Ativan, which also goes by the name lorazepam, falls into a class of drugs known as benzodiazepines. Benzo drugs are among the most commonly prescribed medicines in the world. Not only are they heavily prescribed, but there are 15 different variations of the substance. The purpose of benzo medication is to treat anxiety and sleep disorders that affect millions of American’s every year. Ativan works by slowing down an overactive nervous system, which allows you to rest peacefully.
Benzodiazepines are also the most prescribed medications in the United States. They are highly sought due to their ability to help with sleep, relax tense muscles, and ease anxiety.
The primary concern, however, is the risk of dependence that can lead to addiction. If Ativan is used for longer than a doctor intended, or the drug is used in higher doses through recreational use, your body can become tolerant. Using Ativan in conjunction with other drugs or alcohol can make it even more dangerous.
If you or someone you love is currently using Ativan, it’s vital to familiarize yourself with the signs and symptoms of addiction. If you suspect that you’ve become addicted to Ativan, it may be time to reach out for help. Addiction is a deadly disease, but it can be treated with dedicated care.
Ativan is the brand version of the generic drug lorazepam. It is routinely used to treat sleep disorders, anxiety, epilepsy, and seizures. In some cases, Ativan has been used to ease some of the worst symptoms brought on by chemotherapy. Some of the symptoms it can treat include nausea and vomiting. It is a potent and fast-acting medication that takes effect in as little as five minutes when used intravenously. It can work in as little as 15 minutes when used orally.
One of the primary benefits, in addition to its fast-acting properties, is that Ativan can last anywhere from 12 to 24 hours. The combination allows those prescribed Ativan to receive fast, long-lasting treatment to help them fall asleep quickly.
Since Ativan is classified as a benzo, it falls into the central nervous system (CNS) depressant category. It puts it in the same breath as alcohol and barbiturates.
These drugs suppress brain activity and bind to receptors, known as GABA, and activates anxiolytic effects. These also include sedative, hypnotic, and muscle-relaxing effects. Those who have deficiencies of GABA in their brain are most likely to benefit from these types of drugs.
While Ativan may produce the right effects for some, continued use of four weeks or longer increases your chances of becoming physically dependent on the medication. Once someone becomes dependent on Ativan, it can cause withdrawal symptoms if you try to stop or decrease the dose. It can lead to dangerous outcomes, which is a concern since it suppresses the central nervous system. Ativan can cause overdoses when combined with other depressants, and it can also cause seizures if someone abruptly stops using.
Some drugs pose no signs of addiction until it’s too late. Ativan, however, is not one of those drugs. There are signs that signal addiction immediately after Ativan is abused. The first sign is a tolerance will develop, which means a user needs a higher dose to achieve their initial effects. Tolerance can lead to dependence, which is the urge to continue using to maintain feeling normal.
Once these have developed, the last and final step is an addiction. Addiction is characterized by continued use despite the consequences that are associated with taking the drug. If Ativan has interrupted your daily routine, and you continue to use, it can be a sign you’ve become addicted.
Some outward signs of Ativan addiction you may begin to notice in yourself or a loved one include:
There is no single cure for addiction, and Ativan dependence is treatable with the right care. If you are diagnosed with a substance use disorder, you will be able to resume normal function with the help of professionals to manage the addiction. By using evidence-based therapies as your guide, there will be treatments established by addiction specialists. At this point, long-term sobriety and a healthy life are achievable.
Medical detoxification is crucial when dealing with benzos. The process will taper you slowly off Ativan and establish a medical plan that will help you fight for your life. These professionals will determine the best course forward. It will meet your specific needs as well as the standard of safety. Fortunately, you are not locked into this plan, and it can be revised to fit your most current needs.
Once you complete detox, you will be moved into the next level of care. It can mean a residential inpatient service, intensive outpatient, or an outpatient program. Each situation is unique and will depend on your current needs. Despite the intensity of care you are placed into, you will go through therapies designed to treat your addiction. Your care must be personalized to be effective. Your first step when entering treatment is to speak with the team and create a plan tailored to your expectations.
It’s a misconception that Ativan prescribed by a doctor is safer than illicit drugs. Unfortunately, that isn’t true. While they are more reliable in the sense that a doctor gives you the lowest possible dose to treat your ailment, they are dangerous when abused.
Where Ativan affects the brain and its strength, it can be an extremely dangerous medication when used wrong. If you believe you have developed an addiction and need help, you must reach out to your primary care physician to plan your next step.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018, March 06). Prescription CNS Depressants. from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/prescription-cns-depressants
Lorazepam: MedlinePlus Drug Information. (n.d.). from https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682053.html
American Society of Addiction Medicine. (n.d.). from https://www.asam.org/resources/definition-of-addiction
Garrison, A. (2018, August 03). Antianxiety drugs – often more deadly than opioids – are fueling the next drug crisis in US. from https://www.cnbc.com/2018/08/02/antianxiety-drugs-fuel-the-next-deadly-drug-crisis-in-us.html
Benzodiazepines. (n.d.). from https://www.dea.gov/factsheets/benzodiazepines