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  • Ativan (brand name for lorazepam) is an anti-anxiety prescription drug and central nervous system depressant used to treat anxiety, insomnia, alcohol withdrawal, and epilepsy. 

    It’s a long-acting benzodiazepine that has a high potency and stays in the system for a long time. Because of its high potency and calming effects, Ativan is likely to get you high when you take a large dose.

    How Does Ativan Work?

    Because Ativan is classified as a benzodiazepine or benzo, it works by blocking the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) neurotransmitter to slow the brain’s mental process. 

    With the GABA neurotransmitter blocked, norepinephrine and dopamine slow down the body’s stress reaction which is why it can be such an effective anti-anxiety medication.

    Besides anxiety disorders, Ativan is used to treat:

    • panic disorder and panic attacks
    • post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
    • insomnia
    • seizure disorders
    • muscle spasms

    The substance is typically sold as a quick-dissolve tablet, though it is sometimes found in concentrated, colorless liquid as well. 

    What Does Ativan Make You Feel Like?

    When taken correctly, Ativan can make you feel more relaxed, a bit drowsy, calmer, and less stressed. But when it’s abused, it can bring on an even greater “high” and cause an almost euphoric feeling. 

    For euphoria to occur, the dose must be quite high as a normal prescribed dose is unlikely to give you that feeling. 

    Because of its addictive qualities and its ability to create a physical dependence in those who use it, the FDA classifies it as a schedule IV drug.

    The Risks Of Using Ativan To Get High

    One of the biggest risks of an Ativan high is how much you have to take to achieve that high. A normal dose prescribed by a healthcare provider is not likely to get you “high,” but taking a higher dose can. 

    Because of the higher than recommended dose needed to achieve this, there is an increased risk of overdose for people who abuse Ativan.

    Using Ativan with alcohol or other drugs, like antidepressants and opioids, can also lead to an overdose.

    Ativan Abuse & Addiction

    Because Ativan is a legal drug and often obtained with a prescription, people may think it can’t be abused or that they aren’t abusing it. 

    But anyone who is taking more than the prescribed amount, taking it more often than recommended, or taking it longer than directed is likely abusing the drug. Using it to achieve a high or euphoric feeling is drug abuse.

    Side effects of Ativan abuse include:

    • respiratory depression
    • excessive sedation or excessive drowsiness
    • seizures
    • tremors
    • constipation
    • trouble speaking
    • suicidal thoughts
    • increased heart rate
    • memory impairment
    • loss of consciousness

    Ativan Overdose

    As with abusing any drug, there is a higher risk of overdose, and an overdose of Ativan, especially when mixed with other drugs, can be fatal.  Signs of an Ativan overdose look like: 

    • mental confusion
    • slurred speech
    • lack of energy
    • loss of motor skills
    • muscle weakness
    • low blood pressure
    • slow breathing
    • passing out
    • coma

    Ativan Withdrawal Symptoms

    While an Ativan high can feel good at the time, when the feeling wears off, you may crave more. After a period of abuse, you could develop a physical or psychological dependence, which may lead to withdrawal when you stop use.

    Ativan withdrawal symptoms may include:

    • headache
    • sweating
    • confusion
    • increased blood pressure
    • rapid heart rate
    • nausea/vomiting
    • vomiting
    • irritability
    • anxiety
    • mood swings
    • panic attacks

    Ativan Addiction Treatment

    It’s never too late or too early to seek addiction treatment for Ativan abuse. Treatment can range from medical detox to counseling and therapy. Contact our helpline today to find the best option for you or your loved one.

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2023 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.

    FDA - Ativan Label
    National Center for Biotechnology Information - Lorazepam
    National Library of Medicine: Medline Plus - Lorazepam Drug Information

    Medically Reviewed by
    Kimberly Langdon M.D.
    on July 18, 2022
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