Ativan addiction is a dangerous condition and one that has been on a steady increase in the United States over the past few decades. Ativan (Lorazepam) is a benzodiazepine, or mild tranquilizer that has sedative qualities, and is commonly prescribed for conditions like anxiety, insomnia, and the treatment of seizures. Ativan is also often used for pre-operative sedation and anxiety before dental work. Like all benzodiazepines, Ativan is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant, working mainly to enhance the effects of the GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) neurotransmitter in the brain.
When Ativan is used non-medically, or medically over a prolonged period, it often produces dependency, which results in mild to severe and potentially life-threatening withdrawal symptoms if its use is suddenly discontinued.
What is Ativan Addiction?
Ativan addiction can be characterized by the continued use of the drug despite repeated, adverse consequences related to its use. Addiction is separate from dependency on prescription drugs like Ativan. Although it is not typically recommended for long-term use, some people are prescribed this medication for ongoing insomnia or anxiety conditions. When Ativan is used consistently for six weeks or longer, it most often produces psychological and physical dependency, and this is not necessarily indicative of addiction.
So, how would one tell the difference between Ativan dependency and Ativan addiction?
Non-medical Use of Ativan
Any time an individual uses Ativan in any way for which it is not intended, he or she is abusing the drug. And when this non-medical use continues for a prolonged period, which results in dependency, addiction is most likely indicated. Some examples of the non-medical use of Ativan include the following:
- Any individual who is taking Ativan that is not prescribed to him or her
- Taking prescribed Ativan outside the scope of its intended use (i.e., taking it because one is stressed, rather than at nighttime for insomnia or taking more Ativan than prescribed))
- Using Ativan to enhance the effects of other CNS depressants like heroin, painkillers, and alcohol
When Ativan is used non-medically, it is most often in conjunction with the abuse of another drug, most often depressant drugs to enhance their soothing effects. It is also not uncommon for individuals who abuse stimulant drugs like cocaine, meth and crack to abuse Ativan to equalize the consequences of the stimulant drugs or facilitate sleep after a binge.
Risky Behavior Associated With Ativan Use
Another sign of Ativan addiction is the behaviors associated with the use of the drug. Even for those who have been prescribed Ativan for a legitimate medical purpose can become addicted to it and exhibit dangerous behaviors surrounding its use. Since addiction is classified as a behavioral problem, when an individual is showing specific behaviors (regardless of a legitimate prescription), he or she can be considered an addict.
Some of the risky behaviors that can be linked to Ativan addiction include the following:
- Doctor shopping to get more Ativan than one physician alone can (or will) prescribe is a sign of Ativan addiction. This practice is prevalent among addicts, especially those who have some medical reason for using Ativan. Visits from one doctor to another in efforts to get multiple prescriptions for Ativan have proven to be an effective way for addicts to obtain massive amounts of this drug for personal use or resale on the streets at inflated prices.
- Reckless and dangerous behavior while under the influence of Ativan is another symptom of addiction. Particularly for those who abuse Ativan during the daytime, performing tasks like driving or operating machinery can become deadly with the sedative effects of Ativan present in the brain. Although everyone should be aware of potential risks before taking any medication, the effects of Ativan are often ignored by those who abuse the drug, leading to dangerous behaviors like driving, drinking alcohol or using other drugs, caring for children, and participating in sports.
Overconsumption of Ativan is not only potentially deadly, but it can be dangerous in many other ways. In some cases, Ativan can cause paradoxical effects in users that result in such behaviors as:
- Hostility and violence
- Increased activity and energy
- Lack of inhibition
- Extreme agitation and anxiety
When an individual experiences these paradoxical effects with Ativan addiction, he or she may be more likely to engage in fights with others and take even more Ativan in an attempt to counter his or her condition of heightened anxiety and activity levels.
Negative Consequences Associated With Ativan Addiction
The most common effect of addiction of all kinds is the series of negative consequences associated with the behaviors of the addict, and this is no different with Ativan addiction. Although an individual who has been prescribed Ativan for legitimate medical purposes may become dependent on it after several weeks of continuous use, his or her doctor will either continue to provide refills or work with the individual to gradually taper the dosage to withdraw from it safely.
In the case of Ativan addiction, and an individual who is abusing the drug non-medically, his or her ability to continue to get more Ativan will be severely diminished over time, and likely come down to illicit means of obtaining the drug. Engaging in unlawful ways of getting more Ativan is very dangerous, as it places the individual at a constant risk of arrest and incarceration. Additional adverse consequences of Ativan addiction include the following:
- Decreased performance at work, school, and home life
- Troubled or broken relationships as a result of erratic behavior while abusing Ativan
- Personal or property damage as a result of accidents while under the influence of Ativan
- Medical complications and overdose-related to Ativan abuse
- Financial troubles as a consequence of neglecting financial obligations and paying inflated prices for illegally obtained Ativan
- Inability to maintain and get a job as a result of frequent absenteeism and erratic behaviors
The negative consequences of Ativan addiction can be numerous and widespread, as those close to the addicted individual often suffer massive and frequent assaults as they watch their loved one fall further into substance abuse and danger.
Dangers of Ativan Addiction
Once addicted to Ativan, individuals often find themselves in a precarious and dangerous position. Unlike most stimulant drugs, and even heroin and painkillers, getting off of Ativan must be done with medical consultation, and often medical supervision throughout the process. Ativan addiction produces withdrawal symptoms that can include potentially fatal grand mal seizures without medical consultation and a medical detox. The most accepted and common method for coming off of Ativan is a slow tapering of the dosage by a physician, with strict medical supervision to ensure the most severe symptoms of withdrawal do not become unmanageable and deadly. Although not all who are dependent on Ativan will suffer from the same withdrawal symptoms, the ability to taper the dosage of Ativan almost invariably prevents the occurrence of seizures and other serious symptoms. Some of the most common symptoms associated with Ativan withdrawal include the following:
- Increased anxiety
- High blood pressure
- Severe mood swings
- Cognitive impairment
- Intense cravings
- Sensory sensitivity
- Numbness (or pins and needles) sensation in extremities
- Muscle tension and pain
There are over 30 reported withdrawal symptoms associated with Ativan and other benzodiazepines. However, the symptoms as mentioned above are the most common.
Depending on individual detox facilities, the most common method for withdrawal from Ativan is to switch an individual to an equivalent dose of a less potent benzodiazepine (usually Valium) and then begins to taper the dose of that benzodiazepine down to nothing slowly. The equivalent dose of Valium to Ativan is 10mg to 1mg, respectively. As one of the stronger benzodiazepines, Ativan, along with Xanax and Klonopin typically require the highest equivalent doses of a detox benzodiazepine.
Recovery From Ativan Addiction
Once an individual has become addicted to Ativan and is ready to get sober, the most important thing is a safe detox from the drug. With medical supervision, detox from Ativan is entirely safe and entirely useful to cleanse an individual’s body of the drug.
Aside from a medical detox, it most often recommended that individuals attend some form of addiction treatment to ensure the prevention of a relapse and future need for rehab again.
Many people are concerned that the symptoms for which they first took Ativan will return upon completion of detoxification. However, this is not always the case. Many problems like anxiety and insomnia are situational, meaning they are the result of one, or a series of situations in an individual’s life, and not necessarily a chemical imbalance or persistent condition. Additionally, many medical doctors are aware of some other remedies and simple dietary and lifestyle changes that may improve symptoms of insomnia and anxiety.
If you or someone you love is suffering from Ativan addiction, and in need of detox and treatment, please don’t wait to get help. Addiction only gets worse with time void of therapy, and abuse of dangerous CNS depressant drugs like Ativan can result in overdose and death any day.
Please call us now to speak with one of our caring counselors. We are standing by to talk with you about your situation, and we will help you find the best detox facility to safely detox from Ativan, as well as the addiction treatment program that can best relate to your needs, or those of your addicted loved one. Based on needs, preference and belief system, we can help you to narrow down the type of addiction treatment, methodologies, spiritual tracks, and length of time that would be most effective to overcome Ativan addiction.
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Please call now, and get the help that is needed and deserved to overcome Ativan addiction, and start a path to happiness, health, and sustained sobriety.