Ativan (lorazepam) is a benzodiazepine drug that is prescribed primarily for treating anxiety and insomnia. This fast-acting sedative quickly induces a state of calm and deep relaxation by increasing GABA in the brain. Ativan is very effective and well tolerated with few adverse effects, making it a drug that is prone to abuse.
As with all benzodiazepines, Ativan is intended for short to intermediate term use, usually no more than four months. This is because the body will build up tolerance to it, causing the individual to increase their dosing to achieve the earlier effects. This can lead to someone becoming both psychologically and physically dependent on the drug.
When the refills are no longer approved the individual will know they are addicted because highly unpleasant Ativan withdrawal symptoms ensue in the absence of the drug. Benzodiazepines can cause serious, even life-threatening withdrawal symptoms, so any attempt to discontinue them after long-term use should be done under medical supervision.
What Are the Signs of Ativan Addiction?
There are some signs and symptoms that indicate that Ativan use or misuse is evolving into an addiction. These include:
- Loss of appetite, anorexia
- Memory problems
- Mental confusion
- Using increasing amounts of Ativan, using Ativan as a crutch
- Withdrawing from social activities
- Loss of interest in usual hobbies
- Increased anxiety
- Poor coordination
- Blurred vision
- Breathing problems
- Mood swings
- Doctor shopping to obtain more Ativan
- Experience withdrawal symptoms when Ativan is unavailable
Safest Way to Approach Ativan Withdrawal
Due to the possibility of dangerous withdrawal symptoms, it is never advisable to attempt Ativan detox cold turkey or alone without support. A medically monitored detox program will manage the psychological and physical withdrawal symptom, regularly checking vital signs. The detox doctor will put the individual on a tapering schedule to minimize the health risks, allowing the detox process to be completed safely. Withdrawal symptoms will ensure within 6 hours of the last dose of Ativan, and may include:
- Severe nervousness
- Panic attacks
- Profuse sweating
- Abdominal cramps
- Muscle aches
- Mood swings
- Short-term memory loss
Round the clock supervision in a medical detox allows detox specialists to provide medications and psychological support to safely guide the individual through the detox and withdrawal process.
Detox Timeline for Ativan Withdrawal
The detox timeline and severity of withdrawal symptoms will depend on the length of time Ativan was abused, the usual daily dosage, if additional substances were abused, the general health of the individual, and whether there are any co-occurring mental health disorders present. A tapering program will help diffuse much of the intensity of the withdrawal symptoms.
The early withdrawal stage of detoxification involves increased blood pressure, increased heart rate, insomnia, and pronounced anxiety symptoms. The acute withdrawal stage starts around day 2-3 and may involve symptoms that last for up to two weeks. Symptoms might include tremors, cravings, muscle aches, irritability, nausea, confusion, sweating, and panic attacks. To date there is no drug to help mitigate withdrawal symptoms for an Ativan addiction.
Next Steps After Detox and Withdrawal
Once the medical detox is safely completed, the next phase of Ativan addiction recovery involves the active treatment phase. Without learning how to manage stress, triggers, and change habits, it is impossible to sustain recovery.
A rehab program can be obtained in an outpatient format or a residential format. Outpatient treatment offers three different intensities based on the history of the Ativan misuse and other factors. Outpatient programs provide more flexibility and they usually cost less than the residential programs.
However, sometimes the outpatient program does not provide enough structure, which can result in relapse. Some individuals do better in a residential program where there is 24-hour support. Whichever type of rehab format is selected, the fundamental treatment elements will be similar. These include:
- Psychotherapy. Individual sessions allow for delving into past emotional pain, traumas, mental health conditions, current stressors, and help to process and heal these using evidence-based therapies. Clients learn how to reshape thought patterns so that new productive behavior patterns will replace the dependency on Ativan.
- Group sessions. Group counseling and family counseling sessions are excellent opportunities to share your experiences with others who have similar challenges. This helps to foment peer support, which is helpful while going through addiction treatment as it makes participants feel they are not alone.
- Addiction recovery tools. Rehab programs will equip the individual with the tools needed to avert any temptation to return to Ativan use. Relapse prevention planning and strategizing is a high priority in rehab.
- 12-step programs. A.A.’s 12-step program is incorporated into many rehab programs to one degree or another. Meetings can be helpful to those in early recovery, offering a safe place to share and learn from each other.
Lifestyle Changes to Promote Relaxation
One of the most important goals of overcoming an addiction to Ativan or any benzo is to learn more healthy ways to calm the mind and settle down. Replacing the drug with stress-reducing activities, regular exercise, and healthy diets can help individuals in recovery refrain from needing the sedatives. These lifestyle changes might include:
- Massage therapy
- Gardening therapy
- Art therapy
- Equine therapy
- Regular exercise
- Guided meditation
All of these activities will promote relaxation while reducing stress, helping individuals manage anxiety without Ativan or any benzodiazepine.
Ken Seeley Communities Treats Ativan Addiction and Dependency
Ken Seeley Communities is a Palm Springs-based drug and alcohol recovery center. Our medical detox program helps clients achieve a safely guided detoxification process. These trained detox professionals assist clients by tapering them off the Ativan incrementally, significantly reducing the discomforts and dangers of Ativan withdrawal symptoms. Once detox is safely completed, the client will transition to the active treatment phase of recovery. Ken Seeley Communities provides the most current, evidence-based therapies and a highly attentive staff to guide the client into a solid, sustained recovery. For more information, please connect with our staff at Ken Seeley Communities by calling (877) 744-0502.