Ativan Abuse Symptoms and Warning Signs

Avitan is the brand name for a drug called lorazepam. This prescription medication is used to help people manage their anxiety disorders, continuous seizures, panic attacks, insomnia, and is a medication that is often given prior to anesthesia.

The active ingredient in this medication is benzodiazepines, which work by producing a tranquilizing effect on the central nervous system. Benzodiazepines can be addictive for vulnerable people because the drug causes dopamine levels in a person’s brain reward system to abruptly surge. This creates a pleasurable feeling leaving susceptible people wanting more.

Is Ativan addictive? Ativan is mildly addictive meaning that most people will not develop an addiction to taking Ativan, but some people will. When taken for long periods of time it could result in dependence. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Ativan is a Schedule IV drug meaning it has a low potential for abuse and risk of dependence. Other drugs that are in this category are Xanax, valium, and Darvon. Ativan is only meant to be taken for short periods of time.

Signs of Ativan (Lorazepam) Abuse

There are a few physical as well as behavioral signs that indicate lorazepam abuse. Physical signs can include drowsiness, confusion, unsteady walking, slurred speech, poor concentration, dizziness, memory problems, and slowed breathing. Also, a person who is abusing lorazepam will often experience withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances, and tremors when attempting to reduce or abruptly stop using the medication.

Behavioral signs that indicate an Ativan addiction are stealing, forging, or selling prescriptions as well as requesting early refills or constantly “losing” prescriptions so more can be written. Also, a person who is abusing this medication might seek prescriptions from more than one doctor in an effort to obtain multiple prescriptions. These behaviors can be seen in people with prescription drug addiction because a person who is addicted to a drug will constantly try to maintain a stash of it.

Another sign that indicates an addiction to Ativan is if a person is experiencing constant mood swings, hostility, poor-decision making, or even increased or decreased sleep patterns and has a sedated appearance, it can be a sign that a person is abusing Ativan. Also, a person that uses the medication beyond 4 weeks and taking higher doses than prescribed. Over time, a person will need to take a higher dose of the medication in order to obtain the origin, desired effects. This is known as Ativan tolerance because a person has developed a tolerance for the medication.

Dangers of Ativan

Is Ativan addictive in small doses? Ativan that is taken in small doses for short periods of time (2 to 4 weeks) results in a low chance of developing an addiction. This risk of dependence increases with taking higher doses and for longer periods of time. The risk of developing an Ativan addiction further increases if a person has a history of alcoholism or drug abuse as well as in people who have personality disorders.

Ativan can also cause a number of adverse reactions such as fatigue, drowsiness, amnesia, memory impairment, confusion, depression, suicidal ideations and attempts, seizures, headaches, coma, and respiratory depression.

Overdose is a serious danger of Ativan use as it can be fatal. Those who take Ativan with alcohol or other drugs are at an increased risk of overdosing on it. The signs of an Ativan overdose are drowsiness, mental confusion, lethargy, loss of full control of bodily movements, reduced heart rate, respiratory depression, hypnotic state, coma, and death.

Recognizing an Ativan Addiction

Is Ativan habit forming? Yes, when taken in higher doses or for longer periods than prescribed Ativan can be habit-forming.

Ativan is a benzodiazepine which is also known as a tranquilizer. Long term use of this drug can result in dependence and addiction. Addiction results in life long changes to a person’s brain. When a person who is addicted to Ativan attempts to reduce or discontinue their medication use it can lead to painful withdrawal symptoms. Symptoms of withdrawal from Ativan include nausea, appetite loss, irritability, restlessness, depressed mood, trouble sleeping, muscle aches, tiredness, and anxiety. In some cases, withdrawal can be serious and include seizures.

Intervention for an Ativan Problem

According to the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, about 1.4 million people aged 12 and older in 2017 misused prescription tranquilizers such as Ativan for the first time. This is about 4,000 people abusing prescription tranquilizers daily.

There are so many people who suffer from an addiction. People who are struggling with an addiction are often in denial about their situation and therefore, do not want to seek treatment. They might not realize how their prescription drug use is harming themself and their loved ones. The best way to help them realize that they have a problem and their addiction is harming themself and their family is through holding an intervention. This shows your loved one you care and present them with the opportunity to seek treatment before things get worse.

An intervention is a thorough plan that involves the help of family, friends, doctors, an interventionist, and licensed drug counselors. During the intervention, your loved one is confronted about their prescription drug abuse problem and the consequences of their addiction. During this time a person would ask their loved one to seek treatment and present them with all the reasons why they need it. They would provide clear examples of how their loved one’s addiction is harming them and impacting the family, offer a prearranged treatment plan, as well as discuss the consequences if the loved one refuses treatment.

Withdrawal From Ativan and Treatment

Successful treatment for an Ativan addiction may need to incorporate several components, including slow detoxification, counseling, and medications. Addiction treatment typically starts with a slow detoxification process. A slow detoxification process is necessary to slowly reduce a person’s dosage and wean them off the medication. This process helps reduce the likelihood a person will experience life-threatening withdrawal symptoms such as seizures.

The withdrawal process can be done at either an outpatient or inpatient rehabilitation clinic. This enables a person to be constantly supervised and ensure their vitals are normal. Even though there are no U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved medications for treating Ativan addiction, medications are often used to target each withdrawal symptom in an attempt to ease any pain experienced.

Group therapy and individual therapy are often used to enhance treatment outcomes. They are used to help people stick with treatment and prevent relapse. These therapy sessions use behavioral therapy to teach coping techniques to manage cravings and avoid cues and situations that could lead to relapse and it can also be used to provide incentives for abstinence. One form of behavioral therapy is cognitive-behavioral therapy. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is often used when treating addiction to modify a person’s thinking, expectations, and behaviors while increasing skills for dealing with the various stressors in their life.

Getting Help for an Ativan Addiction

Addiction to Ativan is a very treatable condition. No one should have to suffer alone. If you or someone you love has an Ativan addiction, finding a high-quality rehab can help. With help, a loved one afflicted with an Ativan addiction can obtain the support and treatment necessary to overcome their addiction. Treatment can provide comfort through easing painful withdrawal symptoms as well as providing an outlet to discuss your drug addiction. This can help a person get back to living a drug-free, healthier life.


Medical disclaimer:

Sunshine Behavioral Health strives to help people who are facing substance abuse, addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that addresses health, treatment, and recovery.

Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals.

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