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Ativan Withdrawal

The purpose of Ativan is to treat symptoms associated with anxiety, and it has become a valuable medication when it’s used as prescribed. Anxiety disorders rank among the most common mental disorders in the United States and nearly 40 million adults over the age of 18 struggle annually. An estimated 18.1 percent of the adult population struggles with some type of mental illness, which makes anxiety medication like Ativan a highly sought out medicine. 

Ativan makes anxiety disorders treatable, but studies show that only 36.9 percent of those struggling with anxiety will seek help. Individuals struggling with anxiety disorders are six times more likely to be hospitalized for a psychiatric disorder than someone who does not have the condition.

Benzodiazepines were synthesized as a less addictive alternative to barbiturates, which are deadly medications once used to treat insomnia, anxiety, and seizures. Anxiety is an often crippling disorder that can remove someone from their daily lives, and the purpose of benzodiazepines is to give an individual their lives back. When they are used as prescribed, it can be a useful tool while battling the condition.

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While many will use their medications responsibly, a vast majority of individuals will end up abusing the drug – if Ativan is not used as prescribed or taken at higher doses, it may lead to chemical dependency that causes severe withdrawal symptoms. In extreme cases, they can be deadly.

Benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms are amongst the most deadly of all drugs. During this process, you must be monitored to ensure you are safe during the detox process. Ativan withdrawal is often unbearable, but it can also be deadly. Let’s take a look below at how Ativan withdrawal is treated.

What Is Ativan?

Ativan is a benzodiazepine medication that is classified by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as a Schedule IV substance. It also goes by lorazepam, and can only be obtained with a prescription. The drug was initially thought to be a failure and was shelved for a year. It was later stumbled onto by a colleague of the synthesizer and viewed as a potential to replace barbiturates. 

Ativan’s sole purpose is to treat anxiety disorder, but in some cases, it may also be used to treat epileptic disorders and seizures. It is classified as a central nervous system (CNS) depressant, which includes other drugs like opioids, alcohol, and barbiturates. 

Benzos are not meant to be used in the long-term, and doctors seldom prescribe them for more than three weeks of use. Using benzos for more than three or four weeks may lead to chemical dependency. Once you have developed a dependence, you may experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop using the drug.

What Are Ativan Withdrawal Symptoms?

As you may expect from other benzo drugs, Ativan will cause physical dependence in two specific ways. You will develop a high tolerance that requires a more substantial dose of Ativan over time, and you will experience intense withdrawal symptoms when you stop using. Ativan has a short half-life of around 12 hours, and it will take two to three days to remove the drug from your body. 

The most common Ativan withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Rebound anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Confusion
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Depersonalization
  • Depression
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Hallucinations
  • Hyperthermia
  • Involuntary movements
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Tension
  • Sweating
  • Seizures
  • Vertigo
  • Death

What Are the Stages of Ativan Withdrawal Timeline?

The length and severity of withdrawal symptoms will vary from one person to another because of our unique brain chemistry. The stages, however, will depend on various factors that include:

  • The dose that was consumed regularly
  • The last dose used
  • Genetic makeup
  • The length of time using Ativan
  • Age, medical history, health, environment
  • Substance use history
  • Other drugs used in conjunction with Ativan

24 to 48 hours: Withdrawal symptoms may appear shortly after your last dose due to its short half-life.

One to two weeks: The second stage of Ativan withdrawal will see individuals dealing with emotional, mental, and physical symptoms that include muscle pain, insomnia, tremors, and nausea.

Three to four weeks: Those who stayed active during their detox will manage their symptoms more efficiently and feel better by this point. 

Five weeks and beyond: Reaching this point will not be easy, and those who were heavily dependent on the substance may experience Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS) – this means their symptoms may continue for months or years after cessation.

Should I Detox?

Abrupt cessation of Ativan can be deadly, and those who want to stop should consider NCBI.

Benzodiazepine detox is dangerous, and entering into a treatment center will alleviate painful symptoms and keep you safe from deadly symptoms you may encounter.

During detox, medical specialists will monitor your health around-the-clock to ensure the medication leaves your system safely.

What Is the Next Treatment Step?

Detox is a crucial portion of the continuum of care; however, it is not enough to promote long-term sobriety. Those looking to understand the root of their addiction must enter into a residential or outpatient treatment center. During their stint in treatment, they will learn about the disease of addiction and understand how they can cope with triggers moving forward. You will attend therapies and meet people on the same path that can help solidify your recovery.

Sources

The National Center for Biotechnology Information. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64119/

Facts & Statistics. (n.d.). from https://adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics

Benzodiazepines. (n.d.). from https://www.dea.gov/factsheets/benzodiazepines

Hartney, E. (2019, July 26). Why Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome Can Be a Barrier to Recovery. from https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-post-acute-withdrawal-syndrome-22104

Treatment, C. for S. A. (1970, January 1). Chapter 3. Intensive Outpatient Treatment and the Continuum of Care. from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64088/

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