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COVID-19 and Rehab: Facts about drug and alcohol addiction treatments during pandemic.


February 8, 2021

Lorazepam, also called by its brand name Ativan, is a benzodiazepine drug that is prescribed most frequently to treat anxiety. In the same class as Xanax, Klonopin, and Valium, Ativan can also be useful for treating seizure disorders, occasional insomnia, and alcohol withdrawal symptoms. 

Though many use lorazepam for the first time as a prescribed anxiety reducer, a dependence can be formed after repeated use, and an addiction may develop. For this reason, medical professionals usually prescribe drugs like Ativan for only limited amounts of time and warn against prolonged or repeated use. 

Lorazepam abuse can lead to negative long term effects that take a toll on a person’s life. 

This article will show you how to recognize the signs of Ativan abuse and will cover a great treatment option for getting rid of lorazepam addiction.

What is lorazepam (Ativan) and how does addiction develop?

Lorazepam is a sedative drug that has potential for addiction and abuse

Lorazepam is a benzodiazepine drug that is used clinically for anxiety and may also be prescribed for short-term use prior to surgery and for sleep disorders such as insomnia.

This drug works by increasing the amount of the naturally occurring neurotransmitter  gamma-amino-butyric-acid (GABA) in your brain. This decreases activity in your nervous system, which slows you down and promotes a calm, relaxed feeling. On its own, GABA isn’t harmful and can have many positive effects on sleep, stress reduction, and even blood pressure.

When GABA is released in a high amount due to the use of a benzo like lorazepam, the feeling of relaxation that comes with it can be a huge relief, especially for those that suffer from anxiety. 

Unfortunately, the danger of lorazepam lies in the addiction potential. Even when people take the drug as prescribed, a dependency can form. It’s common for people to develop tolerances quickly, and it takes a higher and higher dose to feel the desired effects. This can lead to dependence. In these cases, people may up their doses themselves and begin taking more than was recommended by their doctor. Since prescriptions run out, people may then jump quickly between doctors in order to have access to lorazepam, or they may attempt to buy it illegally. 

It’s also possible that drug users that are addicted to other “downers” are using benzos as a stand-in for other drugs, such as opioids, that may be more difficult to procure.

 Additionally, a physical reliance may form as a result of repeated use, which means you have to take the drug to function “normally”. In this way, the relaxing effects of Ativan can lead to addiction. 

The symptoms and signs of lorazepam addiction

Being aware of the physical and psychological symptoms and signs of lorazepam abuse increases the chance that those afflicted get treatment as quickly as possible. 

Lorazepam addiction symptoms

The effects of lorazepam can be seen outwardly, especially in those with an addiction. The following are physical and psychological symptoms that an Ativan abuser may experience:

  • Constant drowsiness
  • Shallow breathing
  • Excessive sleep
  • Inability to concentrate or learn
  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Uncharacteristic irritability or anxiety
  • Headaches and other symptoms of being physically unwell

Behavioral Signs

Due to physical and psychological effects of repeated Ativan use, an addict may display unusual behavioral changes. These signs can help people better understand the state of their loved ones, or even help Ativan users discover that they have an addiction:

  1. Needing to increase your dose to feel the same effects. This means that a tolerance has been developed, and the originally prescribed dose isn’t strong enough anymore.
  2. Feeling that you need lorazepam to function normally. If you no longer take the drug as directed, but on a more frequent basis, it’s a good indicator of addiction.
  3. Trying to get more lorazepam by any means necessary. This includes switching between doctors quickly in an attempt to get more prescriptions, or attempting to purchase the drug illegally or through other methods. 
  4. Experiencing financial issues due to spending money on lorazepam.
  5. Continuing use despite a negative effect on quality of life.

Get a free online consultation to learn how to manage these symptoms for you or your loved one >>>

Short and long term side effects of lorazepam addiction

Short term side-effects of lorazepam use can occur immediately after the first use and last for as long as the drug is in your system. It usually takes about 10 to 12 hours until your system is clear of Ativan, depending on various factors.

In cases of prolonged Ativan abuse and addiction, the long-term side effects change and become more serious.

Short term effects of lorazepam use

Even for those who are not abusing this benzo, short term side effects of the drug can appear quickly after the first use. These include but are not limited to: 

  • Nausea
  • Weakness or dizziness
  • Tiredness
  • Changes in appetite
  • Difficulty urinating or frequent urination
  • Constipation
  • Blurred vision
  • Restlessness

Long term effects of lorazepam abuse

Both the body and the brain can be affected by continued use or addiction to lorazepam. These long term effects of abuse include but are not limited to:

  • Memory loss
  • Confusion
  • Decreased appetite
  • Bleeding in the digestive system and other gastrointestinal issues
  • Kidney problems
  • Seizures
  • Mouth sores
  • Increased anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches 
  • Continuous fatigue

Serious side effects to be aware of

When taking any drug, there is the possibility of adverse reactions. Being aware of the serious side effects of Ativan is important in the case of an overdose, an allergic reaction, or a dangerous substance interaction. Contact a medical professional if you or a loved one experiences any of the following side effects:

  • Persistent tremor
  • Shuffling walk
  • Severe rash
  • Fever
  • Severely labored breathing or difficulty swallowing
  • Yellowing of the skin or eyes
  • Slurred speech
  • Lack of control of body movements 
  • Mental confusion
  • Coma
Medical expert helping a patient with lorazepam addiction

Treatment for lorazepam abuse

The long term effects and health risks that come along with Ativan addiction can be dangerous and even life-threatening in some cases. When you stop taking lorazepam (or any benzodiazepine drug) the symptoms of withdrawal may cause relapse or serious medical complications. For this reason, it is important to seek help from a professional to get treated. 

Benzodiazepine addiction treatment includes the running of diagnostic tests, benzodiazepine detoxification, evaluation of results, and rehabilitation. In order to beat lorazepam addiction, detoxification must take place, and as stated above, the best place for this process is under the eyes of medical professionals in a facility where the patient can be monitored and given medication to help with withdrawal symptoms as needed.

Providing medical consultation regarding lorazepam addiction treatment

How to get started with treating lorazepam addiction

Get help with detoxing safely and allow addiction treatment experts to walk you through the process.

If you want to find out more about getting rid of your addiction and avoiding relapse, get a free and confidential online consultation. You will discuss treatment options and the various outcomes with an expert of the clinic >>> 

You can expect to go over the following topics:

  1. How addiction will be treated in your case?
  2. Will the treatment help to stop the urges and prevent relapse?
  3. How much does the program cost and how long does it take?

You don’t have to fight against addiction alone. Look into treatment programs today to say goodbye to your lorazepam addiction and take back your life.

Published on February 8, 2021
by Dr Vorobjev Clinic team

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