Ativan Addiction – Signs, Symptoms & Treatment

What is ativan addiction? Ativan (generic name Lorazepam) is a medication that is prescribed to treat a variety of conditions, chiefly anxiety disorder—a mental health disorder involving extreme fear or worry strong enough to interfere with one’s daily life. It belongs to a class of drugs called benzodiazepines, which act on the brain and central nervous system in order to produce a calming effect.

Though Ativan can aid in the treatment of many conditions when used as directed, it’s addictive nature may lead to abuse of the drug by those who use it.

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How Long Does It Take To Become Addicted To Ativan?

While there is no set period in which one forms an addiction to Ativan, the likelihood of dependency increases when the drug is used for longer than the prescribed amount of time, or in higher doses than are recommended. Ativan is a highly addictive substance. The effects of Ativan become impaired over time as users develop a tolerance to the drug. Soon, it becomes necessary to increase dosage in order to achieve the usual calming effect. However, as the dosage increases, so does the risk that is posed to the user.

ativan addiction

Sample of Ativan (Lorazepam) on a table.

Ativan Side Effects

Ativan use may carry some side effects. These side effects will vary from one individual to another and are affected by many factors which include the person’s physical and mental health, their age and whether or not they abuse other drugs in combination with Ativan.

Common Side Effects:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of coordination
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Blurred vision
  • Changes in sexual interest or ability
  • Constipation
  • Heartburn
  • Change in appetite

Unlikely But Serious Side Effects:

  • Mental/mood changes (such as hallucinations, depression, or suicidal thoughts)
  • Slurred speech or difficulty speaking
  • Unusual weakness
  • Trouble walking
  • Memory problems
  • Signs of infection
  • Seizures
  • Jaundice

It is important to seek medical assistance immediately if you experience any of the rarer side effects, or if common side effects persist and worsen.

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Signs of Ativan Addiction

Ativan abusers show behavioral signs of addiction. Typically, those addicted to Ativan devote an increased amount of time and energy to obtaining and consuming the drug, which can negatively effect their everyday lives.

ativan-abuse

Prescription Drug Abusers May:

  • Have a need and a prescription for Ativan
  • Feign symptoms in order to get a prescription
  • Source Ativan from those who have prescriptions
  • Visit multiple physicians (doctor shop) in order to obtain multiple prescriptions

In most scenarios, Ativan is obtained by prescription. This can result in the following.

Indicators of Pill Addiction:

  • Prescription bottles evident in a person’s environment
  • Multiple prescription bottles with overlapping months (as doctors prescribe Ativan only once a month, usually not for more than four months)
  • Filling prescriptions at different pharmacies in order to avoid detection

There are also identifiable physical signs of Ativan addiction. For example, the side effects of taking high doses of benzodiazepines may help identify abuse of the drug.

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Physical Signs of Ativan Addiction:

  • Drowsiness
  • Poor decision-making ability
  • Blurred vision
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Confusion
  • Lack of coordination
  • Dizziness
  • Coma
  • Weakness
  • Cessation of breathing, leading to death

Not all abusers consume a high dose of the drug; rather, they take heavy doses over an extended period of time. This indicates chronic abuse.

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Symptoms of Chronic Ativan Abuse:

  • Anxiety
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Weakness
  • Anorexia
  • Tremors

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Ativan Addiction Withdrawal

Ativan causes physical dependence, making it a drug that is particularly difficult to quit. Because of this, significantly reducing the dosage of the sedative or ceasing to take it entirely will often induce withdrawal symptoms, as in the case of Paul Ingraham. He recounts his first attempt to quit the drug: after months of unintentionally abusing Ativan, Paul noticed that he was beginning to experience hallucinations, sudden numbness, and signs of the flu. Noting that the flu-like symptoms disappeared when he took an extra dose of the medication, he decided that it was time to quit the drug, and aimed to do so within five days. By the fourth day, he was experiencing warped vision and difficulty breathing in addition to hallucinations and intense anxiety—all of which ceased when he took a dose of Ativan. This incident led Paul to recognize the seriousness of benzodiazepine withdrawal and taper off the drug instead.

symptoms of ativan addiction

Signs of Withdrawal:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Panic attacks
  • Insomnia
  • Depersonalization
  • Hallucinations and delirium
  • Derealization
  • Seizures

Because benzodiazepines are one of three drugs that can be lethal in withdrawal, it is extremely important to avoid rushing the process. Suddenly stopping the drug is inadvisable and may lead to complications more severe than those listed above. A medical detox is always recommended in order to ensure safety while detoxing any prescription drug.

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Ativan Overdose

As it is highly potent, it is particularly easy to accidentally overdose on Ativan. These overdoses typically occur when the drug is combined with another substance, such as alcohol. Indicators of an overdose include:

  • Slurred speech
  • Disorientation
  • Muscle weakness
  • Slow breathing
  • Loss of coordination
  • Lethargy
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Coma

In some cases, an overdose may have fatal consequences. It is important to know and be able to recognize the signs of an overdose, as it could save a life.

ativan overdose

Mixing With Other Drugs

Ativan is often used with other drugs in order to enhance or suppress its therapeutic effects. Alcohol stands out as the most popular substance to combine with this pain pill. Many people will consume alcohol alongside Ativan, which increases central nervous system depression and the sedative effects of the drug. However, due to the high potency of the medication, this can result in over-sedation of the user, which may lead to unconsciousness, a coma, or even death. In addition to this, combining benzodiazepines with other drugs heightens the risk of overdose.

Ativan is also commonly consumed with cocaine, methadone, amphetamines, and is used as a popular supplement to opioids.

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Addiction and Mental Health

In many cases individuals who struggle with Ativan addiction often suffer from an associated mental health disorder. This is because the drug falls within a class of prescription medications known as Benzodiazepines. These drugs are often used to treat mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression. When an individual suffers from an addiction combined with a mental health disorder, they are said to have a dual diagnosis. It is important for people who suffer from a dual diagnosis to enroll in a treatment center that can treat both issues simultaneously in order for the person successfully achieve sobriety.

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Ativan Treatment – Seeking Help

Due to Ativan’s status as a prescription drug, many may believe that it is relatively harmless. The truth is that Ativan has as much addictive potential as any other drug. Fortunately, there are a variety of services catered to assist those who have been abusing this drug and would like to seek help.

Programs geared towards recovery from prescription drug addiction often involve a drug taper. To minimize withdrawal symptoms, a physician will gradually reduce the dose of Ativan over a period of time. This continues until the the patient is at a point where they can safely cease taking the drug. Additional services include individual therapy, behavioral therapy, and access to support groups; all of these can assist the patient in addressing the root cause of their addiction.

To get immediate help in finding an addiction rehab feel free to call our 24 hour addiction hotline 877-959-7271 or fill out one of the many forms available throughout our website. You will be put in contact with a detox and rehab admissions specialist who will answer your questions and get you or your loved one into a treatment center as soon as possible