Ativan addiction can pose a serious threat to individuals using benzodiazepine therapy to treat a specific condition. Benzos are widely prescribed throughout the United States and are the most commonly prescribed depressants by physicians. There are 15 varieties available, and the intended purpose of drugs like Ativan is to treat anxiety, sleep disorders, and in some cases, epilepsy. These conditions affect millions of people each year, and medications like Ativan have eased symptoms.
Benzo drugs are useful because they slow down overactive nervous systems that cause less than desirable symptoms in the body. Ativan is considered a central nervous system (CNS) depressant and may be used for other symptoms that are not listed above. Although drugs like Ativan can restore balance to the body and work when used as prescribed, the risk of becoming dependent on or addicted to it is high even when the user follows doctors’ orders.
A doctor will not prescribe Ativan for more than four weeks because of the potential for dependency. When the medication is used for longer than prescribed or in higher doses than intended, your body will slowly develop a tolerance. If you use other depressant drugs like opioids or alcohol in conjunction with Ativan, you increase the chances you’ll suffer a fatal overdose.
If you’re currently undergoing treatment that involves Ativan and would like to learn more about the signs and symptoms of Ativan addiction, continue reading to learn more about how the complex disorder is treated.
What is Ativan?
Ativan, also known by its generic name lorazepam, is used to treat sleep disorders, epilepsy, anxiety, and seizures. The drug has a broad scope in what it can manage, and it can also be used to alleviate severe symptoms caused by chemotherapy, including nausea and vomiting.
Ativan works fast and takes effect in five minutes through intravenous injection. When consumed orally, the individual can feel relief in as little as 15 minutes, which is a reason it’s sought out for abuse. Medical professionals seek out the medication because of how long it lasts, ranging from 12 to 24 hours. The combination of quick onset and long-lasting effects allow those prescribed for sleep disorders to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
Since Ativan is classified as a benzodiazepine, it falls under the category of central nervous system (CNS) depressants shared with barbiturates, alcohol, and opioids. Drugs of this nature suppress brain activity and bind to receptors in the central nervous system that produce chemicals known as GABA. When Ativan attaches itself to the receptor, it produces anxiolytic or anti-anxiety effects and sedative, hypnotic, and muscle relaxing properties. Those who struggle with GABA deficiencies in their brain will find great relief when using the medication as prescribed.
As mentioned above, those who use Ativan for a period of four or more weeks give themselves a more significant chance of becoming physically dependent on the medication. Once you’ve become dependent, you’ll experience withdrawal symptoms upon abrupt cessation. It could cause catastrophic results without proper medical intervention. If you’re using Ativan regularly, you must speak with a doctor before stopping to avoid seizures or fatal outcomes.
What are the Signs of Ativan Addiction?
Although you may not notice signs in the earliest stages of addiction to most drugs, Ativan is an exception. The medication will provide many signs and symptoms that indicate a growing dependency or addiction. The first sign of addiction is growing tolerance, which develops as your body gradually adjusts to Ativan. The tolerance will grow into a dependence on the drug, which is an urge to continue using to avoid the uncomfortable symptoms of withdrawal.
The longer this progresses, the final step in the equation is addiction. Addiction is characterized by drug use despite the consequences of your actions. If your use of Ativan starts interrupting your daily routine, such as missing work or school because you overslept or getting a DUI, but you continue using, these are signs you’ve become addicted.
Ativan addiction will offer many outward behavioral signs that are hard to miss. Some of these side effects include:
- Visibly altered sleep patterns
- Chronic drowsiness
- Concentration problems
Other Signs That Indicate a Full-blown Ativan Addiction Include:
- Using Ativan without a prescription or stealing prescription pads from doctors to forge them.
- An increased tolerance to Ativan
- Taking unnecessarily high doses to get intoxicated
- Socially isolating or withdrawing from friends or family
- Experiencing severe cravings for Ativan when you aren’t using
- Noticeable decline in school or work performance
- Hiding or lying about Ativan use
- Attempting to stop Ativan with no success.
- Needing Ativan to feel normal and function
If you’ve observed any of the signs above in yourself or loved ones, you must reach out for help. Professional addiction treatment is a necessary step to overcome an addiction to Ativan. There are many sources available for you to get the help you need.
What is Involved in Ativan Addiction Treatment?
Ativan is a drug that meddles with GABA in the brain to produce anxiolytic effects in the central nervous system. Unfortunately, Ativan withdrawal can be fatal, and someone overcoming a dependency or addiction to the medication must attend medical detox to stave off the deadly symptoms of benzo withdrawal. Detox is a process that removes all traces of Ativan from the system and prepares the client for the next stage of treatment.
When an individual completes detox and is deemed medically stable by clinicians, they will be ready for the next stage of treatment. A person overcoming Ativan addiction must commit to the next step of help to learn about what contributed to their urge to use drugs. The individual could move into inpatient or outpatient treatment. Treatment can only be successful if it’s tailored around their specific needs.
Whether the client ends up living on-site or has more freedom through an outpatient program, they can expect to work toward the underlying causes of their addiction. They will learn positive coping skills and what it takes to manage their sobriety long-term. The therapies they can expect to see during treatment include:
- Individual therapy
- Group therapy
- Medication-assisted treatment (MAT)
- EMDR therapy
- Behavioral therapy
- Holistic therapy
- Dual diagnosis treatment
- Addiction education classes
It’s crucial to seek help if you’re struggling with Ativan addiction.
Unfortunately, since Ativan is easily accessible through a prescription, overdoses often occur. An estimated 30 percent of opioid-related overdoses involved benzodiazepine drugs. Signs of Ativan overdose include:
- Slowed reflexes
- Nausea and vomiting
- Weak pulse
- Blurred vision
- Shallow or slowed breathing
- Drifting in and out of consciousness
- Bluish skin around the lips and fingernails
You must call 911 immediately if you witness any of these signs.