Ativan Addiction and Abuse

Ativan is one of the most widely prescribed benzodiazepines in the market today even though it is highly addictive.

Lorazepam addiction | Table of Contents

Understanding Ativan (Lorazepam)

Ativan is the trademark name for Lorazepam. Ativan is a-long-acting benzo prescribed to treat anxiety disorders, as well as certain forms of epilepsy and insomnia. Due to its highly addictive component, doctors rarely prescribe it for over four months. Ativan is one of the most potent benzos currently available in the US market today. Although doctors prescribe the drug for short-term treatment of anxiety, depression, and panic attacks, the long-term effectiveness of the drug is yet unknown. Ativan is also used to help alleviate and reduce severe withdrawal symptoms during alcohol detoxification.

Blocking the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and slowing down hyperactive mental processes are the primary functions of this drug. A Quick-dissolve tablet is the standard form of this medication, but the colorless, concentrated liquid is also now available in the US. Oral use is the most commonly prescribed intake method of Ativan. While the Intravenous (IV drip) procedure requires assistance by medical experts’; the potentiality for misusing this drug is relatively high with this intake method.

Although it takes anywhere between forty-five minutes to two hours to feel the desired effects of the drug, it generally takes about 20-100 hours in comparison for Ativan to leave the user’s body completely. This could even take longer for some individuals, depending on the duration and dose consumed.


What does Ativan do?

This medication is employed primarily to treat anxiety. Lorazepam falls into a class of drugs known as benzodiazepines that act on the brain and nerves to generate a calming effect. The drug works by stimulating the effects of a certain natural chemical in the body named GABA.

How does Ativan make you feel?

If a person takes a high dose of Ativan and does not undergo any form of anxiety or depression, the euphoric sensation of the drug in this user can peak within 30-60 minutes of use. This high can last anywhere between 5-8 hours, and the individual will experience feelings of an amplified sedation effect.

Ativan Addiction

Ativan is one of the most potent benzodiazepines that many users misuse due to its highly addictive features. This drug goes by many street names, such as benzos, goofballs, stupefy, and heavenly balls. All of which suggests the addictive nature of the drug. Ativan is different when compared to other addictive medications. Most addictive drugs come with a safe duration of usage, meaning those medications don’t cause physical dependence when only used as prescribed (a few days to weeks). However, Ativan can cause physical and psychological dependence even with short-term usage. Individuals with a history of SUDs and mental health disorders that are left untreated are at a higher risk of getting addicted to this potent drug. Ativan is considered to be one of the most misused drug classes in the US.

People with an addiction to Ativan may experience severe cravings that could easily turn to dependence, even after the drug has completely cured their anxiety disorder.

Side effects of Ativan misuse can lead to severe personal and professional issues:

  • Issues with friends or family.
  • Getting into hazardous situations.
  • Losing interest in hobbies and activities that once made you happy.
  • Social isolation.
  • Failing to follow through with school, home, or general day-to-day work.
  • Financial issues.

Physical dependence is severe in Ativan users as they require more and more pills to achieve the desired effects. Drug tolerance is the medical term for this occurrence. Many people who misuse Ativan know that they have a severe addiction to the drug. Unfortunately, adverse withdrawal symptoms make it harder for them to quit. When compared to other addictive medications, the withdrawal symptoms caused by Ativan are much severe. Individuals who have misused Ativan in large doses for an extended period require a comprehensive treatment plan with medically-assisted detox, therapy, and rehab. Treatment centers can help individuals who misuse this potent drug, no matter how severe their addiction may be.


How long does it take for Ativan 1mg to kick in?

Lorazepam tablets and liquid start to work in about 20 to 30 minutes. They reach their optimal sedating effect after 1 to 1.5 hours and last approximately 6 to 8 hours. Lorazepam injection works much faster, yet it also lasts about 6 to 8 hours.

What symptoms does Ativan help with?

When taken as recommended under the supervision of a physician, Ativan may help In reducing many of the common symptoms of anxiety, including irrational fears, panic attacks, sleeplessness, agitation, and restlessness. In addition to treating anxiety, Ativan is also prescribed for seizures, spasms, alcohol withdrawal, or insomnia.

Ativan Effects and Abuse

The legal prescription of Ativan makes it difficult for the user to realize that they are misusing the drug. An individual can misuse Ativan in many ways, which may include:

  • Taking the drug in larger doses than prescribed.
  • Using the medicine more frequently than prescribed.
  • Taking Ativan longer than the prescription.
  • Using Ativan without a prescription.
  • Meeting the doctor for a prescription without real health disorders (doctor shopping).

Ativan balances the chemicals in the brain that generally cause anxiety. In larger doses, this drug binds itself to the brain’s special receptors and produces an intense high with a feeling of prolonged calmness. The common effects of Ativan in users include:

  • A euphoric high
  • A sense of calm
  • Drowsiness
  • Muscle relaxation

The effects of Ativan get stronger when combined with other substances, such as alcohol and other addictive medications/drugs. The intense high achieved by this potent drug can cause users to misuse Ativan accidentally or intentionally. No matter the reason, adverse side effects are a guaranteed outcome of this questionable habit. The overdose of Ativan is most common when other substances such as alcohol, drugs, or other prescription drugs are also involved.

Signs of an Ativan Overdose:

  • Mental confusion
  • Slurred speech
  • Coma
  • Muscle weakness
  • Low blood pressure
  • Lack of energy
  • Slow breathing
  • Loss of control of body movements
  • Passing out

Side effects can be even fatal in cases of severe overdosing when the drug was used along with other addictive substances/medications.


What are the side effects of Ativan?

Some of the common side effects of Ativan use are: drowsiness, dizziness, tiredness, muscle weakness, headache, blurred vision, insomnia, and loss of balance or coordination.

Does Ativan make you sleepy?

Yes, Ativan can cause drowsiness. But, taking Ativan and Ambien together can make you feel even more tired or drowsy, as both of them are used to help promote sleep.

How long does it take Ativan to peak?

When consumed orally, Ativan is absorbed gradually and is perceived to have an intermediate onset of action (between 15 and 30 minutes for most people) as compared to other benzodiazepines. In most individuals, an oral dose of Ativan will reach its optimum effects within two hours.

Dangers of Ativan

Ativan must only be used under the supervision of a medical expert or a doctor, and patients must follow strict instructions as prescribed. Highly-addictive features of the drug make it dangerous for some individuals; hence, why doctors prescribe this medication only for short-term use. Physical and psychological dependence is pretty common when Ativan is used for longer than prescribed.

Most adverse side effects of Ativan occur when the user mixes the drug with other substances or takes the drug in high doses. Side effects may worsen when the drug is consumed with other central nervous system depressants.

Adverse side effects of this drug include:

  • Respiratory depression
  • Memory impairment
  • Excessive sedation
  • Tremors
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Seizures

The prolonged use of Ativan can lead to changes in brain function. Many studies have proven that long-term benzodiazepine use causes cognitive impairment. The cognitive dysfunction caused by Avitan may heal with time in some patients, but a few patients may never achieve a full recovery.


How bad is Ativan for you?

Although Ativan use does not generally result in severe suppression of the respiratory or cardiovascular systems, a fatal overdose can transpire when the drug is combined with other central nervous system depressants.

Common Ativan Drug Combinations

Individuals often misuse Ativan along with other addictive drugs to enhance the sedative effects. Combining Ativan with other drugs may counteract or enhance its effects.

Common drug combinations with Ativan include:


Ativan lessens the stimulant effects of cocaine, helping the user come down from their intense high.


This substance also acts very similarly to cocaine. Therefore, the user may take Ativan to come down from the intense high caused by Amphetamines.


Many patients combine Ativan with Methadone to enhance the pain-relieving effects of Methadone. The combination of these two potent drugs can end with fatal conditions, such as total respiratory failure. Both medications are potent central nervous system depressants.


The combination of alcohol and Ativan can cause a sudden, intense high. This combination is extremely powerful; increased CNS depression can even cause coma, over-sedation, respiratory failure, and death.

Combining Ativan with other CNS depressants is fatal as overdose, and side effects can be intense to the point where the excess sedation caused by the combined effects of two drugs can even lead to coma, unconsciousness, or death.

Ativan Misuse Statistics

  • 50K people: A surprising number of 50k people ended up in the emergency room due to side effects caused by Ativan complications.
  • 95 percent: 95 out of every hundred patients who visited hospitals for benzodiazepine misuse also misused one or more other addictive substances.
  • 27 million: Doctors prescribed Ativan over 27 million times in the US in 2011.

Signs of Ativan (Lorazepam) Misuse

Unfortunately, some individuals can become dependent on Ativan, even if they adhere to their doctor’s recommendations. An individual who is physically dependent on the drug develop a tolerance to it and require the drug to perform normally in day-to-day life. As a consequence, they experience emotional and physical discomfort if they stop consumption suddenly without any medical support. This physical and emotional discomfort are all symptoms of withdrawal.

“Individuals intoxicated with Ativan are much similar to AUD patients intoxicated with alcohol. Ataxia, slurred speech, and impaired physical coordination are the prominent symptoms seen in those individuals.”

-Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Signs of Ativan misuse include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Over-sleeping
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Tremors
  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Sweating
  • Dizziness
  • Lack of participation in day-to-day activities
  • Isolation
  • Lying about Ativan use
  • Using the drug as a coping technique
  • Passing out
  • “Doctor shopping” to get extra prescriptions for no real health-related reason
  • Legal problems

Recognizing Ativan Addiction

Like with most prescription medications, recognizing an addiction to Ativan is difficult. Some individuals misuse the drug illegally, while others do it through prescriptions. By the time the person’s questionable habit is revealed, it may already be too late. Ativan may have already caused many impairments by then.

The physical dependence on Ativan can happen within a few days/weeks. This dependence can occur even if the patient uses the drug according to the prescription. Anxiety and nausea are clear signs of physical dependence on Ativan. Physical dependence also may lead to drug tolerance. Resulting in the requirement of higher and higher dosage to achieve the desired effect.

A developed craving for the drug is the first sign of psychological dependence. Cravings can occur while the patient is using the drug or after stopping the drug. Consumption of the drug despite the negative effects of the drug is a clear sign of addiction.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) helps experts diagnose SUDs and other forms of addictions. DSM outlines eleven criteria to help characterize addiction. The number of criteria that the individual meets determines the severity of the addiction (mild, moderate, or severe).


How much of the drug consumption leads to addiction?

Dosage isnt the only factor to consider. The length of use is the primary factor that usually leads to physical tolerance. Even a minor dosage can lead to an addiction if the patient continues the drug for a long time.

What is the easiest way to recognize Ativan addiction?

Warning signs and symptoms are a great way to recognize addiction.

What is the right time for medical care?

Using Ativan for 4-6 weeks increases the risk of developing tolerance and addiction. Discuss your treatment and medication with your doctor before you start your prescription. If you have already experienced withdrawal symptoms and tolerance, meeting a treatment specialist ASAP is highly advisable. Early treatments can minimize physical and mental health disorders caused by Ativan.

How quickly can withdrawal symptoms occur?

Early withdrawal symptoms can start within 6-12 hours since the last dose.

What is the duration of Ativan Withdrawal?

The duration highly varies from person to person. Withdrawal symptoms can last for 5-15 days. Some individuals may experience minor withdrawal symptoms even after this general period.

Intervention for Ativan Addiction

Staging an intervention can be the first step in the journey to recovery. The majority of individuals who misuse Ativan are quite aware of their dependence on the drug but are unable to admit the problem. During such instances, you may require an intervention specialist.

Correctly planning and timing an intervention, rehearsing what you wish to say, and including other family members or friends of the patient may result in a more favorable outcome.

What is Ativan Withdrawal?

Individuals who are addicted to Ativan will experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop the consumption of the drug or rapidly decrease their dosage. Even users who follow a prescription and only take the recommended dosage may experience withdrawal symptoms. Cases have been reported of users forming a physical dependence on Ativan in as little as a week.

Withdrawal symptoms appear only when one’s body becomes reliant on Ativan to function as usual. An individual’s brain, nervous system, and organs must all go through a period of restoration as they start to relearn to function properly without the drug. During this period, one may go through varying levels of physical and psychological discomfort in the form of withdrawal symptoms. The effect and duration of these symptoms will depend on the amount of drug consumed and the length at which it was taken, along with a few other factors such as medical history and the presence of co-occurring mental health disorders.

Symptoms of Withdrawal

Doctors recommend gradually reducing the consumption of Ativan rather than abruptly quitting the drug, as this can lead to dangerous and severe withdrawal symptoms. Benzodiazepine withdrawal can be categorized into two stages, such as acute withdrawal and protracted withdrawal. Acute withdrawal, which is generally referred to as “withdrawal,” includes both physical and psychological symptoms.

Below mentioned are some common acute withdrawal symptoms:

  • Cravings
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Hand tremors
  • Sweating
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Confusion
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain or stiffness
  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings
  • Blood pressure changes
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Palpitations
  • Weight loss
  • Panic attacks

Medically-supervised detox is strongly advised for users in order to prevent dangerous withdrawal symptoms and to help reduce the risk of negative and rare side effects such as hallucinations.

Protracted withdrawal, also referred to as post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS), typically takes on the appearance of psychological withdrawal symptoms once the acute withdrawal stage is over. However, not all users experience protracted withdrawal.

Below mentioned are some common Ativan PAWS symptoms:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression or dysphoria
  • Cravings
  • Sleep difficulties
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Reduced interest or lack of initiative
  • Inability to feel pleasure
  • Constantly feeling tired
  • Obsessive-compulsive tendencies
  • Memory problems

Rebound Anxiety and Insomnia

Rebound symptoms are generally common during Ativan withdrawal. These symptoms are the temporary, amplified return of symptoms, like anxiety or insomnia, that pushed the individual to consume Ativan in the first place. Rebound anxiety and rebound insomnia generally occur 2-3 days after the acute withdrawal phase of detox are over. Most users relapse during this period as they find it challenging to handle these symptoms. Reports state that approximately 10-35% of users who detox from Ativan will experience rebound effects. Gradually reducing Ativan may help to manage rebound symptoms until alternative treatment is recommended.

Duration of Withdrawal

The duration of Ativan withdrawal varies from user to user. Generally, those who consume higher doses of Ativan use the drug more frequently and use it for extended periods, resulting in prolonged and more severe withdrawal.

Ativan generally stays in a persons system for an average of 12 hours. Acute withdrawal from Ativan consumption usually begins within 10 to 24 hours after the last dosage. This time frame may vary from addict to addict.

Severe withdrawal symptoms usually last 10 to 14 days and gradually reduces over the following couple of weeks. In more severe cases, withdrawal symptoms may even last for several months. There is no fixed period for Ativan protracted withdrawal due to its lack of research. Some individuals have stated that they have experienced symptoms for a few months, while others have had symptoms for up to two years. The psychological impact of protracted withdrawal can make recovering addicts, at times, feel as if their current life is no longer elated as it was when they used to consume the drug. It is vital to address protracted withdrawal symptoms in recovery to prevent any potential relapse.

There is currently no medication that is specifically approved for Ativan withdrawal treatment, but that doesnt mean there are no treatment options available.

Ativan Detox

There are a lot more treatment options available to help lessen the symptoms of withdrawal during medical detox, especially during the Ativan withdrawal peak. A medical team will be present at all times to monitor the entire detox process as well as provide necessary medical interventions to avoid life-threatening situations. During this phase of detox, patients are provided with treatment for co-occurring disorders. In some cases, natural herbal remedies or supplements are used to assist the process of withdrawal from Ativan.

Individuals struggling with Ativan addiction must be aware that these treatments or remedies cannot be merely carried out at home by themselves. These treatments must be administered in the proper setting with the right medical supervision.

Even when it comes to gradually reducing Ativan consumption, users are advised to carry out the process under the supervision of medical professionals. Only a physician or medical specialist can determine the right amount of Ativan to start the process with and then how to gradually move on to a reduced dosage throughout the detox process. Individuals addicted to Ativan and other benzodiazepines usually gain many advantages from medically-assisted detox. The detox process is made more smooth and comfortable by reducing the Ativan withdrawal symptoms with the help of medication. A medical professional may also prescribe a less potent benzodiazepine with an extended half-life to help the user wean off Ativan gradually. This process of gradually reducing dosage may take anywhere from several weeks to several months.

Ativan (Lorazepam) Addiction Treatment

Overcoming addiction to this potent drug can be tricky and difficult. Individuals find it harder to overcome their addiction as intense withdrawal symptoms and dependence keep them attached to the drug. A long-term comprehensive treatment option that involves medical detox, support system, and treatment program can help patients battle their addiction successfully. Any patient who wishes to quit Ativan should meet a medical expert first and determine their condition in detail. The treatment expert can perform a substance misuse evaluation and choose the right treatment method accordingly.

Medically-assisted detox helps patients quit Ativan with minimal withdrawal symptoms and discomfort. Medical detox by a treatment specialist can make the process more successful and less painful for the patient. Detox is the initial step of treatment in most cases. Outpatient treatment centers in the US also offer medical detox.

There may be an underlying reason as to why patients misuse Ativan. Inpatient and outpatient treatment experts address those emotional reasons as well. Support groups and ongoing therapy are available for patients who struggle to maintain their Ativan-free life. The chance for a full recovery through treatment options is immensely high, while a comprehensive support system remains priceless during the early stages of severe withdrawal symptoms and long-term recovery.

Ativan-Specific Levels of Care

Finding a medical team or a treatment center that can treat Ativan addiction is crucial. The treatment team must be comprised of staff experienced in this form of addiction. Many treatment centers across the US offer comprehensive treatment options for Ativan addiction.

Factors to consider when choosing the right treatment center:

  • Do they provide medically-assisted inpatient or outpatient detox?
  • What is the length of treatment?
  • How much do they charge?

A full-service treatment center can help you with polydrug use and other mental and physical health disorders. This is vital for those suffering from co-occurring disorders.

Inpatient Rehab for Ativan Addiction

This is the best choice for patients with a severe addiction to Ativan. Flushing the body through detox may not be enough for these individuals. They require long-term support and a controlled environment to maintain sobriety without relapse. A controlled environment can help increase the chance of a full recovery to a greater extent. Inpatient treatment centers can also keep patients away from impulses by keeping them within the controlled environment. As a result, help patients focus on their full recovery without any added distractions.

Inpatient treatments generally last from 28 days to 90 days. The duration of the therapy dramatically varies depending on the patient and their condition. The progress of treatment also may increase or decrease the duration of treatment.

Starting the treatment process with a medical detox allows the patient to taper down the dose without experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms. This process begins with patients taking smaller doses of Ativan over a few weeks. Some treatment centers give long-acting benzodiazepine to alleviate withdrawal symptoms. Valium is a top choice for such long-acting benzodiazepines.

Attending therapy, support groups, and meetings are the other elements of inpatient treatment. The patients also take part in recreational activities to improve healing. Some inpatient treatment centers adhere to a very structured daily schedule, and other centers may offer customized treatments for individual patients.

Physical and psychological aspects of the addiction and withdrawal require simultaneous treatments. Helping the patient overcome physical dependence is the primary aim of medical detox. Apart from assisting patients to overcome physical dependence, treatment centers must focus on psychological dependence as well.

Therapies offered in both treatment center classes include:

  • Group counseling
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Holistic therapy
  • One-on-one counseling
  • Experiential therapy (art therapy, equine therapy, etc.)
  • 12-step programs

No matter the treatment type, inpatient or outpatient, there’s no such thing called one treatment for all. The right or effective treatment for Ativan addiction varies from person to person and their individual needs.

Outpatient Treatment and Relapse Prevention Strategies

Outpatient treatment centers are a handy choice for patients with mild to moderate addictions to Ativan. For those unable to spend time in inpatient treatment centers, outpatient treatment provides an alternative solution.

The outpatient center provides the patient with the opportunity to receive his/her day’s treatment and return home. Many types of outpatient treatment options are currently available in the US: such as IOP, PHP, and OP. PHP treatment can last from 3-8 hours a day. IOP treatment lasts for a maximum of three hours a day. OP treatment plan lasts for 1-2 hours per week. It is vital to discuss your options with a medical expert before making a choice.

There are many similarities between inpatient and outpatient detox. Medical detox is one such treatment found in both types of centers. However, ongoing or long-term treatment has a proven track record of helping patients maintain their Ativan-free life in the long run. Support groups and therapy play a vital part in recovery as they help patients spend time with like-minded people who provide support through experience and help each other maintain an Ativan-free life.

Tips for Avoiding Relapse Include

Join a Support Group

There are many successful and proven support groups currently found in the US. Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are two such support groups. Alternatives are also available for 12-step programs. For example, SMART Recovery helps patients cope with co-occurring disorders.

Have a Support System

Support groups are a vital part of long-term recovery. They can be comprised of family, friends, and even medical experts who are committed to helping you through addiction.

Know Your Triggers and Avoid Them

Recognize and understand your impulses and triggers. Avoid habits and situations that led you to this addiction. Keep away from toxic individuals and addictive substances such as alcohol.

Stay Away from People who Misuse Drugs

These individuals may be your friends, family, or even co-workers. Make your recovery your priority and avoid association with individuals you misused drugs with in the past.

Talk to a Counsellor

Counsellors and therapists can help you manage cravings, address underlying emotional and mental issues, and stress. It is vital to acknowledge and address any psychological and physical disorders that led you to Ativan addiction.

Stick to a Schedule

Performing your daily tasks according to schedule keeps your mind occupied throughout the day and help you avoid emotional triggers.

Take Care of Your Body

A healthy body leads to a healthy mind. Sleep well, eat healthy, exercise, and try meditation or Yoga.

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