Is Lorazepam Addictive?

Lorazepam is a benzodiazepine and does have some potential for abuse. The risk of addiction is significantly reduced by following physician instructions.

According to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Ativan is considered a Schedule IV controlled substance which means it has potential for abuse.

An Ativan addiction can begin by developing a physical dependence to the drug. This may occur over time when the medication is not taken as prescribed, or can be caused due to Ativan abuse.

Withdrawal symptoms are a side effect of physical dependence, meaning that a person has met their tolerance with the drug and may need more.

Drug addiction, however, is characterized by the inability to stop taking the drug, despite the harmful consequences that can impact your health, family life, and work life.

Lorazepam Abuse & Addiction

Lorazepam (brand name Ativan) is a prescription drug known as a benzodiazepine that helps treat epilepsy, panic attacks and insomnia caused by anxiety disorders, and alcohol withdrawal.

Lorazepam is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant. When used, this benzodiazepine targets the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain.

Ativan binds to these receptors in the brain, causing one to experience sedation and a decrease in anxiety. Those who take Ativan for an extended period of time or participate in excessive Ativan use can build a tolerance to the drug.

When a person seeks out the high, they may turn to other methods of administration such as snorting or injecting the drug. Some may crush the tablet into powder and snort it while others will mix this powder with liquid to inject into a vein.

Abusing the drug in this way can cause a person to take higher doses than normal. This can be dangerous, as the person may not realize how much of the drug is in their system.

Dangers Of Long-Term Lorazepam Abuse & Addiction

Those participating in benzodiazepine abuse may experience long-term side effects which can cause a number of serious and life-threatening health issues.

Ativan Withdrawal

Some of the symptoms of withdrawal may include:

  • anxiety
  • trouble sleeping
  • tremors
  • dizziness
  • changes in blood pressure
  • irritability

Polydrug Abuse

Those who develop cravings for the drug may turn to other medications to achieve the desired effect. Combining medications to achieve a high is a potential indication of serious drug abuse or a substance use disorder.

Some of the medications to avoid include other benzodiazepines such as diazepam (Valium), clonazepam (Klonopin), and alprazolam (Xanax).

Combining CNS depressants can drastically increase sedation, potentially leading to falls or automobile accidents. Painkillers such as codeine, methadone, oxycodone, and morphine should also be avoided.

Mixing opioids and benzodiazepines can slow down breathing and lead to respiratory depression, coma, or death.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), combining benzodiazepines with alcohol or opioids create a greater risk of overdose and emergency room visits.

Worsened Side Effects Of Lorazepam

Benzodiazepines, including lorazepam, produce a number of short-term side effects that can range from mild to severe.

Some of the more common side effects of Ativan you may experience include:

  • dry mouth
  • sedation
  • changes in sex drive
  • impairment
  • constipation
  • weakness
  • unsteadiness
  • hypotension
  • diarrhea
  • drowsiness
  • nausea

Ativan abuse can cause severe side effects according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), which may include:

  • headache
  • increased heart rate
  • restlessness
  • shortness of breath
  • memory loss
  • fainting
  • respiratory depression

Abusing lorazepam increases the risk of adverse effects, including substance use disorder or addiction.

Benzodiazepine Addiction Treatment

Substance abuse treatment can come in a variety of forms. In fact, there are several helpful ways to treat Ativan addiction.

Medical Detox

Detoxification can be the first step in treating addiction. The detox process allows your body to rid itself of any unwanted toxins caused by drug abuse.

While used for a relatively short amount of time, those undergoing detox may need to be in a highly structured environment. This is why those going through the medical detox process may be accompanied by medical professionals to monitor your progress.

Inpatient & Outpatient Treatment Programs

In addition to detox, which can be a small part of treatment programs, those wishing to achieve sobriety may find inpatient and outpatient treatment options helpful.

Inpatient programs allow you to live in a treatment center surrounded by healthcare professionals and peers with addiction. Outpatient programs are more flexible but can be just as effective, allowing you to travel daily or weekly for scheduled treatment sessions.

Get Help Today

If you or a family member is seeking treatment for lorazepam abuse, consider Northeast Addictions Treatment Center for comprehensive outpatient care. To learn more, please contact us today.

Written by
Northeast Addition Editorial Team

Published on

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This page does not provide medical advice.

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