Ativan is a type of tranquilizer and works in the brain by attaching to the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors. It’s an effective sedative because it suppresses chemical messages received by nerve receptors, which result in a feeling of calmness.
In most cases, using Ativan as prescribed doesn’t affect the respiratory or heart systems; however, with addiction and abuse, both heart and respiratory failure are a possible side effect.
What is Lorazepam Prescribed For?
Physicians have also realized the merits of Ativan beyond anxiety treatment. It is increasingly prescribed for sleep issues and those afflicted with panic attacks. However, side effects can become dangerous and even deadly when Ativan is abused.
A common side effect is drowsiness, but that can escalate to a coma or even death when abused. Trouble breathing, poor coordination, and confusion (which can lead to injuries) can also occur when Ativan is abused.
Doctors may prescribe Ativan for a range of issues including manic bipolar disorder (as a means of treating some symptoms), restlessness, nausea, muscle spasms, psychosis from alcohol withdrawal, and vomiting when it’s caused by cancer treatments.
However, it’s important to remember that Ativan is a very addictive drug. It’s very difficult for users to let go of a drug that makes them feel euphoric and gives them good rest. Ideally, Ativan should only be prescribed for those suffering from the worst symptoms it treats or for short periods of time.
Signs of Ativan Abuse
Ativan can affect people in many ways—there’s no single set of Ativan abuse symptoms that will apply to every person. Some people like the calm feelings they get with Ativan while others experience hallucinations (which may or may not be pleasurable).
When a person is physically dependent on Ativan, they build up a tolerance and will need more of the drug to achieve the same effects. You might notice yourself or a loved one hoarding pills, hopping from clinic to clinic to get more, or purchasing Ativan illegally.
When addiction occurs, physical, psychological, and behavioral changes can be observed. Addicts will spend a lot of time, money, and energy feeding their habit. Their work, school, and relationships will probably suffer.
Withdrawal symptoms will also begin to appear when the addict goes too long without Ativan. There’s a slight difference between addiction and physical dependence—however, dependence is a part of addiction. A person who is physically dependent isn’t necessarily addicted (yet), but they are at a high risk of being addicted soon.
Addicts might sweat excessively, have insomnia, or panic attacks. In rare cases, hallucinations have been reported along with derealization and seizures.
Ativan Withdrawal Symptoms
Many people understand that overdoses are dangerous, but what they fail to realize is that withdrawal symptoms can be just as dangerous. The dangers increase when a user is a long-term addict or has built up a strong tolerance. This is why it’s critical to only trust a medically-supervised rehab and detox center to help addicts clean out their bodies. Withdrawal symptoms from any benzodiazepine drug can be intense and dangerous.
Bear in mind that not all addicts necessarily buy their drugs on the streets. They might have a real need and prescription for the drug. However, serious addictions can often begin with good (and legal) intentions.
Ativan withdrawal includes both physical and psychological symptoms. These symptoms can include:
- Hand tremors
- Nausea and vomiting
- Difficulty concentrating
- Abdominal cramps
- Muscle pain and stiffness
- Panic attacks
- Weight loss
- Mood swings
- Blood pressure changes
- Rapid heart rate
Street Names for Ativan
There aren’t many street names strictly for Ativan. Instead, there are nicknames for a wide range of benzodiazepines.
A few include “Benzos” and “Candy,” but more typically Ativan might just be called sleeping pills, sedatives, downers, or tranquilizers.
Treatment for Ativan Addiction
Treatment for Ativan or any drug should only be undertaken in a safe, medically-assisted detox and rehab facility. This is too dangerous of a drug to try a DIY or family-assisted detox. An inpatient or outpatient facility will provide an addict with the best chance for a successful recovery.
Treatment for addiction often focuses on a variety of approaches. Experts will experiment and pinpoint the best strategy for each individual. Common approaches include:
- Community reinforcement
- Dialectical behavior therapy
- Motivational enhancement therapy
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
Psychotherapy helps the patient not only detox from Ativan, but also equips them with tools and skills to use throughout life to help fight their addiction.
Addressing the root of addiction and helping patients figure out what triggers them to turn to drugs is an important part of detox and rehab.
Cognitive behavioral therapy in particular has proven to be very successful in helping people live a drug-free life for good. Some patients prefer to include 12-step approaches while others rely heavily on family therapy.
Having a positive support network of family and friends is fantastic when it’s available, but it should be part of the recovery, not the entirety of it.
If you know someone struggling with Ativan addiction, let Northeast Addictions Treatment Center help them get free and clear of Ativan. Getting the right help quickly is paramount for success.
Northeast Addition Editorial Team
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This page does not provide medical advice.