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  • Lorazepam Warnings | Dependence, Interactions, Abuse Potential, & Side Effects

    Lorazepam Warnings | Dependence, Interactions, Abuse Potential, & Side Effects

    Lorazepam, sold under the brand name Ativan, is a prescription drug used to manage the symptoms of anxiety disorders and insomnia, as well as several other physical and mental health conditions.

    Ativan is a benzodiazepine similar to Valium or Xanax and is available in pills or tablets for oral use and as an injection.

    While this drug is widely used and has proven very effective as a hypnotic (a drug that helps you sleep), anxiolytic (a drug that relieves anxiety), and anticonvulsant (a drug that helps manage convulsions or seizures), it is not without certain risks and side effects.

    Lorazepam Dependence

    As with all benzodiazepine medications, lorazepam should only be prescribed for as-needed or short-term use, as prolonged use may lead to the development of potentially severe dependence.

    This potential is lowest when treatment is limited to a period of only two to four weeks at most.

    Do not start taking this medication, stop taking this medication, or change your dosing without approval from your doctor, health care provider, or pharmacist first, as this may be harmful.

    If you have been taking lorazepam for an extended period of time, do not stop taking the drug abruptly as this may result in uncomfortable and potentially severe or dangerous withdrawal symptoms. Instead, reduce your dosage gradually with medical supervision.

    Lorazepam Interactions

    Do not consume benzodiazepines with alcohol, opioid narcotics, or other central nervous system (CNS) depressants or tranquilizers, as this may result in dangerous impairment, CNS depression, sedation, breathing problems, coma, and death.

    Combining lorazepam with other drugs to increase intoxication is also a form of drug abuse, which can lead to addiction down the road.

    In addition, lorazepam use can result in severe drug interactions with sodium oxybate, serious interactions with valerian, moderate interactions with at least 191 other drugs, and mild interactions with 36 further drugs.

    Lorazepam Side Effects

    Lorazepam is known to cause a variety of common side effects, including:

    •  drowsiness or sleepiness
    •  dizziness
    •  unsteadiness
    •  weakness
    •  amnesia
    •  disorientation

    Less-common, more serious side effects, often associated with lorazepam abuse or withdrawal symptoms after use of this medication is discontinued, include:

    •  depression
    •  suicidal impulses
    •  sleep apnea
    •  muscle spasms or tremors
    •  respiratory depression
    •  convulsions/seizures
    •  visual disturbances
    •  low blood pressure (hypotension)
    •  change in libido
    •  impotence
    •  yellowing of skin or eyes (jaundice)
    •  hypersensitivity reactions
    •  nausea
    •  constipation
    •  change in appetite
    •  blood dyscrasias
    •  increased bilirubin
    •  increased liver transaminases
    •  increase in ALP

    Side effects and adverse reactions associated with lorazepam overdose include:

    •  difficulty speaking
    •  sweating
    •  sleep disturbances
    •  anxiety, agitation, or aggression
    •  severe muscle weakness
    •  difficulty moving (ataxia)
    •  fatigue

    Lorazepam Allergic Reactions

    It is possible to have an allergic reaction to this medication. If you take this medication and experience hives, difficulty breathing, or swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat, seek emergency medical help.

    Warnings Relating To Pregnancy & Early Development

    Lorazepam should not be used by pregnant women during their first trimester, as evidence suggests that lorazepam and other benzodiazepines increase the likelihood of congenital malformations (birth defects). 

    Maternal use before delivery (in the third trimester) is also associated with floppy infant syndrome. If you’re pregnant and crave lorazepam for uses not directed, you could have a substance use disorder.

    Lorazepam should also not be given to young children or taken while nursing, as prolonged or repeated exposure, including exposure through breast milk, may have a negative effect on brain development.

    Lorazepam Cautions

    Doctors should show caution when prescribing lorazepam to individuals with:

    •  a history of suicide attempts
    •  a history of drug abuse
    •  alcohol or opioid use disorders
    •  hyperactive or aggressive behavior
    •  a history of paradoxical reactions
    •  respiratory diseases, including COPD and sleep apnea
    •  impaired gag reflex
    •  major depressive disorder
    •  psychosis

    Professional Care For Lorazepam Addiction

    If you or a loved one has developed a dependency to Ativan or any other benzodiazepine medication, or if you are misusing benzodiazepine drugs in some other way than directed, professional care and treatment is available to help.

    To learn more, please contact us today.

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

    Food and Drug Administration (FDA) - Ativan (lorazepam) Tablets
    National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) - Lorazepam (Ativan)
    National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus - Lorazepam

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