Images of various Ativan and Lorazepam pills

Ativan: Everything You Need to Know

Lorazepam, commonly known by the brand name Ativan, is primarily used for the treatment of anxiety disorders. One of the five mostly commonly prescribed of the benzodiazepine drug class, lorazepam is powerful and the risks of abuse should be considered when using this medication.

What is Ativan?

Ativan belongs to the class of medications called benzodiazepines that work by slowing activity in the brain and allowing relaxation.

Benzodiazepines are commonly used for reducing anxiety and as a sedative or muscle relaxant. Ativan, while primarily used for anxiety disorders, can also be used for sedation, insomnia relief or anxiety associated with depressive symptoms.

Ativan works by enhancing the effects of the neurotransmitter in the brain called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) which is a naturally occurring chemical that inhibits nerve transmission to the brain. By increasing the calming effects of GABA, Ativan helps ease muscle tension, reduce anxiety, lower seizure risk and induce sleep.

Ativan is federally classified as a Schedule IV drug under the Controlled Substances Act because it has the potential for misuse and dependence. It is important to follow a healthcare provider’s instructions closely when taking Ativan or any other benzodiazepine, including about dosage and duration of treatment, and to discuss any potential risks and how to manage them.

While Ativan is a medication prescribed legally by healthcare providers for legitimate medical reasons such as anxiety disorders, insomnia, or seizure control, its misuse can lead to serious problems. Ativan should be used under the guidance of a healthcare provider, as it can be habit-forming and lead to dependence and withdrawal symptoms if used long-term or discontinued abruptly.

What is Ativan Used For?

Ativan is commonly used for its anxiolytic (anxiety-reducing), sedative, and muscle relaxant properties. It is prescribed by healthcare providers for short-term management of anxiety disorders or the relief of temporary anxiety symptoms as it can help reduce feelings of fear, nervousness and tension.

It can also be used to treat short-term insomnia, to help manage the symptoms of acute alcohol withdrawal and to treat severe seizures. Ativan is sometimes used in sedating hospital patients before surgery or medical procedures.

Only a licensed healthcare provider should determine the appropriate dose and duration of treatment based on the individual’s condition and response to the medication.

What is a Common Lorazepam Dosage?

The common dosage of lorazepam can vary depending on the condition being treated, age, the presence of other medical conditions, and how the individual responds to the medication. For anxiety, the typical dose for an adult is 1 to 3mg given two to three times a day. Lower doses are given to elderly or debilitated patients often starting at 0.5 to 1mg per day. For insomnia, a single dose of 2 to 4mg per day may be prescribed.

What Are the Side Effects of Ativan?

Side effects may not be experienced by everyone and can be mild and temporary. However, some side effects can be serious and require medical attention.

Common Side Effects

  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Weakness
  • Unsteadiness, Difficulty with coordination and balance
  • Confusion

Less Common Side Effects

  • Depression
  • Change in appetite
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Memory impairment
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Blurred vision
  • Slowed breathing

While rare, serious side effects such as severe rash, allergic reactions, and severe respiratory problems should be reported immediately to a healthcare provider.

What Does Ativan Abuse Look Like?

  • Taking a higher dose than prescribed for a stronger effect.
  • Using Ativan without a prescription if obtained from someone else’s prescription, bought on the street, or acquired through online sources.
  • Combining Ativan with other substances such as alcohol, opioids, or other benzodiazepines to enhance the sedative effects, which is extremely dangerous and increases the risk of overdose.

Signs of Ativan Addiction

Recognizing the signs of addiction is crucial for seeking help for Ativan addiction and getting the early intervention that can help lead to recovery. Some signs of addiction to Ativan include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Coordination problems
  • Slurred Speech
  • Mood swings
  • Slow breathing
  • Confusion
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Memory loss
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not taking Ativan such as insomnia, sweating, nausea, anxiety, irritability
  • Increased tolerance
  • Loss of interest, neglecting responsibilities

If you or someone you know is showing signs of Ativan misuse, it is crucial to seek advice from a trained counselor. Addiction to benzodiazepines like Ativan can be serious, but treatment is available.

What is Ativan Addiction?

Ativan can be habit-forming, leading to physical and psychological dependence. Addiction occurs when an individual continues to use Ativan despite negative consequences to their health, social life, and responsibilities.

Over time, the body may build up a tolerance and become accustomed to the presence of Ativan, requiring larger doses to achieve the same effects. Physical dependence develops with prolonged use, leading to withdrawal symptoms when the drug is reduced or stopped. Symptoms of withdrawal can include anxiety, insomnia, headaches, nausea, seizures, and other severe physical and psychological effects, making it difficult for individuals to quit.

What Does Ativan Addiction Treatment Look Like?

Treatment options may include medical detox, counseling, medication-assisted treatment, and support groups. Recovery is a process, and early intervention can lead to better outcomes.

Ativan Detox

Choosing to stop Ativan is an incredible step on your journey. Because Ativan affects the central nervous system to produce a calming effect, abruptly stopping its use can lead to serious withdrawal symptoms so detox should always be medically supervised. This can help ensure medical professionals can assist with any discomfort.

It is important to never attempt to detox from Ativan on your own due to the potential severity of withdrawal symptoms. If someone becomes dependent on Ativan, discontinuing it abruptly can lead to withdrawal symptoms, such as seizures, tremors, increased anxiety, and insomnia. A medically supervised detox is the safest way to withdraw from benzodiazepines, allowing for a safer, more comfortable process that lays the foundation for long-term recovery.

Inpatient and Outpatient Treatment

Recovery from Ativan addiction is a process that requires careful consideration of the treatment options available. Both inpatient and outpatient treatments offer valuable resources and support for overcoming addiction, but the choice between them should be based on specific needs, the severity of the addiction, and the level of support required. It is essential to consult with recovery specialists and healthcare providers to make an informed decision and develop a treatment plan.

  • Inpatient care provides a structured environment for individuals with moderate to severe addiction. This setting is especially beneficial for those who require a medically supervised detoxification or who have not been successful with outpatient treatment. Inpatient care features a controlled, structured environment, counseling and aftercare planning.
  • Outpatient care allows individuals to live at home while receiving treatment for addiction. This option can be suitable for those with mild to moderate addiction or as a step down from inpatient treatment. This provides flexibility while still including medical supervision and support groups.

If you or a loved one is struggling with Ativan use, help is available. Please reach out to one of our compassionate admissions team members to learn about treatment options.

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