Is Ativan Habit-Forming?

Is Ativan habit forming? Ativan is a fast-acting medication that is only intended to be taken for short periods of time. Taking Ativan for longer than 4 weeks can result in dependence and addiction. 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 include Xanax, Darvon, and valium. The active ingredient in Ativan is benzodiazepines which can be addicting, so taking for prolonged periods could result in dependence.

Benzodiazepines enhance the effects of GAGA-A neurotransmitters in the brain, which results in tranquilizing effects. When benzodiazepines are used in large doses or for longer than advised by a medical professional they can result in physical and psychological dependence that can lead to addiction. Addiction is more likely to occur in people who have anxiety disorders, sleep disorders, and mood disorders. Sometimes people who are diagnosed with anxiety or sleep disorders will find the medication helpful. They might even increase their dosage on their own to heighten or even maintain their effects. This tolerance can lead to dependence and addiction.

How Long Does It Take to Become Addicted to Ativan

How long does it take to get addicted to Ativan? The length of time it takes to become addicted to Ativan varies from person to person. Some people might never develop an addiction, while others do. It depends on a wide range of factors such as age, metabolism, genetics, family history, substance use disorder history, and more.

According to American Family Physician, benzodiazepines like Ativan are fast-acting and produce almost immediate effects. They are only meant to be used for short-term treatment and intermittent treatment. For example, most people’s symptoms of anxiety come and go. Ativan is supposed to be used on an as-needed basis. This enabled patients to take the medication to relieve their symptoms as they arise. However, this can result in people developing tolerance because “as-needed” can become more and frequent as a person increases their tolerance. As tolerance increases so do a person’s chances for developing dependence and addiction.

What Is Ativan?

Avitan (lorazepam) is the brand name for a prescription medication that contains benzodiazepines. Ativan 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 benzodiazepines work by producing a sedative effect on the central nervous system.

Is lorazepam addictive? The prescription medication is only intended for short-term use because it has the potential to lead to dependence and addiction. Benzodiazepine abuse is a growing problem in the United States. A study published in the Mental Health Clinician mentioned that in 2008, 75 million prescriptions for benzodiazepines such as lorazepam, were written in the United States. Most individuals take medications as prescribed. However, less than 2 percent of people who take a benzodiazepine prescription escalate to a higher dose and even less meet the criteria for abuse and dependence. In 2010 there were around 186,000 new benzodiazepine abusers.

How Does Ativan Addiction Begin?

For some people, Ativan dependence and addiction begin from just taking their prescriptions as intended by their physician. They may be taking the medication as intended and the body might get used to having the drug in it. As time goes on, someone who is developing an addiction will experience increased tolerance and physical dependence. Physical dependence is the body’s response to long-term use of the medication. People who become dependent on Ativan might need higher doses of the medication, known as tolerance, to experience the desired effects. If a person who developed dependence attempts to quit taking this medication, or even reduce their dose they can experience withdrawal symptoms.

Once a person becomes addicted to Ativan they will experience dependence as well as compulsive drug-seeking behaviors. A person addicted to Ativan will use the drug even though it has created significant problems in their life. Addiction causes changes in the chemical balance of the brain which results in behavioral changes. Without help, attempting to quit a drug addiction can be very challenging and almost impossible.

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What Factors Influence Ativan Addiction

Prescription drug addiction, such as addiction to Ativan, can begin at any age, but most frequently happens in teens or young adults. According to the Journal of Substance Use Disorder Treatment, 23 percent of college students had a lifetime history of prescription drug abuse.  Also, Ativan addiction is influenced by if a person has a past or present addiction to other substances, family history of a substance use disorder, a person’s genetics, stress, exposure to peer pressure or social environments where people are abusing drugs, having easy access to prescription drugs, such as in the cupboard, and not knowing enough about the consequences of abusing prescriptions drugs. Other factors include a person’s age, interpersonal violence, comorbid psychiatric disorders, history of alcohol abuse, and antisocial personality disorder.

What Factors Influence Recovery

One of the biggest factors that influences recovery is peer support. Peer support is when people give and receive nonprofessional, nonclinical assistance to and from people who are going through a similar situation or who have a similar condition. It is done in an attempt to achieve long-term recovery from drug addiction. Peer support has been found to increase treatment retention, improve relationships with treatment providers and social supports, increase satisfaction, and reduce relapse rates. Peer support has also been found to reduce a person’s drug use and can help a person remain abstinent from drug use.

Other factors that influence recovery are using non-drug related therapies. For example, relaxation through medication, taking deep breaths, getting plenty of sleep, listening to music, eating healthy meals, drinking plenty of water, taking vitamins, exercising, and spending time with supportive friends and family can all aid the recovery process.

Getting Help

Is Ativan addictive? To sum it up, Ativan can be addictive if taken for longer than a couple of weeks or in ways other than intended by a family physician. Developing an addiction is easy, it takes a lot of time and effort to overcome an addiction. If you or someone you love has an Ativan addiction, finding a high-quality rehab can help. Treatment at a rehabilitation clinic will combine education, therapy, and medications to ease the withdrawal process and help you reach long-term addiction recovery.


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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