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Ativan Addiction and Treatment

Ativan, like all benzodiazepines, is highly addictive and dangerous when misused. Learning the effects, abuse, and treatment for Ativan addiction can help those suffering get on the path toward recovery.

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Ativan Addiction

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What Is Ativan

Ativan is the trade name for the generic drug lorazepam, which is a benzodiazepine. These drugs act on the brain and nervous system to produce a calming effect. Ativan works by enhancing the effects of certain natural chemicals in the body.
Other benzodiazepines include diazepam, clonazepam, oxazepam, and nitrazepam, and are prescribed by doctors for a range of uses. As one of the most potent benzodiazepines, Ativan is known for its potentially dangerous side-effects and addiction. It is also known for severe issues stemming from withdrawal.

Uses of Ativan

Doctors prescribe Ativan to treat a range of issues, including:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Sleeping difficulties
  • Actives seizures (including status epilepticus)
  • Alcohol withdrawal
  • Chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting
It may also be used as a sedative before surgery or operative dental treatment. Before you take Ativan, you should note that it is not suitable if you suffer from any of the following issues:
  • Allergic to lorazepam or other benzodiazepines
  • Severe breathing or chest problems
  • Diagnosed with myasthenia gravis
  • Serious liver problems
  • Diagnosed with sleep apnea
It is important to speak to your doctor or pharmacist about precautions before taking Ativan if you are experiencing any of the below:
  • Pregnant or trying to become pregnant
  • History of substance abuse
  • Diagnosed with a personality disorder
  • Elderly or debilitated
  • Suffer from breathing problems, kidney or liver problems, or glaucoma
  • History of depression or suicidal feelings
  • Currently taking other medications or substances

Side-Effects of Ativan

As with other benzodiazepines, most adverse reactions when taking Ativan are dose-dependent. The most severe side-effects occur following higher-than-recommended doses.

According to a study by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) involving 3,500 patients treated for anxiety, Ativan’s most frequent adverse reaction was sedation. This was followed by dizziness, weakness, and unsteadiness. The study also noted that incidences of sedation and unsteadiness increased with age

In addition to sedation, dizziness, weakness, and unsteadiness, the Ativan side-effects include:
  • Amnesia
  • Memory impairment
  • Confusion/Disorientation
  • Depression/Unmasking of depression
  • Suicidal ideation/attempt
  • Convulsions/Seizures
  • Vertigo
  • Impotence
  • Jaundice
  • Worsening of sleep
  • Coma
  • Overdose

Ativan Addiction and Dependence

Like many drugs, including benzodiazepines, Ativan can cause physical dependence. Due to its higher potency than many other benzodiazepines, Ativan may result in individuals developing tolerance faster than with other lower-potency drugs.
As tolerance to benzodiazepines builds, Ativan’s beneficial effects will begin to diminish after several weeks of use. Abuse potential with Ativan is high, especially in patients with a history of drug or alcohol abuse.
Dependence on Ativan may lead to withdrawal symptoms, particularly if treatment is discontinued abruptly. Ativan should always be discontinued gradually. Due to the possibility of dependence following prolonged use, Ativan is generally prescribed for short courses. Prescriptions are often for no more than four weeks. A dose reduction at the end of treatment reduces the risk of dependency.

Ativan Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal symptoms often accompany the abrupt termination of Ativan treatment. Such symptoms can appear following cessation of recommended doses after as little as one week of therapy. Among these symptoms include:
  • Headaches
  • Anxiety
  • Tension
  • Vertigo
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Restlessness
  • Convulsions/Seizures
  • Confusion
  • Irritability
  • Sweating
  • Depersonalization
  • Involuntary movements
  • Nausea/Vomiting/Diarrhea
  • Hallucinations/Delirium
  • Short-term memory loss

Ativan Overdose Risks

Each year, drug overdoses kill more people in the United States than HIV/AIDS, homicide, and firearms. For people between the age of 35 and 54, it is the leading cause of death related to an injury. As a potent benzodiazepine, Ativan is a drug that may cause an accidental overdose that could be fatal. Risks are increased when combined with other drugs or alcohol.

Ativan Treatment

The FDA has not yet approved any medication for the treatment of addiction to Ativan or other benzodiazepines. However, there are many treatments that have been proven to help. These treatments include therapy, rehab, support groups, and medically-assisted detox.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a popular and effective method of treatment of substance abuse. It has been specifically shown to help with recovery from benzodiazepine abuse. CBT is a goal-orientated psychotherapy treatment. It takes a hands-on, practical approach to problem-solving.
CBT aims to change thinking patterns or behavior behind people’s difficulties in changing the way they feel ultimately. CBT helps treat a wide range of issues in a person’s life, from sleeping difficulties or relationship problems to drug and alcohol abuse or anxiety and depression.
The therapy works by changing people’s attitudes and behavior by focusing on the thoughts, images, beliefs, and attitudes, and their relation to how they deal with emotional problems.

Twelve-Step Programs

Twelve-step programs are a popular method to address substance abuse, including Ativan.

Twelve-step facilitation therapy is an active engagement strategy designed to increase the likelihood of a substance abuser becoming affiliated with and actively involved in 12-step self-help groups, promoting abstinence.

Three key ideas in twelve-step programs:
Realizing that drug addiction is a chronic and progressive disease over which one has no control.
Giving over to a higher power and accepting the fellowship and support structure of other recovering individuals.
Engage in active involvement and related activities in twelve-step meetings.

Additional Treatments

In addition to cognitive behavioral therapy and twelve-step programs, a wide range of support structures and activities are open to recovering individuals. These include:
  • Family therapy
  • Meditation
  • Art therapy
  • Physical training
  • Animal-assisted therapy
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Massage

Breaking Free from Ativan

Finding the right facility to treat your Ativan addiction is important. Making sure you detox under the proper medical supervision and have the right treatment options and environment greatly increases your chances of breaking free from addiction. 

Our treatment navigators are here to help with any questions your have. You are not alone, and people are here to help. Call us today and get on the path toward recovery.

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