Drug and Alcohol

Ativan Withdrawal: Ativan Addiction, Withdrawal, and More

Ativan Withdrawal: What is Ativan Withdrawal Like?

Ativan withdrawal is the result of Ativan addiction. However, done with professional help, it's easier to get through. Learn more in our blog.

Ativan is a potent benzodiazepine with a high risk of overuse and addiction. Ativan street names include Stupefy, Goofballs, Benzos, and Heavenly Blues. Taking Ativan at any time can lead to physical and psychological dependence, depending on factors such as genetics and personal history.

People who have a history of drug and/or alcohol misuse, as well as untreated mental health conditions, are more likely to develop an Ativan addiction.

A person addicted to Ativan may develop cravings and continue using it despite the problems it may create. However, misusing Ativan and quitting its consumption can lead to severe withdrawal effects that can be fatal if not dealt with in a professional setting. 

One of the biggest stumbling blocks in recovery is benzo withdrawal.

Ativan withdrawal, like that of other benzodiazepines, should always be done with professional help at a drug detox center or at a drug rehab. Using medically assisted detox in an inpatient or outpatient facility can help the patient sustain an easy and comfortable recovery.

Healthcare practitioners will provide round-the-clock supervision and care, approaching a successful recovery. 

What Is Ativan? 

Lorazepam or Ativan belongs to the benzodiazepine class of drugs. Benzodiazepines are employed mainly in tackling anxiety and seizure conditions and as muscle relaxants. Such medicines operate on the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter system known as GABA or gamma-aminobutyric acid, which is present in the brain.

The action of these chemical transmitters causes a decrease in stimulation in the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) because of the repression of neuronal activity. 

The US Drug Enforcement Administration classifies Ativan as a Schedule IV substance, suggesting that it has a moderate likelihood of misuse and the incidence of bodily dependence. The likelihood of bodily reliance makes it a medication that will unavoidably trigger a condition known as withdrawal syndrome in long-term users and misusers who attempt to discontinue it. 

What Is Ativan Withdrawal? 

Those who have an addiction to Ativan can expect withdrawal symptoms if they stop using the medicine or drastically reduce their prescribed amount. Individuals who strictly adhere to a prescribed amount and use only the specified dosage may suffer from withdrawal symptoms. Individuals have reported developing a physical reliance on Ativan in just a few days. 

Withdrawal occurs when a person who uses Ativan depends on the drug to operate properly. When the medicine is cleansed, the brain, neurological system, and other vital organs must adapt as they retrain how to function normally without Ativan. The person using it will encounter varied emotional and physical pain through withdrawal symptoms throughout this time.

The degree of seriousness and length of Ativan withdrawal symptoms will be determined by the quantity of drug taken and its frequency of consumption, in addition to other variables, including medical background and underlying psychological health issues. 

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What Are Ativan Withdrawal Symptoms? 

There are 2 phases of Ativan withdrawal: critical and prolonged. 

Acute Ativan Withdrawal

Acute or critical withdrawal, sometimes known as "withdrawal," comprises psychological as well as physical symptoms. The following are examples of common acute signs of withdrawal: 

  • Anxiety or panic attacks 

  • Drug cravings 

  • Sleeplessness 

  • Severe headaches 

  • Irritation 

  • Confusion 

  • Shakiness in hands and body 

  • Profuse sweating 

  • Lack of concentration 

  • Stomach pain 

  • Nausea 

  • Increased heart rate 

  • Muscle and body cramps 

  • Shifts in mood 

  • Change in blood pressure 

  • Loss of weight 

  • Increased heart palpitations 

  • Drowsiness and vomiting 

Patients must undergo a clinically managed detoxification process to avoid acute withdrawal effects and to reduce the risk of harmful and uncommon withdrawal side effects like delusions. 

Prolonged Ativan Withdrawal

Extended or delayed withdrawal, also termed PAWS or post-acute withdrawal syndrome, represents withdrawal signs, generally emotional and behavioral, after acute withdrawal. Some individuals might not encounter a prolonged withdrawal.

Standard symptoms of prolonged Ativan withdrawal include: 

  • Memory impairment 

  • Anxiety 

  • Irregular sleep cycle 

  • Drug cravings 

  • Depression 

  • Problem focusing 

  • Incapacity to feel satisfaction 

  • Dysphoria

  • Signs of obsessive-compulsive disorder 

  • Decreased lack of interest in once-liked activities 

  • A constant state of lethargy 

Can Ativan Withdrawal Be Avoided?

Ativan withdrawal, like other forms of benzo withdrawal, can be highly unpleasant and difficult.

Doctors recommend weaning off Ativan instead of stopping "cold turkey," as this can prove to be hazardous. People who cease their consumption of Ativan without initially weaning themselves might develop serious Ativan withdrawal effects, including delusions, psychotic behavior, and seizures or fits.

However, it’s important to keep in mind one important fact: Ativan withdrawal is much easier when done at a professional drug rehab. With medical assistance, Ativan withdrawal is safer, much more comfortable, and more likely to be successful.

Ativan Withdrawal: Rebound Symptoms

Rebound symptoms are transient, intensified return of the symptoms that drove the person to take Ativan in the first place, such as anxiety or insomnia. Rebound anxiety and/or insomnia typically occur 2-3 days following the acute withdrawal phase of detox. Many people relapse because they are unable to handle their rebound anxiety. 

Around 10-35% of people who detox from Ativan will have rebound symptoms. Weaning off Ativan can assist in managing rebound effects until a better treatment option is found. 

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How Long Does Ativan Withdrawal Last?

The time frame of Ativan withdrawal varies from person to person. Those who take bigger dosages of Ativan take the medication more often and, for a greater amount of time, typically endure longer, more serious withdrawal symptoms. Ativan, being an intermediate-duration medication, stays in the body for a standard duration of 12 hours. 

Acute Ativan withdrawal can occur within 10 to 24 hours of the last dose being taken; however, this time varies by individual and may be longer or shorter for others. Acute withdrawal symptoms typically persist for 10 to 14 days before subsiding over the next few weeks. Symptoms in more severe cases might continue for months.

Due to a lack of studies, there is no defined duration for Ativan withdrawal. 

Some people report discomfort for several months, whereas others report problems for a maximum of two years. The emotional consequences of prolonged Ativan withdrawal can occasionally lead those in recovery to believe that life without substances isn’t worth living. It is critical to address extended Ativan withdrawal symptoms in treatment to avoid relapse. 

What Is the Timeline for Ativan Withdrawal?

Many factors determine how long Ativan withdrawal lasts. Age, weight, the amount of time spent using Ativan, and more all affect how long it lasts.

However, most people will go through the following timeline: 

Ativan Withdrawal: Days 1 to 3

Severe withdrawal effects like nausea and extreme headache generally start between the initial 24 hours following stopping the consumption. 

Ativan Withdrawal: Days 4 to 7

Ativan withdrawal symptoms seem to rise throughout this duration. The effects and degree of seriousness differ among individuals but might include shakiness, drug cravings, and agitation. 

Ativan Withdrawal: Days 8 to 14

During the second week, withdrawal symptoms normally fade. Acute withdrawal symptoms should have substantially if not entirely, faded by this point. Rebound symptoms, which can include intense anxiety, a high heart rate, a rise in blood pressure, and insomnia, typically appear 2-3 days after acute withdrawal ends. 

Ativan Withdrawal: Days 15 and Beyond

At this point, the worst portion is usually over. The acute withdrawal symptoms should have mostly subsided. Any remaining symptoms should be minor. Some Ativan users may experience prolonged withdrawal symptoms. 

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What Factors Affect Ativan Withdrawal?

As we’ve said, many factors determine how long Ativan withdrawal lasts. The experience is different for everyone.

That said, here’s a deeper look at the factors which influence how long Ativan withdrawal lasts:

History of Ativan Use

It’s easy to develop a tolerance to Ativan quickly. Many people who develop a tolerance to Ativan take large doses of the drug. Plus, they often take more doses of Ativan to stave off Ativan withdrawal symptoms. The higher the dose and frequency of Ativan use, the more severe and long Ativan withdrawal symptoms will be.

Personal Physiology

A person’s age, weight, individual metabolism, history of addiction, and any co-occurring diseases all affect how long Ativan withdrawal lasts.

Other Drugs Being Used

Many people experiencing Ativan addiction are polydrug users, meaning Ativan isn’t the only drug they use. Alcohol, opioids, stimulants, and more all have their own withdrawal symptoms, and this can seriously affect how long (and how intense) Ativan withdrawal can be.

What Is Ativan Detox Like?

People who are dependent on Ativan and similar benzodiazepines benefit from medical drug detox. Medicines can assist in reducing symptoms of Ativan withdrawal, and render the detoxification procedure a little less painful.

It is also best to detox in the presence of a healthcare professional because they can supervise an Ativan addict throughout the process and react accordingly if any withdrawal effect becomes fatal. 

During Ativan detox, users often taper off with decreasing amounts until their bodies become less dependent on the drug. To assist in weaning the person off Ativan, a doctor may prescribe a less strong benzodiazepine with a longer half-life. This process of weaning down can take many weeks to several months, but will make Ativan withdrawal easier.

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Can Medications Help with Ativan Withdrawal?

Medical drug detox can help with Ativan withdrawal symptoms. The initiative should be overseen by a medical professional who can gradually reduce the person's Ativan dosage, reducing withdrawal symptoms. Also, a drug detox center can monitor the patient and administer drugs to help the process. 

Some substances or medications can be administered to help in the withdrawal procedure.

Ativan Withdrawal: Melatonin

At times, during detoxification from Ativan, a hormone called melatonin is utilized that produces sleep. The administration of melatonin is backed by research accomplished by the American Medical Association (JAMA). It states that melatonin can be beneficial in tackling insomnia in people withdrawing from benzodiazepines like Ativan. 

Ativan Withdrawal: Paxil

Paroxetine Or Paxil, an antidepressant, also possesses some research evidence to imply that it can assist people in easing painful Ativan withdrawal effects linked with Ativan detox. This research has been conducted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). It is further associated with a rise in the percentage of successful Ativan withdrawal rates.

While doctors might use several medicines to tackle certain specific signs during withdrawal, no medicines are especially addressed in treating benzodiazepine or Ativan withdrawal. Additionally, a meta-analysis undertaken in 2006 by NCBI implied that the most efficient approach to managing withdrawal did not involve the utilization of medicines; rather, it included a weaning approach throughout the withdrawal procedure from Ativan or other benzodiazepines. 

Ativan Withdrawal: What Is Ativan Abuse?

According to the DEA, Ativan is a Schedule IV drug. Lorazepam can cause mental and physical dependence if used for an extended period. Individuals with a history of alcohol abuse or psychological issues appear more vulnerable to Lorazepam addiction.

Like other benzos, people may develop physical dependence on Ativan. It might be difficult for someone suffering from a chemical dependency to stop using Ativan.

Symptoms of Ativan abuse include:

  • Inability to meet obligations at work, school, college, or family

  • Fiscal deficits in monthly budgets due to spending a lot on drugs and other substances

  • Getting involved in difficult situations due to addictive nature

  • A lack of interest in previously liked hobbies and activities

  • Separating yourself from social events and meetings

  • Becoming a concern for close family and friends

Individuals with a long history of Ativan addiction may develop a tolerance to Ativan. When a person takes a drug for an extended period, a higher dose is required to achieve the same outcomes. Developing a sensitivity to Ativan may put a person battling drug addiction at risk of overdose. 

What Does an Ativan Overdose Look Like?

An Ativan overdose is possible at any dosage above what your doctor has prescribed. Mixing Ativan with other drugs, especially alcohol, can also result in a fatal benzo overdose. The same caution applies to everyone using a range of prescribed medications. Accidents involving benzodiazepines can be either unintentional or planned.

In either case, it is vital to understand the signs and symptoms of Ativan overdose.

Here are a few examples: 

  • Tiredness and a lack of energy 

  • Incoherent behavior 

  • Excessive drooling 

  • Dissociative experiences 

  • Organ dysfunction (kidney failure)

  • Brain and spinal cord inhibition produces severe respiratory failure (leading to cardiac arrest, paralysis, or death)

Is Ativan Addiction Treatable?

Treatment in an inpatient or outpatient drug rehab program will give Ativan users the highest chance of recovery, and also make Ativan withdrawal easier. These programs can aid in the detoxification process, making it safer and more comfortable. They will also teach you how to stay sober during your recovery. 

Addiction treatment can assist Ativan users in connecting with the support they will need during their recovery. The relationships formed and insights learned in treatment can assist Ativan addicts in recovering and leading a full, happy, and addiction-free life. Contact a treatment provider immediately for assistance in locating an Ativan addiction treatment program.

Ativan Withdrawal Can Be Very Difficult Alone. At The Edge Treatment Center, You’re Not

The abuse of prescription drugs in the US is truly a cause for major concern. But the good news is that treatment for Ativan addiction or other prescription drugs is available.

We’re not going to lie. Ativan withdrawal can be very difficult. But you don’t have to go through Ativan withdrawal alone. With the right help, it can be the first step to a happier life.

Our team at The Edge Treatment Center is dedicated and specialized in helping people struggling with benzo addiction. We have expert healthcare professionals, addiction specialists, and therapists on board to support you throughout your recovery journey. Over the past few years, we have had many patients come to us for help and leave happy with their progress in overcoming addictions.

If you’d like to learn more about our evidence-based Ativan treatment program, reach out to The Edge Treatment Center today.

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If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, there is hope. Our team can guide you on your journey to recovery. Call us today.

Written by

brian-mooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

jeremy-arztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

Drug and Alcohol

July 19, 2023