Ativan Addiction: Exploring Causes and Effects of Ativan Abuse

Ativan (lorazepam) is a medication primarily prescribed for anxiety disorders and related conditions. While it can be highly effective when used as directed, its misuse and abuse can lead to serious consequences for individuals and their loved ones. In fact, it was reported that about 7% of high school students in the US had abused drugs including Ativan. In this article, we will delve into the topic of Ativan abuse, offering a lifeline to those affected.

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Ativan, also known as Lorazepam, is a medication primarily prescribed for the management of anxiety disorders, insomnia, and seizure disorders. It belongs to the benzodiazepine class of drugs, which act on the central nervous system to produce a calming effect.

What Does Ativan Look Like?

Ativan is available in tablet and liquid form. The tablets are round and white, and come in three different strengths: 0.5 mg, 1 mg, and 2 mg. The liquid form of Ativan is a clear, colorless liquid that comes in a bottle with a dropper.

How Does Ativan Work?

Ativan operates by enhancing the activity of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. GABA is a neurotransmitter responsible for inhibiting brain activity. When Ativan binds to GABA receptors, it increases GABA’s inhibitory effects, leading to reduced anxiety, muscle relaxation, and a sedative effect. When used as prescribed, it can offer relief from overwhelming mental health symptoms.

Is Ativan addictive?

Yes, Ativan is addictive. Like other benzodiazepines, it has the potential for abuse and addiction, particularly when used beyond the recommended dosage and duration.

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Ativan addiction typically begins innocently, with individuals taking the medication as prescribed by their healthcare provider. Addiction is a complex interplay of physiological, psychological, and environmental factors. It often starts innocently, as individuals seek relief from mental health issues or life’s stressors. Over time, the brain becomes physically dependent on the substance.

Here’s how addiction typically develops:

Prolonged Usage

Those who use Ativan for an extended period may develop tolerance, requiring higher doses to achieve the desired effect.

Psychological Dependence

As the body becomes accustomed to Ativan, psychological dependence can occur. Users may believe they cannot function without the drug.

Seeking Escapism

Many people turn to Ativan as a means of escape from life’s stresses. This can pave the way for addiction.

Risk Factors for Ativan Addiction

While anyone can become affected by Ativan addiction, some people are more vulnerable than others due to the following factors:

  • Genetic predisposition
  • Medical history
  • Underlying mental or medical conditions
  • History of substance abuse
  • Age
  • Gender

Recognizing the Warning Signs of Addiction

It is crucial to recognize the signs of Ativan addiction early. Changes in behavior, a preoccupation with obtaining the drug, and increased tolerance are all red flags that should not be ignored.

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Like any medication, Ativan can cause side effects. Not everyone will experience these side effects, and some people may experience them to a greater or lesser degree. Common short-term side effects of Ativan include:

icon depicting drowsiness the side effects of addiction


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Blurred Vision

icon showing vomiting which is a cause of drug abuse


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Dry Mouth

icon showing addiction can cause insomnia

Insomnia or Sleep Apnea

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Breathing Problems

Influence on the Brain and Body

Ativan’s influence on the central nervous system can alter brain chemistry. This not only exacerbates the risk of addiction but also poses potential long-term mental health challenges.

Long-term use or misuse of Ativan can lead to drug dependence, tolerance, and withdrawal symptoms when the medication is discontinued. Therefore, it’s crucial to use Ativan only as prescribed by a healthcare professional. Attempting to quit Ativan without medical guidance can also be dangerous. Addiction to the drug may also lead to Ativan overdose.

Is Ativan stronger than Xanax?

Ativan and Xanax are both benzodiazepine medications that are used to treat anxiety and panic disorders. They are both effective medications, but they have different onset times, durations of action, and side effects.

In general, Ativan is considered to be less potent than Xanax. This means that it takes a higher dose of Ativan to produce the same effects as a lower dose of Xanax. However, Ativan has a longer duration of action than Xanax, meaning that its effects last longer.

Drinking alcohol while taking Ativan is a dangerous mix since both substances can depress the central nervous system. However, benzodiazepines like Ativan can be useful for treating alcohol withdrawal syndrome.

Using Ativan for Alcohol Withdrawal

When people with a history of alcohol abuse suddenly stop drinking, they often experience withdrawal symptoms that can range from mild to severe. These symptoms may include anxiety, restlessness, tremors, and even seizures.

Ativan is sometimes prescribed during alcohol withdrawal to alleviate these symptoms and prevent potentially life-threatening complications. It helps people feel more relaxed and reduces the risk of seizures and severe anxiety during the withdrawal process. However, it should only be used under the supervision of a medical professional, as it can also be habit-forming.

Is Ativan a controlled substance?

Yes, Ativan (lorazepam) is a controlled substance in the United States. Ativan is a Schedule IV controlled substance because it has a low potential for drug abuse and addiction, but it can still be abused. Ativan abuse can lead to addiction, dependence, and overdose.

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Overcoming Ativan addiction often requires a comprehensive treatment program. This includes medical detoxification, inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation programs, therapy sessions, and aftercare programs.

The Hope House, a residential addiction treatment center nestled in the serene landscape of Scottsdale, Arizona, extends a warm welcome to those seeking a path to recovery.

Our residential rehabilitation programs provide intensive therapy and counseling, tailored to your unique needs, to help you break free from the grip of Ativan addiction. Our Dual Diagnosis program can also help address any underlying condition to address the root cause of substance abuse.

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