Valium, and Xanax, despite evidence that benzos are tolerance inducing, cause worsening anxiety and depression over time, and cause strong mental reliance. Over the long-term, Ativan abuse can cause respiratory depression, excessive sedation resulting in death, seizures, memory impairment, and overdose.
With a highly addictive profile, even prescription users can find themselves addicted to Ativan, and may begin to show symptoms of drug abuse.
Many also abuse Ativan without a prescription, which can lead to long-lasting mental and physical harm. Learning to recognize the symptoms of Ativan addiction can help you make the right choice in getting your loved ones into rehab.
Ativan Addiction Symptoms
Ativan is a benzodiazepine, with abuse symptoms similar to those of drinking alcohol. Individuals who are “high” might show signs of slurred speech, loss of motor control or coordination, confusion, sleeping, and other similar side-effects. Unlike with alcohol, these effects can last for several hours with no recurring dose.
You can also look for longer-term mental and social symptoms such as:
- Doctor shopping
- Using Ativan outside of a prescription
- Loss of appetite/weight loss
- Hallucinations or delirium
Withdrawing from social activities
No longer enjoying friends or hobbies
- Frequent legal/money problems
Lying/hiding drug use
In any case where your loved one is taking Ativan outside of a prescription, they likely have a problem. This includes taking Ativan with them “Just in case”, taking too many pills, using Ativan to stop a panic attack, or shopping around for the drug outside of their primary doctor.
Stopping Ativan can be discomfiting and painful. Users experience a range of withdrawal symptoms, including paranoia, anxiety, and general malaise. As a benzodiazepine, Ativan should not be stopped suddenly without medical supervision, as it may cause tremors and seizures, which can be life-threatening. Most symptoms will begin resembling a flu or cold and will gradually worsen.
Insomnia or sleeplessness
Irritability and mood swings
Anxiety, panic attacks, and depression
Tremors and shaking
Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
Many users also experience a rebound effect, where they begin to experience the problem they were taking Ativan for again. This can include extreme anxiety, sleeplessness, or PTSD symptoms, which can be dangerous and traumatic.
Ativan Addiction Treatment
Ativan addiction treatment typically includes an initial tapering schedule to reduce drug intake, followed by complete detox. Here, users most often receive full medical support to reduce the risk of seizures, as well as monitoring and therapeutic care to manage rebound symptoms. Once detoxed, Ativan addicts are moved into comprehensive therapy, tackling the symptoms and side effects of both addiction and the disorder they were initially prescribed Ativan for. In this way, individuals can recover while managing their disorder, and using therapies such as CBT to learn positive skills to manage stress, cravings, and emotional disturbances.
While actual treatment will depend on the individual, the depth of their addiction, and any co-occurring disorder, Ativan addiction treatment works to tackle underlying problems and causes of addiction, so that users have the tools to get back to their life.