Why Do So Many People Use Benzodiazepines
In 2011, over 127 million benzodiazepine prescriptions were filled in the United States.
Benzodiazepine medications like Ativan are so popular in America because the need is so prevalent. Consider just two conditions that typically call for a benzo prescriptionanxiety and insomnia.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 40 million American adults struggle with an anxiety disorder approximately 18% of the entire US population. This makes anxiety disorders the most common type of mental illness in the country.
The National Institutes of Health reports that roughly 30% of the general population in America struggles with sleep disruption. Interestingly, there are significant differences in how common insomnia is among the various age demographics:
- 18-29: 68%
Sign #8 You Experience Painful Symptoms When Your Medication Isnt Available
If you ARE drug dependent, then within just a few hours of your last dose, you will go into withdrawal if you dont take more Ativan.
Symptoms of benzodiazepine withdrawal include:
- Extreme restlessness and agitation
- Anxiety to the point of panic
- Severe depression
- Sensitivity to light, sound, smell, and touch
At its most severe, benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome can cause your body temperature to rise drastically. You may even experience seizures or convulsions. These symptoms would qualify as a medical emergency because they are potentially fatal.
This is why you should NEVER attempt to cut back or quit Ativan or other benzodiazepines unless you are under the close supervision of a doctor.
Physical Effects Of Ativan Use
Ativan may cause the enzymes in the liver to increase, which is often an indication of inflamed or damaged liver tissue. Jaundicea yellowing of the skin or eyes frequently related to liver damagemay also result from Ativan use.
Changes may occur in a persons appetite, weight, and sexual desire. The sedative effects of Ativan can lead to vertigo , weakness of the muscles and loss of coordination or bodily control.
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What Is Samhsas National Helpline
SAMHSAs National Helpline, , or TTY: is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations. Callers can also order free publications and other information.
Also visit the online treatment locators.
Ativan Abuse Treatment Self
While experts strongly recommend against self-care at home for Ativan abuse, attempting to quit on your own is entirely possible. Just do it safely. This section of our guide is intended to help you understand the basics of self-care at home. The first thing to note is that you will undergo withdrawal.
If you have been taking Ativan for any length of time, your body has likely developed at least some level of tolerance. As you use the drug less, your body has to compensate accordingly. You will experience withdrawal symptoms that include cravings, insomnia, anxiety, mood swings, abdominal cramps, nausea, and more.
You should also note that there are two kinds of Ativan withdrawal: acute and protracted withdrawal. The former describes what is normally considered routine withdrawal and includes the symptoms listed above. It is usually over within 10 to 15 days.
Protracted withdrawal occurs when certain withdrawal symptoms persist even after acute withdrawal is over. These persistent symptoms are almost always psychological rather than physical.
As withdrawal symptoms can be extremely uncomfortable, it is best to withdraw gradually. Rather than quitting Ativan cold turkey, it is better to step down the amount of the drug used gradually. Withdrawal symptoms may last longer this way, but they will be less severe. They should also be easier to fight through so as to not succumb to the temptation to use more Ativan.
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What If I Forget To Take It
If you forget to take your lorazepam:
- for anxiety if it’s less than 3 hours since your missed dose, take it as soon as you remember. If more than 3 hours have passed, skip the missed dose.
- for sleep problems leave out the missed dose if you have not taken it by bedtime. Take you usual dose the next night.
- before an operation or procedure read any information you were given by the hospital about your procedure, which may have advice about missed doses. If it does not, call the hospital to ask what to do next.
If you forget to take lorazepam, never take a double dose to make up for a forgotten tablet.
Medical Detox: A Tapered Approach
Although tapering off the drug can take longer than just ceasing use of Ativan, it is much safer. The tapering process, sometimes called titration, can take about six months, although it might last longer in some cases, depending on the doctors recommendation and the patients symptoms.
Tapering is especially important for benzodiazepine abuse, since most people who struggle with addiction to Ativan at one time received a legitimate prescription for the medication. This means they have underlying mental health conditions that must be carefully monitored. Some of these conditions, such as anxiety, panic, insomnia, and even seizures, can either be withdrawal symptoms or the original, underlying condition asserting itself. For people attempting to detox from Ativan cold turkey, this recurrence of symptoms can cause them to relapse because they believe they still need the medication however, a doctor can determine whether the symptoms are the original condition or symptoms of withdrawal.
This process can guide ongoing treatment, which can include switching to a long-acting benzodiazepine like diazepam or taking small doses of an antidepressant to ease symptoms. Other medications, such as anti-seizure medications or antipsychotics, can also be used during the detox process, to ease more serious symptoms of benzodiazepine withdrawal.
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How Ativan Is Used
Ativan is an anti-anxiety medication. It is prescribed to treat panic attacks, short-term anxiety, and symptoms of depression. It is also prescribed to treat issues such as epilepsy and insomnia. Ativan can also be prescribed to manage withdrawal symptoms due to alcohol detoxification. Due to the high potency of Ativan, it is rarely prescribed for longer than a few months.1
Ativan works by blocking a neurotransmitter to slow hyperactive mental processes. The substance is typically sold as a quick-dissolve tablet. It can sometimes be found in a concentrated and colorless liquid. When prescribed, it is typically consumed orally. Only a healthcare professional can administer Ativan via IV drip. This is due to the high potential for abuse. It can take 20 to 100 hours for the drug to leave a persons system. It can be given by mouth or as an injection into a vein or muscle.
The generic name for the brand name of Ativan is lorazepam. This benzodiazepine medication is not only used to treat anxiety disorders, insomnia, depression, and epilepsy it is also prescribed to treat active seizures and chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. Additional uses are:
To interfere with memory formation during surgery
To sedate someone who is mechanically ventilated
For acute coronary syndrome due to cocaine use
You might hear Ativan called heavenly blues, goofballs, stupefy, and benzos.
Is Lorazepam An Opioid
In this way, benzodiazepines like lorazepam may be abused similarly to opioids, so a common misconception may be that the two are similar or the same drug. In fact, they are very different. Benzos are nervous system depressants that are used to treat anxiety, while opioids or narcotics are pain relievers. Put simply, both are commonly abused drugs but are prescribed for different reasons and have different effects on the body.
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Genies Way Of Getting Off Ativan
Genie reports tapering off with the use of Valium. In Genies story, she says she had no idea that Ativan could be addictive when she became addicted through illness. A thyroid problem was causing insomnia, and so her doctor prescribed Ativan to help her sleep.
When the same doctor later prescribed a larger dose, Genie assumed it was because of her worsening thyroid condition, not due to her growing tolerance . As Genie tells it:
I wont say my Diazepam taper was a piece of cake, but it saved my life. I was able to recover from my other illnesses and to taper myself slowly off the Diazepam. And, I certainly went slowly. I used the 10 percent tapering method even to the very end. Many folks jump off .5 mg of Diazepam, as Ashton recommends, and have lots of symptoms. I jumped off of a 10th of that dose, namely .05 mg of Diazepam, and I only have a few lingering symptoms, mainly fatigue and sweating. From Benzo Support
Depression And Emotional Blunting
An association has been noted between benzodiazepine use and depressive symptoms and, in some cases, the emergence of suicidal ideation. Some evidence indicates that higher benzodiazepine dosages are associated with an increased risk of depression and that reducing the dosage or discontinuing therapy may resolve the depressive symptoms.15 Although the mechanism of this action is unclear, benzodiazepine-related depression might occur as a physiologic result of a reduction in central monoamine activity.
Emotional anesthesia may also be seen in clinical practice. This effect may be sought by drug addicts who become progressively more incapable of tolerating their emotions and life stressors.
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How Long Will Ativan Withdrawal Symptoms Last
Consuming Ativan in therapeutic doses for three to six weeks can result in physical dependence and withdrawal symptoms.
Statistics show around 40% of people on Lorazepam for more than six months face moderate or severe symptoms when the drug is stopped suddenly, whereas 60% have mild symptoms.
The intensity of withdrawal symptoms will depend on your current dose or whether you are mixing Ativan with another type of Benzodiazepine. Symptoms appear in 8-12 hours after the cessation of the drug. Ativan withdrawal has a collective impact on the one misusing the prescription and those around him.
Withdrawal is a difficult challenge with an uncomfortable experience. Regular users of Ativan will be addicted to it unknowingly. Fear and despair are some of the few feelings experienced by Lorazepam users when the drug is unavailable or when the time between doses is long.
Management Of Ativan Misuse And Dependence
There is a philosophy of management within the sphere of treating Ativan misuse and dependence. Management becomes a strategy when a patient clearly demonstrates an Ativan problem but is not willing to consider a change. The goal of management is to prevent both doctor-shopping and a worsening of the problem.
Doctors look to manage Ativan misuse and dependence through a number of different therapies. Interviewing techniques look to help the patient understand his or her problem form the starting place. Through interviewing techniques, the doctor can try to establish either a maintenance therapy or a new Ativan prescription regimen that slowly withdraws the patient.
How a doctor approaches management depends on the level of risk presented by the patient. Low-risk patients can be treated with a maintenance regimen until they are ready to see the change. Patients at high risk of dependence or additional problems have to be treated more cautiously.
A good management tool that doctors have at their disposal is something known as staged dispensing. Dispensing prescription medication in stages is essentially administering it in small doses with regular follow-up. For example, rather than giving the patient a prescription lasting for 30 days, the patient may receive a single dose for a single day, followed by a visit with the doctor on the following day.
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Is It Ever Okay For An Older Adult To Take Benzodiazepines
Benzodiazepines, like all drugs and medical interventions, need to be considered by balancing their likely benefits with their burdens and harms.
There are some older patients often with severe chronic anxiety who seem to overall benefit from a low dose of these drugs.
Ideally, benzodiazepines should be used as a last resort, after making a serious attempt to treat insomnia and anxiety with non-drug approaches. These can include techniques such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, regular exercise, and stress-reduction techniques. For people with dementia, providing caregivers with coaching on managing difficult behaviors can also help.
I do have some older patients who are on benzodiazepines. I dont like it, but usually weve tried other things, discussed the risks with the family, and concluded that this balance of benefits versus risks is acceptable. We also usually work to find the lowest possible dose.
Sign #16 Its Affecting Your Personal Relationships
Try as you might, you cannot completely disguise your problematic Ativan use from the people closest to you. They are in an unfortunate position to see firsthand the consequences of your addiction the lies, broken promises, manipulation, excuses, and denial.
What kind of problems might you be experiencing?
- A friend, family member, or coworker expresses concern or repeatedly asks you Are you all right?
- Increased arguments
- Identity Theft
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Severe Side Effects Of Lorazepam
Though it can be effective for therapeutic treatment in most patients who take the drug for a short period of time, Ativan can trigger a host of serious side effects, especially if it is used outside of a doctors prescription. That is, if used in higher doses than prescribed, more frequently than prescribed, in combination with other substances, or without a prescription, the risk of serious side effects may be greater. These effects include:
Lorazepam Addiction Withdrawal Symptoms
It is important to understand what happens when you are addicted to Ativan. After prolonged use, your body needs the drug to function. If you suddenly stop taking this medication, your body will go into withdrawal and experience very painful and dangerous symptoms.
Here are a few of the many withdrawal symptoms associated with Lorazepam:
- Head to toe body aches
- Coma or death
These symptoms can be absolutely unbearable. Most people who try to quit this drug on their own are simply unable to do so because the withdrawal process is so painful.
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Side Effects Of Ativan Addiction Understanding The Dangers
Did you know 50 thousand people were admitted to the emergency room in 2011 due to Lorazepam complications?
This is the price that people paid for spiritual liberation alone. You can see that once you step on the road of drug abuse, it is not so difficult to ignore your mental and physical health. Then the dangers and warning signs seem to disappear.
For a while, you may not feel the changes your body goes through once it has adjusted to the presence of Lorazepam in the system, but in the long run, it doesnt take much time for short and long-term side effects of Lorazepam to manifest.
Ativan: Results Are Sometimes Unpredictable
Ativan and close relatives like Xanax and Valium, are often considered light-weight tranquilizers by therapists*2. In some ways the benzo prescription can be a wild card. It can take effect in ways that are dramatically different than expected. And most people who have experience with Ativan for anxiety recommend that others work closely with their doctors or psychiatrists early on to ensure getting the desired effect.
Like other benzodiazepines, Ativan can exhibit paradoxical effects. For example, instead of the expected peaceful behavior, the user might find him or herself getting irritable and have trouble sleeping. While Ativan is less unpredictable than some of its benzo relatives, studies still show differences in reactions that vary widely from one individual to the next.
Over longer periods of time, the effects of Ativan will most likely deteriorate, possibly to the point of causing:
- Occasionally enhancing the very thing it was first taken to overcome
At this point the brain has been altered and quitting abruptly is not recommended.
What If I Miss A Dose
If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you can. However, if its just a few hours until your next dose, skip the missed dose and take the next one on schedule.
Never try to catch up by taking two doses at a time. This can cause dangerous side effects.
The Food and Drug Administration approves drugs to treat certain conditions. Ativan is approved to treat several conditions. In addition, its sometimes used off-label for purposes that arent approved by the FDA.
How Should I Take Ativan
Take Ativan exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Follow the directions on your prescription label and read all medication guides. Never use Ativan in larger amounts, or for longer than prescribed. Tell your doctor if you feel an increased urge to use more of this medicine.
Never share this medicine with another person, especially someone with a history of drug abuse or addiction. MISUSE CAN CAUSE ADDICTION, OVERDOSE, OR DEATH. Keep the medication in a place where others cannot get to it. Selling or giving away this medicine is against the law.
Do not take Ativan for longer than 4 months unless your doctor tells you to. Call your doctor if your symptoms do not improve, or if they get worse.
If you use this medicine long-term, you may need frequent medical tests.
Do not stop using Ativan suddenly, or you could have unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Follow your doctor’s instructions about tapering your dose.
Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat.
Keep track of your medicine. You should be aware if anyone is using it improperly or without a prescription.
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Effects Of Lorazepam Abuse
Many people become addicted to the way lorazepam makes them feel because this drug causes people to become relaxed. This is accomplished through lorazepams ability to boost the influence of a brain chemical called GABA.
Increased GABA helps to calm brain activity, which results in a more tranquil physical and mental status. Effects provided by a lorazepam high can include:
- Increased ability to sleep.
- Improved feelings of satisfaction with life.
- Reduced inhibitions.
Its important to know that effects arent all desirable. Furthermore, the fact that a drug is legal does not make it safeespecially when it is abused. Negative effects of lorazepam abuse include:
- Personality changes.
- Agitation, depression, and suicidal thoughts during comedown off the drug.
Over time, the compulsive cycle of abuse and intermittent withdrawal may also lead to increased depression and worsening anxiety.