Table of Contents
What is Ativan?
Ativan is the brand name for a drug known generically as Lorazepam. Lorazepam is a type of benzodiazepine, a class of drugs known for their dampening effect on the central nervous system. By making certain nerve cells in the brain less sensitive to stimulation, benzodiazepines like Valium and Xanax produce a calming effect in their users. Benzodiazepines, and specifically Ativan, are commonly prescribed to treat anxiety and panic disorders. It is also used to treat insomnia, and it is sometimes administered before surgery to put the patient to sleep.
Ativan (Lorazepam) is quite potent. Patients should always take it as prescribed, and usually for only 4 weeks at the most. Patients should never take doses too close to each other to make up for a missed dose. Likewise, patients should take the missed dose as soon as they realize it, resetting their dose schedule. Ativan’s side effects include drowsiness, dizziness, or weakness.
Ativan Abuse and Overdoses
If an individual chooses to take more than their prescribed dose of Lorazepam, or more often than they should, or without a prescription, then they are abusing Ativan. This can lead to an overdose. The following is a list of serious side effects of Lorazepam; if you experience one or more of these symptoms while taking the drug, or if you see them present in someone else who is, dial 9-1-1 immediately, as they may be signs of an overdose. They are:
- Slurred speech
- Extreme lack of energy
- Passing out
- Low blood pressure
- Slow breathing (hypoventilation)
Again, always take Ativan as prescribed. Never combine Ativan with another benzodiazepine, or with alcohol. This can cause serious side effects or even kill you.
How do People become addicted to Ativan?
Ativan clings to certain nerve receptors in the brain known as GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid) receptors. By clinging to these receptors, they slow down the signals that those receptors receive. Over time, the body develops a tolerance to the drug, and thus the individual requires a higher dose to get the desired effect. In adapting to the presence of the drug, the body can become dependent.
Symptoms of Ativan Addiction
Users addicted to Ativan may experience one or more significant symptoms, such as:
When dependent on Ativan, users may lose interest in normal activities, such as school or work. They will sometimes lie to hide their addiction, steal money to support it, get in trouble with the police, perform poorly at work, or have problems in their interpersonal relationships. Approaching a person with an addiction requires a measure of tact; you want the individual to open up to you about what they are going through so that you can help them. Those who have a friend or family member close enough to notice the problem are lucky.
Ativan Withdrawal Symptoms
As the user comes off of an Ativan prescription (or addiction), he or she may experience one or more of the following symptoms after 24 hours:
Depersonalization is the feeling of being present in one’s body while not fully in control of it; almost as if the individual is a passive observer rather than a participant in life.
Derealization is a state in which the individual does not believe that the people or world around them is real.
Not everyone will experience all of these symptoms. The more serious symptoms tend to be found in those coming off of higher doses, or those with an addiction. Some of these symptoms are very serious and require immediate medical intervention.
Phases of Ativan Withdrawal
Given Ativan’s potency, users can begin to notice withdrawal symptoms within 24 hours of taking the last dose. Normally the acute symptoms will peak within 3 to 4 days. This is the most dangerous phase of withdrawal, where the symptoms will be at their strongest. After that, they will subside over a period of two weeks or so. A recovery period of another two weeks will follow. Again, these numbers vary with the dosage, and the individual’s constitution.
Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome
After recovering from acute withdrawal, former Ativan users will sometimes complain of ongoing psychological challenges, such as anxiety, depression, mood swings, and other problems. This is sometimes referred to as Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (or PAWS). For many individuals who develop such long-term issues, they often don’t go away completely. However, they can be mitigated through a program designed to address them. If the program is effective, former Ativan users can develop a sustained functionality, and a measure of peace.
The Right Way to End Ativan Addiction
For an individual to end their dependence on Ativan, they stand their best chance by consulting the help of an addiction treatment specialist. A doctor with a background in helping individuals end addiction will know how to assess the situation and find a tailored solution. Not every solution works for every patient. But there are some common strategies that are highly effective.
To avoid the more serious symptoms associated with acute withdrawal, your doctor may be able to taper your dosage each day until it gradually reduces to zero. This enables your body to avoid the shock that withdrawal causes the nervous system. By stretching the reduction of your dose over time, it enables your body to recalibrate itself. This method is common, and highly effective.
Many treatment centers enable users to live on-site for the duration of withdrawal. While some find it extreme, such oversight enables the health care providers to control most of the variables that might affect the patient’s chance for a successful recovery. The most critical of these variables is the patient’s access to the drug. However, the physician in charge can also reduce or eliminate the sources of stress that may make the recovering user want to turn to Ativan for relief.
Patients who continue to experience psychological challenges after completing withdrawal often find it beneficial to attend group counseling sessions, either indefinitely or until they are able to develop strategies for coping with their ongoing symptoms. To be effective, these sessions must be moderated by someone who has a thorough understanding of the consequences of addiction, and the training necessary to help attendees through their darkest hours. Without such training, the participant’s situation may never improve. In a perfect world, such professionals take great joy in helping people recover and return to normal life.
Orange County, CA Ativan Addiction Treatment
If you are struggling with symptoms as a result of taking Ativan, or if you know someone who does, call our office and set up an appointment. Dr. B has been helping the good people of Orange County overcome the nightmarish symptoms of Ativan addiction for years. We’ve seen all manner of cases, from mild to severe, and we have access to the full range of treatment modalities. We may not know you, but we care deeply about your plight and have devoted our lives to helping people just like you to overcome this problem. Give us a chance to help, and I am confident we will help you find peace.
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