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  • Ativan (Lorazepam) Abuse & Addiction | Side Effects, Withdrawal Symptoms, & Treatment Options

    Many people take Ativan to treat anxiety, seizures, or insomnia. Some doctors also use it to help patients cope with alcohol withdrawal symptoms, which can include anxiety and seizures.

    Unfortunately, when it’s taken for a long time or in a manner not prescribed, Ativan can lead to addiction. If you or a loved one struggles with Ativan addiction, it’s important to seek help from a substance abuse treatment program

    What Is Ativan?

    Ativan is the brand name for a medication called lorazepam. It belongs to a class of prescription drugs called benzodiazepines (also known as “benzos”). 

    Benzodiazepines, which include other popular medications like Xanax and Klonopin, are central nervous system depressants. They work by enhancing the activity of a brain chemical called gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA relaxes the muscles and calms the mind. 

    The calming effect of Ativan can work well for people who have insomnia, seizures, or mental illnesses like anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. 

    Most doctors only prescribe Ativan for short-term or occasional use (such as during a panic attack). That’s because people who take it frequently or for a long time face a higher risk of addiction.

    Side Effects Of Ativan

    Like all prescription medications, Ativan may cause side effects. The most common side effects of Ativan include:

    • drowsiness
    • dizziness
    • dry mouth
    • muscle weakness
    • memory problems
    • loss of appetite
    • nausea
    • diarrhea or constipation
    • frequent urination or trouble urinating 
    • blurred vision
    • changes in sexual ability or drive

    Ativan can also cause more dangerous side effects such as trouble breathing, trouble swallowing, memory loss, and irregular heartbeat. If you experience these or other unusual symptoms, contact your doctor.

    Learn more about Ativan Side Effects

    Ativan Abuse

    Along with calming you down, Ativan can make you feel euphoric or “high.” That’s why some people abuse it.

    Ativan abuse occurs when you take the drug in a manner not prescribed. For example, you may:

    • take higher doses than prescribed
    • take it more frequently than prescribed
    • take it for a longer period than prescribed
    • take it with other drugs, such as alcohol or opioids
    • crush the pills and snort them
    • take it without a prescription

    Ativan Addiction

    Over time, Ativan abuse can lead to addiction, also called substance use disorder (SUD). When you’re addicted, it’s extremely difficult to stop using the medication. Addiction can also occur if your doctor prescribes Ativan for long-term use or at high doses. 

    Signs Of Ativan Addiction

    If you’re concerned that you or someone you know is abusing or addicted to Ativan, look for the following signs:

    • withdrawing from friends and family members to spend more time getting and using the drug
    • developing a tolerance to the drug (needing higher and higher doses to achieve the desired effects)
    • avoiding responsibilities at work or school
    • visiting multiple doctors to get multiple prescriptions of the drug (also called “doctor shopping”)
    • feeling unable to quit the drug despite wanting to
    • experiencing withdrawal symptoms when trying to quit the drug

    Ativan Withdrawal Symptoms

    People who abuse Ativan or take it as prescribed for a long time often develop a physical dependence. This means their bodies depend on the drug to function normally. 

    When you try to stop taking it, you may experience withdrawal symptoms like:

    • anxiety
    • irritability
    • depression
    • sweating
    • headaches
    • insomnia
    • nausea or vomiting
    • hallucinations (seeing, hearing, or feelings things that aren’t there)
    • paranoia
    • hand tremors
    • seizures

    Whether you have a prescription for Ativan or not, consult a doctor before you try to stop taking it. They’ll help you gradually reduce your dosage, which will decrease the chance of withdrawal symptoms.

    Learn more about Ativan Withdrawal

    Can You Overdose on Ativan?

    It’s possible to overdose on Ativan if you take a higher dose than you were prescribed or you mix it with other drugs. 

    Signs of a benzodiazepine overdose include:

    • severe drowsiness
    • respiratory depression (slow, troubled breathing)
    • confusion
    • low blood pressure
    • slurred speech
    • hallucinations
    • poor coordination
    • poor reflexes
    • coma

    If you or someone else shows these signs, call for emergency services immediately. Ativan overdose can result in death.

    Learn more about Ativan Overdose

    Ativan Addiction Treatment Options

    As with all forms of drug abuse, it’s not easy to recover from Ativan abuse or addiction on your own. If you or a loved one is struggling with this medication, turn to a drug addiction treatment center.

    Inpatient & Outpatient Treatment Programs

    Rehab centers offer inpatient treatment programs for people who have severe addictions and require 24/7 supervision and support. They also offer outpatient programs for those who have milder addictions and strong support systems outside of treatment. 

    Both inpatient and outpatient programs allow you to safely detox from Ativan. A team of medical professionals will help you gradually reduce your dosage to prevent or reduce withdrawal symptoms.

    As you detox, you’ll have access to services that support recovery and prevent relapse. Most treatment centers offer:

    • individual therapy, in which a counselor will help you develop healthy coping skills and manage any mental health disorders you have
    • group therapy, in which you can share experiences and coping tips with people who are going through similar issues
    • healthy activities like journaling, yoga, exercise, and meditation

    To learn more about the treatment options available at Ark Behavioral Health, please contact us today. 

    Ativan FAQ

    What Is The Difference Between Ativan & Xanax?

    Although Ativan and Xanax are both benzodiazepines, Xanax tends to be more potent. Xanax has a quicker onset of effects than Ativan and tends to be abused more often. 

    Ativan stays in your system longer than Xanax, which makes it slightly safer because you won’t need to take it as often.

    Read Ativan Vs. Xanax to learn more

    Is It Safe To Take Ativan During Pregnancy?

    It is not considered safe to take Ativan or any benzodiazepines while pregnant, unless it is medically necessary. 

    Even low doses of Ativan have potential risks for birth defects, like cleft lip and cleft palate. The biggest danger is the baby developing physical dependence in the womb. This can cause severe withdrawal symptoms after the baby is born that can last several months. 

    Learn more about Ativan & Pregnancy

    How Long Does Ativan Stay In Your System?

    Ativan has a half-life of 12 hours and takes about 2.5 days to be eliminated from your body. However, Ativan and its metabolite can take up to 4 days to leave your system. 

    Several factors can affect elimination time, including dose, frequency of use, and how long you have been taking it. 

    Read How Long Does Ativan Stay In Your System to learn more

    Can You Snort Ativan?

    Ativan tablets can be snorted if they are crushed into a fine powder and inhaled intranasally. However, these tablets are meant to be taken orally and can have adverse effects on your respiratory system when snorted. 

    Snorting is a form of drug abuse and can lead to nasal damage, infections, overdose, and addiction. 

    Learn more about Snorting Ativan

    What Does Ativan Feel Like?

    When taking a prescribed dosage of Ativan, the drug likely has a calming effect that makes you feel more relaxed and less stressed. But when it’s abused, it’s likely to produce a more euphoric and “high” feeling.

    The high may go beyond feeling calmer; it feels almost like you are floating, which is why it’s a Schedule IV controlled substance that can lead to addiction.

    To learn more, read Can You Get High On Ativan?

    How Much Does Ativan Cost On The Street?

    The street value of Ativan can vary depending on where you live. In general, though, dealers charge about $1 for a 0.5mg or 1mg tablet and about $4 for a 2mg tablet. 

    Learn more about Ativan Street Prices

    Can You Smoke Ativan?

    Ativan is a benzodiazepine prescription drug that can be smoked. However, this drug is primarily taken orally for those struggling with panic attacks, insomnia, epilepsy, and anxiety. 

    When Ativan (lorazepam) is smoked, the drug enters the lungs and reaches the brain at a much higher rate than normal. Smoking Ativan is a form of drug abuse that can lead to addiction, overdose, and other health problems. 

    Learn more about Smoking Ativan

    Can You Shoot Ativan?

    It is possible to inject, or shoot up Ativan pills by crushing them into powder, mixing it into water, and injecting the solution. Ativan is also available as an injection in medical settings, which may find its way to illicit drug markets. Shooting Ativan is a form of drug abuse.

    Learn more about Injecting Ativan

    What Are The Warnings For Lorazepam Use?

    • Misuse or long-term use of lorazepam may result in physical dependence.
    • Lorazepam must not be used with CNS depressants including opioid drugs or alcohol, as this may result in profound sedation, respiratory depression, coma, and death.
    • Do not withdrawal from this medication abruptly after prolonged use. Rather, taper dosage gradually with medical supervision due to dependence or addiction.

    Learn more about Lorazepam Warnings

    How Do You Taper Off Ativan?

    Tapering involves slowly decreasing the dose of a medication until it is discontinued. You should not wean yourself off any prescribed medication. Instead, a doctor can provide an appropriate tapering schedule. 

    Tapering gives your body and mind time to adjust to not having the medication. By slowly decreasing the dose, it also minimizes the risk of experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms.

    Learn more about Tapering Off Ativan

    Is Lorazepam A Controlled Substance?

    Lorazepam, also known as Ativan, is a controlled substance classified as a Schedule IV drug. It is a depressant and benzodiazepine, producing effects of sedation that has potential for abuse.

    To learn more, read Ativan (Lorazepam) Drug Classification

    What Happens When You Mix Lorazepam And Alcohol?

    When you mix alcohol with lorazepam (Ativan), you may experience a wide-range of serious side effects that can lead to overdose or death. 

    Benzodiazepines and alcohol are both central nervous system depressants that can cause slow breathing, drowsiness, and impaired motor control. Mixing these two substances increases the effects, which can be dangerous.

    Learn more about Mixing Ativan & Alcohol

    Is It Safe To Take Ativan After Smoking Weed?

    Mixing Ativan and cannabis (weed) is not considered safe because of the adverse side effects the drugs can cause when used together. They’re both depressants, and when mixed, negative side effects like slowed breathing are amplified. 

    Learn more about Mixing Ativan & Marijauna

    Is It Risky To Mix Ativan With Opioids?

    Yes, it can be risky to mix Ativan with opioids. They can have additive effects when mixed together, increasing your risk of an opioid overdose.

    Learn more about Mixing Ativan & Opioids

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2022 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.
    Sources

    Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) - Benzodiazepines
    The Mental Health Clinician: College of Psychiatric & Neurologic Pharmacists - Benzodiazepine Use, Misuse, and Abuse: A Review
    U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus - Lorazepam

    Medically Reviewed by
    Kimberly Langdon M.D.
    on
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