What is Ativan Addiction

Ativan is a potent benzodiazepine that has a high potential for abuse and addiction.  Slang terms for Ativan include goofballs, heavenly blues, stupefy, or simply benzos.  Taking Ativan for any period can lead to physical and psychological dependence based on several factors, including genetics and personal history.  People with a history of drug and alcohol abuse or untreated mental health disorders are at a greater risk for developing an Ativan addiction.

Those who are addicted to Ativan may experience cravings and continue to use despite any problems it may cause in their life, such as:

  • Issues with family or friends
  • Failing to follow through with work, or home obligations
  • Getting into dangerous situations
  • Losing interest in what used to matter
  • Social Isolation
  • Financial Issues
Ativan helps balance chemicals in the brain that can cause anxiety.
Ativan helps balance chemicals in the brain that can cause anxiety.

A habitual user will eventually need more Ativan to produce the same effects.  Often, clients addicted to benzo are aware they have a problem and may even desire to quit, but they cannot.  Withdrawal symptoms can make quitting even more difficult.  Rehab, therapy, and medically assisted detox can help those struggling with an Ativan addiction overcome their habit as safely and successfully as possible.

Understanding Ativan (Lorazepam)

Ativan is the brand name for lorazepam; an anti-anxiety medication also prescribed to treat other ailments ranging from insomnia to epilepsy.  It is classified as a long-acting benzodiazepine and is rarely prescribed for longer than four months at a time due to its high potency.  Instead, Ativan is commonly prescribed during alcohol detoxification to temporarily manage withdrawal symptoms.

Ativan belongs to the class of drugs known as benzodiazepines, or “benzos.”  These drugs block the neurotransmitter GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) to slow hyperactive mental processes.  The substance is typically sold as a quick-dissolve tablet, though it is sometimes found in concentrated, colorless liquid as well.  When used as prescribed, Ativan is usually consumed orally.  However, it should only be administered intravenously through IV drip by a healthcare professional due to the high potential for abuse.

After taking Ativan, it takes between 45 minutes and 2 hours to feel the drug’s full effects.  After that, it typically takes 20 to 100 hours for the drug to leave a person’s system.

Ativan Effects and Abuse

Because Ativan is legal to use with a prescription, some people may not realize they’re abusing the drug.  Taking more significant amounts of Ativan than prescribed, taking medicine more often than prescribed, and taking the medication for longer than prescribed are considered abuse.  Using Ativan without a prescription to achieve a high is also abuse.

Ativan helps balance chemicals in the brain that can cause anxiety.  When taken in substantial doses, it binds to particular receptors in the brain to produce a fleeting, intense high, followed by a prolonged state of calm.  The effects of Ativan include:

  • A Sense of Calm
  • Muscle Relaxation
  • Drowsiness

When combined with other substances, like alcohol, the relaxing effects of Ativan are even more substantial.  In addition, because Ativan is very potent and can seem harmless as a prescription drug, it is a prime candidate for both accidental and intentional abuse, as well as an accidental overdose. 

Signs of Overdose

  • Mental Confusion
  • Slurred Speech
  • Lack of Energy
  • Loss of Control of Body Movements
  • Muscle Weakness
  • Low Blood Pressure
  • Slow Breathing
  • Passing Out
  • Coma

Common Ativan Drug Combinations

Ativan is often abused alongside other drugs to enhance its sedative effects. Common drug combinations with benzos include:

  • Cocaine:  Ativan can counteract the stimulant effects of cocaine, helping users come down from the high.
  • Amphetamines:  Amphetamines are “uppers” like cocaine, so that they may be used alongside them for the same reasons.
  • Methadone:  Many people will take benzos to boost the effects of the painkiller methadone.  However, it is hazardous to mix Ativan, a central nervous system depressant, with other central nervous system depressants like Methadone because of the potential of fatal overdose due to respiratory failure.
  • Alcohol:  When combined, benzos and alcohol produce a quick, potent high—mixing the two increases central nervous system depression, leading to over-sedation, respiratory failure, coma, and even death.

Taking Ativan in combination with other drugs is very dangerous as it increases the risk of overdose.  In some cases, excessive sedation from mixing drugs can lead to unconsciousness, coma, or death.

Warnings

  • You should not use benzos if you have Narrow-Angle Glaucoma, Severe Respiratory Insufficiency, Myasthenia Gravis, or are allergic to Valium or a similar medication.
  • Do not use benzos if you are pregnant. Lorazepam can cause congenital disabilities or life-threatening withdrawal symptoms in a newborn.
  • Misuse of habit-forming medicine can cause addiction, overdose, or death. Keep the medication in a secure place where others cannot get to it.

Fatal side effects can occur if you take lorazepam with alcohol, opioid medications, or other drugs that cause drowsiness or slow your breathing.

What Are Possible Side Effects Of Lorazepam?

Serious Side Effects

  • Shortness of breath, trouble to speak, feeling very tired, dizziness or passing out.
  • Increased heart rate, headache, memory impairment, irritability, restlessness
  • Some clients are taking benzodiazepines to develop a severe allergic reaction and swelling of the face.  This can occur as early as with the first dose.
  • Some people taking benzodiazepines for sleep have experienced various behaviors while asleep/not fully awake, such as sleep-driving, making phone calls, and preparing or eating food.  The individuals have no memory of the events when they awaken.
  • Signs of feeling depressed or low mood, thoughts of harming or killing yourself, or lacking interest in life.

Common Side Effects

  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Fatigue
  • Impaired coordination, decreased ability to concentrate
  • Dry Mouth
  • Changes in Appetite
  • Headache

If you experience these side effects after starting lorazepam, they will often improve over the first week or two as you continue to take the medication.

What Happens If I Miss A Dose?

Take medicine as soon as possible, but skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next dose.  Do not take two doses at one time.

What To Avoid While Taking Ativan as Prescribed

  • Avoid drinking alcohol. Dangerous side effects or death could occur.
  • Avoid driving or hazardous activity until you know how this medicine will affect you.  Dizziness or drowsiness can cause falls, accidents, or severe injuries.

Ativan Addiction Treatment

Depending on your situation and needs, seeking a support group or additional individual counseling can provide the necessary tools to stay sober.  If you or someone you love is struggling with an Ativan addiction, get in touch with a dedicated treatment provider to get help finding treatment.

We Level Up Treatment Center provides world-class care with round-the-clock medical professionals available to help you cope.  We work as an integrated team providing support information about what is Ativan and other aspects of treatment.  Make this your opportunity to reclaim your life.  Call today to speak with one of our treatment specialists.  Our counselors know what you are going through and will answer any of your questions.

Your call is private and confidential, and there is never any obligation.