Lorazepam (brand name Ativan) is a benzodiazepine prescription drug used to help treat anxiety disorders, insomnia, and seizures that occur continuously (status epilepticus). In addition to this, lorazepam is also used to treat alcohol withdrawal.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Ativan is available as a tablet or injection. Ativan tablets consist of 0.5 mg, 1 mg, and 2 mg. The injection consists of 2 mg/mL or 4 mg/mL.
Lorazepam can be taken in regular doses or as needed, depending on the severity of the health issue you’re suffering from. Your healthcare provider will likely decide which dosage is right for you.
Recommended Ativan Daily Dose
According to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the usual prescribed range of Ativan is 2 to 6 mg a day, with the higher dose meant for nighttime use.
This daily dose is spread out throughout the course of the day. Despite this normal range, Ativan can be prescribed in dosage from 1 to 10 mg per day.
Ativan For Anxiety
When it comes to those suffering from a mental health issue such as an anxiety disorder, an initial dose of 2 to 3 mg per day is often prescribed, with the dosage distributed throughout the day.
Those suffering from anxiety that causes sleeping difficulties such as insomnia may be given 2 to 4 mg which can be taken at bedtime.
Ativan & The Elderly
For older adults, it’s important to receive medical advice from your doctor regarding lorazepam.
Initially, elderly patients may be prescribed 1 to 2 mg per day. These lower doses allow your doctor to adjust the medication more easily and safely avoid any adverse effects such as renal or hepatic impairment.
How Ativan Works
Ativan is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant that works by enhancing the effects of the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. This allows activity in the brain to slow down and produce a sedative effect.
Ativan can be prescribed for short-term use to help treat insomnia, panic attacks, and night terrors. Other benzodiazepines include diazepam (Valium), clonazepam (Klonopin), and alprazolam (Xanax). Ativan is not only considered a benzodiazepine, but an anxiolytic and an anticonvulsant as well.
Ativan has a half-life of 14 hours. If a missed dose occurs, take the medication as soon as possible, unless it’s time for your next dose. Lorazepam is offered as an extended-release, but should not be given to anyone younger than 18 years old.
Side Effects Of Ativan Use
Although it provides relief for several health problems, side effects of lorazepam may occur when used as prescribed. Side effects may worsen if the medication is abused.
Common Side Effects
Some of the common side effects of Ativan may include:
- dry mouth
- changes in sex drive
Serious Side Effects
Some of the more serious side effects of Ativan can occur after long-term use or due to Ativan abuse.
Serious side effects may include:
- suicidal ideation
- physical dependence
- withdrawal symptoms
Taking more Ativan than prescribed can lead to a number of life-threatening issues. In fact, those who take high doses of lorazepam may experience adverse reactions and other damaging effects.
Women who are breastfeeding can potentially pass this benzodiazepine drug to their child through breast milk when lactation takes place. If you find out you are pregnant and you currently take Ativan, contact your doctor right away.
Those with acute narrow-angle glaucoma or breathing problems such as sleep apnea should also contact their doctor before taking Ativan. Those who have a hypersensitivity to benzodiazepines should avoid this medication as well.
Be sure to inform your doctor of any medical condition you currently have before taking Ativan.
Drug interactions or allergic reactions can occur if you abuse Ativan with other drugs, including other CNS depressants like opioids or alcohol. This type of polydrug abuse can lead to severe sedation.
Mixing lorazepam with the following substance may be harmful:
- muscle relaxants
- synthetic and semi-synthetic opioids like oxycodone
- supplements or vitamins
Those participating in any form of Ativan abuse may experience an overdose.
Symptoms of an Ativan overdose may include:
- respiratory depression
- hypnotic behavior
- trouble breathing
- low blood pressure
- paradoxical reactions
If you are struggling with lorazepam abuse, healthcare professionals can help. To learn about our addiction treatment options, please contact us today.
Northeast Addition Editorial Team
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This page does not provide medical advice.