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Ativan Abuse Symptoms and Addiction Treatment

Many people in the U.S. struggle with compulsive prescription medication use. Benzodiazepines—including Ativan—are some of the more frequently abused prescription drugs out there. While recovery from benzodiazepines can be tough, it is possible. The right treatment program can ensure that you don’t have to fight your battle alone.

What Is Ativan?

Ativan (generic name: lorazepam) is prescribed to people who need assistance managing symptoms of anxiety and panic. While it potentially primes the patient for habitual use, the substance is sometimes prescribed to those who need help falling asleep.

Ativan works as a depressant medication by enhancing inhibitory neurotransmission and effectively slowing down various processes throughout the body.

Signs and Symptoms

Someone using benzodiazepines like Ativan may experience the following common side effects of use:

  • Physical and mental relaxation.
  • Feelings of calm.
  • Euphoria.
  • Slowed response time.
  • Poor coordination and motor skills.
  • Slowed breathing rates.
  • Lowered ability to concentrate.

Taken at high doses and over a long time, Ativan use can cause the following symptoms:

  • Dangerously slowed breathing.
  • Memory issues and forgetfulness.
  • Lack of motivation.
  • Decreased interest in pleasurable activities.
  • Aggression.
  • Paranoia.

Mixing depressants like alcohol with Ativan can lead to:

  • Seizures.
  • Coma.
  • Death.

Other serious effects of Ativan abuse can include kidney failure, extreme depression and respiratory failure. Overdose from benzodizepines like Ativan can be fatal.


Effects of Ativan Abuse

Addiction to benzodiazepines doesn’t happen overnight. It occurs when people use a medication like Ativan consistently over an extended period of time. Even people who use Ativan exactly as their doctor prescribed can develop a tolerance to the substance, leading them to take ever-increasing amounts to feel the desired effects. As tolerance develops and the user takes higher and higher doses, their risk of addiction to the drug increases.

Symptoms of Ativan addiction vary slightly from person to person. Signs can include:

  • Neglecting work and family responsibilities.
  • Isolating oneself from friends and family.
  • Experiencing legal or financial issues due to use.

Ativan Abuse Treatment

People who are looking for Ativan abuse treatment should seek professional addiction treatment. When ending use abruptly, benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms can be relatively sudden and severe.


Withdrawal symptoms can begin within a few hours after last use and include:

  • Insomnia.
  • Tachycardia or increased heart rate.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Anxiety and worried thoughts.
  • Agitation.
  • Convulsions.
  • Seizures.

To ensure safety and success, a period of supervised detox may be needed to allow medical professionals to monitor vital signs as the body clears the substance from the system. Medical management with longer acting sedatives may be required to preclude the onset of seizure activity, as well.

After detox, the treatment provider can refer the person to inpatient or outpatient treatment programs. It’s important to look at all of your options and decide which program fits your personal needs and goals.

Outpatient treatment facilities offer many different programs to give you enough flexibility to work and spend time with your family. For example, daily check-in programs require you to attend a short session with a drug abuse counselor every day. This helps you stay focused on your recovery without much interruption to your day-to-day life. Day treatment programs require you to remain at the facility for eight hours each day. While you’re at the facility, you’ll attend group therapy sessions and educational lectures on drug abuse and treatment.

Inpatient treatment centers give you a temptation-free place to recover. You live at the center for the duration of your treatment—typically 30 days, 60 days or 90 days. During this time, you will participate in a variety of therapeutic modalities, including:

If you need help deciding what type of treatment program is best for you, call for free at .

Ativan Statistics

Ativan addiction is a problem for many adults. Since the addiction develops over time, it can sneak up on you. It may take some time before you realize that you might have a problem.

According to the 2015 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH):

  • 446,000 people aged 12 or older had abused sedatives in the month prior to the survey.
  • 0.3% of the population was characterized as having a tranquilizer addiction in 2015.

Teen Ativan Abuse

Ativan abuse isn’t only a problem among adults. With prescriptions abounding, teenagers may have unfettered access to these drugs, and may develop prescription medication addictions of their own.


Among teens, sedative and tranquilizer use remains relatively high. For example, SAMHSA’s 2015 NSDUH found that:

  • An estimated 21,000 adolescents aged 12 to 17 were current misusers of sedatives.
  • 86,000 young adults aged 18 to 25 had misused sedatives in the past month.
  • 162,000 adolescents aged 12 to 17 were current misusers of tranquilizers.
  • 582,000 young adults aged 18 to 25 had misused tranquilizers in the past month.

Parents can take measures to prevent use through:

  • Education.
  • Tracking Ativan use in the home.
  • Building an open relationship with their teen.
  • Monitoring changes in their teen’s habits and friends.

Learn more about teen drug misuse.

Resources, Articles, and More Information

To learn more about how Ativan abuse can affect you and how to find treatment for addiction, read the following articles:

Ativan Addiction Treatment Levels of Care

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