Ativan Addiction Symptoms 

At first mention, Ativan may sound mild compared to some of the drugs people can become addicted to. For many, it is simply an effective anti-anxiety medication that can bring relief from chronic or acute situational anxiety. It can also be used in medical situations to treat severe alcohol withdrawal. Ativan, like other prescribed medications can be abused and can lead to an addiction. That is why it is important to know the Ativan addiction symptoms. 

Used incorrectly, Ativan addiction potential is high. Unfortunately, society’s relatively casual attitude toward this drug can increase the likelihood of problems with abuse. It also makes it less likely for the problem to be recognized until Ativan addiction symptoms are extremely obvious in the user.

Ativan Side EffectsAtivan Addiction Symptoms - Young woman leaning up against a wall with her hands running through her long flowing hair with a anxious look on her face.

Ativan (or Lorazepam) is one of several benzodiazepines classed as a short-acting sedative. It is often prescribed to treat stress or chronic anxiety. When used at a higher dose however, it can cause a sense of euphoria. For this reason it is tempting for susceptible individuals to misuse the drug. 

These are some of the common side effects of Lorazepam

  • Drowsiness
  • Headache
  • Blurred Vision
  • Nausea 
  • Decreased Focus
  • Changes in appetite 
  • Dizziness
  • Muscle Weakness
  • Loss of Coordination
  • Skin Rash
  • Constipation

Ativan Adverse Side Effects – Short Term & Long Term

Some of the side effects listen above occur with many prescription medicines, but users also experience many more of Ativan adverse effects when it is used at these higher doses. It the short term, it can cause extreme sedation and inebriation, characterized by slurred speech, drowsiness, poor motor coordination, poor memory, and blackouts. 

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Some of the long term side effects of ativan include inappropriate behavior and unstable mood. Similar to alcohol, some persons may become more hostile or aggressive. At even higher doses, breathing can be impaired as respiration is physically slowed by the drug. This can result in coma or even death.

There are also additional undesirable side effects of the drug. In some cases of long term use of benzodiazepines (such as Ativan), there exists a possibility of cognitive decline. Decreased memory and overall decreased cognition during use may be another long-term side effect attributable to Ativan. Some recent research indicates it may even contribute to the development of actual dementia even after the drug is stopped.

Ativan Side Effects in The Elderly

Ativan side effects in the elderly can be more intense than in a younger person. The tendency toward sedation and memory loss is greater in an elderly patient. The sedative effects can also make an older person more likely to fall, resulting in injuries. In addition, while Ativan is sometimes prescribed for insomnia, in the long run it can be paradoxically detrimental to sleep patterns and sleep quality. 

Symptoms of Ativan Addiction 

One sign that the person taking Ativan may be developing a problem is the tendency to increase their dose by taking more than what is prescribed. This is done in an attempt to overcome the tolerance that is developing and get the euphoric response from the medication. 

Because of this, they may run out of medication before it is time to refill it, and then show serious withdrawal symptoms from going without the medication. They may also start asking friends and family members who also take Ativan or a similar benzodiazepine for some of their medication, especially since many persons only take Ativan to get through a short-term stressor, like a family member’s illness or death. This makes leftover medicine more likely. The person using may also try to buy the drug illegally. 

Ativan Withdrawal Symptoms  

Sudden discontinuation of the drug is also a problem for someone who has been using it long term, since it can cause rebound anxiety that is worse than what was originally treated. It can also cause other withdrawal symptoms, such as headaches, irritability, difficulty concentrating, nausea, and muscle pain. 

Sudden discontinuation from higher doses can even trigger seizures in some individuals. Even those who are not truly addicted and are only taking it as prescribed can still develop physical dependence. However, if someone who is taking prescription Ativan is experiencing withdrawal symptoms, this could be a possible symptom of addiction.

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Symptoms of Combined Drug Use With Ativan

Another contributing factor to the worsening of effects is polydrug use. Combining Ativan with opiates can lead to increased effects from both. This can lead to the drugs having an increased addiction potential, since the user experiences both drugs more intensely, and can intensify the side effects of using either. 

The risk of respiratory depression also increases when Ativan is mixed with other sedating drugs, such as opiates or alcohol. This increases the risk for damaging or fatal overdose. Persons combining drugs are also more likely to demonstrate obvious and more severe Ativan addiction symptoms. These include:

  • poor memory 
  • slurred speech 
  • drowsiness 
  • poor physical coordination 
  • increased mood instability 

This can also result in increased behavioral issues and make it much more difficult for loved ones and caregivers to interact with or control the person who is addicted.

How To Notice Ativan Symptoms in Others

With any substance, if the drug is becoming more and more important to the person using it, and work, school, family, and friends are becoming less and less important, there is probably an addiction. 

A willingness to break the law and obtain the drug illegally is another general sign of addiction. Admitting to a problem but being unwilling to do anything about it, even when confronted with the problems the drug is causing, is yet another sign. And with Ativan, the obvious physical symptoms of sedation are also a clue for families that something is seriously wrong. 

Unfortunately, for the person who is addicted, it sometimes takes something as serious as an accident, an arrest, or near overdose to admit there is a problem. Encouraging someone who is showing symptoms to seek help is extremely important, as well as being there to help when and if they say they are ready for help. 

And if you are the person struggling, reach out for help if you recognize yourself in these symptoms. There are so many addiction treatment options, like drug detox or drug rehab centers You can overcome Ativan addiction, and you deserve the chance for a better life. 

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If you or someone you know needs help with Ativan abuse is here to help. Call anytime 7 days a week 24 hours a day.