Ativan is a benzodiazepine, a class of pharmaceuticals called sedative-hypnotics. Its generic name is lorazepam. Doctors in the United States frequently prescribe this potent medication to treat anxiety, insomnia, muscle spasms, premenstrual syndrome, and many other conditions. Ativan is highly addictive, and patients soon develop tolerances that prompt them to request dangerously imprudent doses, so they keep feeling the same ongoing benefit. Other common benzodiazepines include the potent Valium and Xanax as well as the more mild Klonopin.
How to Take Ativan
In hospitals, patients often receive Ativan via their IVs, through a deep-muscle injection, or by a pill. Like with most other outpatient pharmaceuticals, patients who get a prescription from their doctor’s office fill it at the pharmacy. Doctors usually instruct patients to take the pill two or three times per day. Often, the evening dose is higher because of its powerful sleep-promoting properties.
Because Ativan is habit forming, patients should expect their prescribing doctors to ask them about their history of substance abuse, if any. They may also inquire if addiction issues are common in their families. To help patients avoid the subtle snares of addiction, many doctors refuse to prescribe this particular benzodiazepine for medium-or long-term treatment. Patients who use it over an extended period of time usually notice that the benefits diminish. For example, their anxiety creeps back in or their sleep-filled nights steadily become shorter and shorter. These are symptoms of Ativan dependence. And, they are red flags suggesting that it’s time to schedule an appointment with the doctor and reevaluate their treatment strategy.
To lower the risk of addiction or other complications, take the medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor or pharmacist. Patients should avoid discontinuing Ativan abruptly or on their own. Instead, they should work with their doctor to create a schedule that tapers use over time. Reducing Ativan gradually reduces the discomfort and the sudden return of symptoms. Most people take weeks to diminish their dose to zero.
What Are the Side Effects?
Some of the most common side effects of Ativan include headache, heartburn, constipation, nausea, dizziness and lightheadedness, drowsiness, blurred vision, dry mouth and lack of coordination or unsteadiness. The patient should inform the doctors of these symptoms.
Taking Ativan may also lead to some severe side effects such as hallucinations, mental and mood changes, difficulty walking, breathing issues and thoughts of suicide. Patients should alert their doctors right away if they experience these urgent symptoms.
Is Ativan Addictive?
Like many drugs, Ativan can cause physical dependence. Dependence is a component of addiction. An individual who is addicted is physically dependent, but not all individuals who are physically dependent will become addicted. The abuse sneaks up on its victims. It’s a bad idea to confront people who may be ensnared in an abuse disorder. He or she may not recognize the problem yet. For example, what if the Ativan has been working? What if the drug is miraculously helping the individual manage their life-long anxiety? The person who is using the drug may only see the real and substantial benefits. In these tricky situations, addiction counselors can help equip family and friends with the skills and timing they need to extend a caring hand.
The omens that a person may be addicted are psychological and behavioral. Some of them include:
- Increased nervousness
- Sleep disturbances
- Muscle cramps
- Secretive behaviors when taking the medication
- Pills that seem to disappear
- Multiple prescriptions acquired from various pharmacies
- Prescriptions that run out too quickly
- Inability to concentrate
- Slurred speech
- Slowed breathing or heart rate
- Excessive sleepiness or drowsiness
When more signs are present, the individual is more likely to be ensnared with a severe case of substance abuse disorder.
Ativan Addiction Treatment
It is crucial to get addiction treatment as quickly as possible for Ativan-related abuse disorder. Some of the most commonly used psycho-behavioral therapies in drug rehab are:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy for managing triggers and cravings
- Dialectical behavior therapy
- Motivational enhancement therapy
- Community reinforcement approach
- Contingency management interventions
Fortunately, many people who enter addiction treatment for Ativan abuse can gain the skills and tools needed to cease using the drug and manage their substance use disorder with determination and commitment.