Many people experience anxiety at some point in their lives. For some, the anxiety may pass quickly, but for others, it can be a debilitating condition. There is medication available for those who can not cope with their symptoms, but these medications also carry addictive potential of their own. Ativan is one of these anti-anxiety medications, and possesses a high risk for addiction. Ativan dependence can be difficult to overcome.
This article will take a look at how Ativan is prescribed and how it can potentially lead to dependency.
What is Ativan?
Ativan is the trade name for the generic drug lorazepam, part of the drug class known benzodiazepines. It is a sedative or tranquilizer meant to aid those having symptoms of anxiety. It is also useful in treating bipolar disorder, vomiting associated with chemotherapy and cancer drugs, nausea, insomnia, muscle spasms, restlessness, and symptoms associated with alcohol withdrawal.
Ativan works by attaching to the GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) receptors in the brain. In doing this, it slows down the chemical messages the nerve receptors receive and causes a calming effect without impairing the cardiovascular or respiratory system.
Why is Ativan Addictive?
Although Ativan seems effective in treating anxiety, one major drawback is its potential for dependence and addiction. As you take the drug, your body builds up a tolerance, resulting in some people upping their dosage to get the same results. In turn, it begins to cultivate insidious risk within the body.
Ativan also causes symptoms of withdrawal when people stop taking it. When people experience withdrawal, they are often likely to relapse, as taking the drug again provides momentary escape for withdrawal symptoms.
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Is Ativan Addictive in Small Doses?
Because of its chemical properties, smaller doses of Ativan have the same effects as higher doses of other benzodiazepines. It also stays in the system for a longer amount of time. The smaller dose leads many people who are taking the drug feel as if they don’t run the risk of becoming addicted. The medication’s potency however, belies this belief. Ativan is highly addictive, even in small doses.
How Long Does It Take to Become Dependent on Ativan?
The amount of time it takes to become addicted to Ativan will change from person to person. It depends on many individual characteristics, including genetics, mental and physical health, and biological and environmental factors. People who self-medicate with the drug or use it for non-medical purposes tend to become addicted more quickly than those who have had the drug prescribed to them.
One aspect associated with increased Ativan addiction is the increased rate at which benzodiazepines are prescribed. In fact, the percentage of adults who filled a benzodiazepine prescription increased around 30% between 1996 and 2013.
How Does Dependence to Ativan Begin?
The effects of the drug are almost immediate, and because of this, it is usually prescribed for short-term use. Patients who take the drug more often and for a longer period of time will find that the need to use the drug increases. They will also feel the need to increase their dosage to experience the same results. This is due to the body’s tendency to quickly build a tolerance to it.
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The first sign of addiction will be withdrawal symptoms. As the body becomes used to functioning on Ativan, it becomes difficult to even feel normal without it. Symptoms of withdrawal can include:
- Short-term memory loss
- Panic Attacks
Ativan Addiction Stories
The internet is full of personal stories about Ativan abuse. Though some claim to have had positive results, many have suffered through a downward spiral of addiction.
These are a few Ativan addiction stories:
“During this period in 1989 I came across newspaper articles and books which alerted me to the fact that I was addicted to Ativan, and I recognized many of the symptoms others had suffered in myself. I learned that after taking benzodiazepines over a long period our bodies become dependent on a certain level of the chemicals being in our cells and when that level is not maintained, we experience withdrawal on a daily basis. I also discovered that Ativan was one of the worst benzodiazepines to withdraw from.” – Des James’ Story
“Benzodiazepine addiction is real, and withdrawal has been described as more difficult than opiates. I was not on a large dose – one milligram every night, but I was on it for a very long time. I had the classic signs of ‘therapeutic dose dependence’ — tolerance and need for higher doses to be effective, which I did not succumb to.” – David’s Story
“Now events started to happen a little more quickly. The Ativan wasn’t as effective as it had been in the past, and there were days when Cheryl needed more than her usual dose. The psychiatrist agreed that on bad days Cheryl could take 1 or 2 more pills to deal with her anxiety. By the end, Cheryl was being prescribed 4 times her initial dose. But at each visit her psychiatrist reassured her that she was doing well. Gradually, he spent less and less time with her since the Ativan was working. Some visits consisted of him just writing a prescription.” – Cheryl’s Story
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Treatment for Ativan Dependence
Although the drug is highly addictive, there are happy endings to Ativan addiction for many. There are a number of drug rehab facilities available to Find-Addiction-Rehabs from the dependence Ativan and other benzodiazepines.
Patients may choose to undergo residential or outpatient treatment. Those who opt for residential treatment will have the advantage of medically assisted ativan addiction withdrawal. Here, professionals can monitor patients to make withdrawal as comfortable as possible and reduce the likelihood of relapse.
Common treatment methods to overcoming addiction may include behavioral interventions like cognitive behavioral therapy, community reinforcement approach, motivational enhancement therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, and contingency management. These types of therapies will focus on the behavior and thought processes that may have led to abuse, addressing addiction at its root.
Twelve step groups and family therapy can also be effective as can holistic treatments including yoga, animal assisted therapy, massage, meditation, art therapy, and physical training.
Ativan and other benzodiazepines are highly addictive drugs, with an increasing trend of overdose deaths attributed to them. Luckily, there is help available. If you suspect that you or a loved one is becoming addicted, do not hesitate to seek help and stop this dangerous drug from controlling your life.
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If you or someone you know needs help with Ativan abuse Find Addiction Rehabs is here to help. Call anytime 7 days a week 24 hours a day.