While most of us have become anxious or apprehensive at one point in time over something that worried us, for 18 percent of the population this anxiety can become excessive to the point it negatively affects their quality of life. These individuals have what is considered an anxiety disorder. Ativan is a benzodiazepine medication used to treat anxiety. Sadly, Ativan can be abused in a manner which leads to addiction.
What Is Ativan?
Ativan is a brand name medication of the benzodiazepine (benzo) drug lorazepam. As a benzo, it’s a central nervous system (CNS) depressant, which means it slows several important bodily functions, including breathing rates, heart rate, and temperature. The benzodiazepine class of drugs produce anti-anxiety, hypnotic, sedative, and tranquilizing effects. These actions are what allow Ativan to treat anxiety and short-term insomnia, specifically by the way it produces a relaxed state by decreasing activity within the brain.
Unfortunately, some individuals pursue these states for recreational purposes or self-medication, by taking the medication in higher than normal doses. These behaviors intensify these effects and also increase the risk of addiction.
Is Ativan Addictive?
Like all benzodiazepine drugs, Ativan has the potential for abuse and addiction. In fact, according to an American Family Physician (AFP) publication on benzodiazepines, short-acting benzos with a high potency (of which Ativan is) are more readily abused than their long-acting counterparts. This is because the effects are felt more rapidly and intensely.
Further, a US National Library of Medicine DailyMed article warns that “The risk of dependence…is further increased in patients with a history of alcoholism or drug abuse or in patients with significant personality disorders.”
While benzodiazepine drugs can, and are, abused alone, as the AFP notes, they are often used in situations of polydrug abuse. This is because users abuse them to balance their high or increase euphoria and to reduce withdrawal symptoms associated with a variety of other drugs. These behaviors are exceedingly dangerous, as several of the drugs used in these practices are CNS depressants as well (like alcohol and opioids). This combination drastically increases the risk of adverse interactions, including those which lead to overdose and death.
Lastly, some individuals may stumble into addiction. Individuals who have an Ativan prescription may alter their dosage themselves to try and self-treat their anxiety or insomnia. Doing so is considered abuse, and these increased doses significantly raise the risk of addiction.
What Are The Signs Of Ativan Withdrawal?
Within an addicted state, a person is dependent on Ativan to function and will withdrawal should they abruptly decrease their dosage or stop using altogether. Withdrawal includes a set of symptoms which can become intolerable and at times painful, if not treated properly. These include, as explained by DailyMed:
- Abdominal cramps
- Decreased appetite
- Hypersensitivity to light and sound
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Panic attacks
- Rebound anxiety
- Rebound insomnia
These symptoms may become so extreme as to alter a person’s perception of reality, by causing:
- Delirium (confused thinking and a disturbed state of mind).
- Depersonalization (feeling detached from yourself, as if you’re not quite there).
- Derealization (feeling like what’s around you isn’t real).
- Hallucinations (seeing, hearing, or feeling things which don’t really exist).
Attempting to treat these on your own is extremely unwise. Instead, consider a medical detox. This treatment delivers exceptional care to support and protect you through this trying time.
Why Is A Medical Detox Important?
Choosing to treat Ativan withdrawal on your own places your sobriety and life in your hands. Are you up to this challenge? The truth is, no one should ever treat this on their own, as a benzodiazepine detox is best addressed by comprehensive medical support.
Aside from alcohol withdrawals, benzodiazepine withdrawals are the only other form which can be directly life-threatening. Like alcohol withdrawals, withdrawal from benzos can cause seizures and delirium tremens, critical states which require immediate care, as they can endanger your life. At home you do not have the medical equipment or highly-trained professionals which can save your life, should this situation arise.
Withdrawal creates strong cravings. Without the support of a detox program you may be tempted to use Ativan again to avoid feeling this way.
What Happens During A Medical Detox?
Healing from addiction begins on a physical level, and during detox your body works hard to flush toxins out of its system. This process isn’t always easy and can be very overwhelming.
To address this, effective detox programs use medication-assisted treatments (MAT) to reduce or alleviate withdrawal symptoms. Within this, a variety of medications will be used to target specific symptoms of withdrawal, so that you are as safe and comfortable as possible. Detox provides 24/7 hour support, from start to finish of the withdrawal process.
Detox can be emotionally strenuous as well, which is another reason detoxing in a facility is so important. The facility’s staff will comfort you during this time, answering any questions you may have, or will simply provide an ear and any emotional support you may need.
Because benzo addictions commonly occur with other forms of drug abuse, additional medical support and medications may be necessary. For instance, alcohol, a drug commonly abused with benzos, is extremely dehydrating. To counter this, IV fluid hydration may be used. This, and other drugs of abuse, may require other forms of MAT to address additional symptoms of withdrawal.
Should You Get Treatment After Detox?
Detoxing alone isn’t enough to treat an Ativan addiction. To create a solid, drug-free life, you also need to treat the psychological addiction. To do this, a variety of behavioral therapies and counseling methods will be tailored to your specific needs. These will be offered in an individual, group, and/or family support setting.
Inpatient drug rehab is typically the best choice for a benzodiazepine addiction. Here, you’ll work through any issues that led to or aggravated your addiction, including any co-occurring disorders you may have been attempting to self-treat, such as anxiety.
If your anxiety is what led you to Ativan in the first place, it’s important that it’s treated too. When you suffer from an addiction and a mental illness at the same time, it’s called a co-occurring disorder or dual diagnosis.
Co-occurring disorders should always be treated while you’re treating an addiction. Failing to do so will only undermine your sobriety. A mental illness can aggravate substance abusing-tendencies, leading a person to relapse. The most effective programs offer comprehensive dual diagnosis care within their treatment programs.
Sobriety Can Be Yours
An Ativan addiction, and any co-occurring anxiety disorders, are best treated within an individualized treatment program. If you’d like to learn more about how a medical detox and inpatient drug rehab could help you to overcome an Ativan addiction, contact us now. Your call to DrugRehab.org is confidential.
For More Information Related to “Ativan Withdrawal And Detoxification” Be Sure To Check Out These Additional Resources From DrugRehab.org:
- The Most Addictive Prescription Sedatives
- Serax (Oxazepam) Withdrawal and Detoxification
- Signs of Librium Abuse
- Temazepam (Restoril) Withdrawal and Detoxification
- Ambien Addiction And Treatment Options
National Institute of Mental Health — Any Anxiety Disorder Among Adults