The Effects of Lorazepam Use
- Table of ContentsPrint
- About Lorazepam
- Short Term Effects
- Side Effects
- Long Term Effects of Lorazepam
- Lorazepam Withdrawal Treatment
Lorazepam is an anti-anxiety medication that promotes relaxation by tempering excitatory brain activity. Also marketed under the brand name Ativan, it is only available by prescription. Lorazepam is most commonly orally ingested as a tablet or a liquid concentrate, though solution formulations are used for injection in hospital settings. Directed dosage is most often two to three times a day, and users are advised not to deviate from the instructions issued by the prescribing physician.
In addition to anxiety, this medication is used to treat seizure, irritable bowel syndrome and nausea from cancer treatments. It is typically prescribed for short duration – two to four weeks of use is sufficient for most users. While four months is the maximum duration recommended for this drug, patients should consult with their doctors before discontinuing use. Sudden withdrawal from long term use can cause problems. As such, many medical professionals advise tapering off gradually.
Short Term Effects
The primary short-term effect of lorazepam use is relaxation. As a benzodiazepine, it enhances the effect of the neurotransmitter Gamma-aminibutyric acid, or GABA. GABA directs the brain to diminish neurological activity. This slowdown allows for a decrease in otherwise excitatory central nervous system activity, and can result in increased feelings of calm and relief of stress.
Patients who have experienced a lorazepam high report feelings of serenity and peace. When working as prescribed, lorazepam:
- Helps the patient sleep.
- Reduces irritability.
- Prevents panic attacks.
- Reduces the physical withdrawal symptoms associated with certain other drugs.
Lorazepam also acts as a sedative prior to the administration of general anesthesia to surgery patients. Such treatment allows the anesthesia to work more quickly.
- Muscular weakness.
- Dry mouth.
- Frequent urination or urinary difficulties.
- Decreased sexual desire.
- Distorted vision.
- Appetite changes.
Serious Side Effects
If you feel any of the following side effects, get immediate medical attention:
- Unsteady gait when walking.
- High fever.
- Respiratory difficulty.
- Problems with swallowing.
- Jaundiced eyes or skin.
- Irregular heartbeat.
In a few cases, it has caused increased excitement and irritability, the opposite of its intended effect. Patients experiencing these signs and symptoms should seek out their physicians for a different benzodiazepine medicine or an alternative anti-anxiety treatment.
Long Term Effects of Lorazepam
The medical consequences of long-term use of lorazepam have not been evaluated beyond four months. Other benzodiazepine drugs, however, have been implicated in memory loss. This impairment more frequently affects the recall of life events, as opposed to knowledge of facts.
Long-term effects of these medicines can also inhibit the normal psychological stages of dealing with traumatic events. In a similar fashion, the normal grief process is believed to be interrupted by ongoing benzodiazepine use.
Kidney disease has also been linked to long-term use.
One of the biggest risks of extended use of Lorazepam is that of dependency or addiction.
Exceeding the directions of the physician's prescription is a telltale sign that normal use is evolving into abuse. Using their own judgment, patients may perceive a need for higher dosages and adjust them accordingly. As a result, tolerance to the drug increases, meaning the user will want more and more in order to feel the initial effects.
As dependency develops, desire for the substance increases, as does the time and money spent to obtain it. Work, school and family obligations are neglected.
When supplies of the drug are then depleted, withdrawal symptoms set in. These range from mild irritability to severe panic attacks and may be accompanied by thoughts of suicide.
Because Lorazepam operates on the brain much as alcohol does, similar physical withdrawal manifestations are possible, including:
- Clammy skin.
- Loss of appetite.
- Rapid heartbeat.
- Profuse sweating.
Since withdrawal can constitute a threat to health and possibly life, careful management of the patient's condition by competent medical personnel is essential. Learn more at our blog, 7 Things About Benzo Withdrawal You Might Not Know.
Lorazepam Withdrawal Treatment
Checking into a rehab center is considered the safest way to get through detoxification. Experts in lorazepam addiction know that complete and immediate cessation of use endangers the health of the user. Most treatment centers continue to administer the drug but do so in gradually decreased amounts. This process of weaning ensures that the medical and psychological dangers inherent in withdrawal are minimized.
Combined with individual therapy and group support, this form of detoxification is most likely to result in permanent freedom from Lorazepam addiction.
Psychotherapy sessions help the addict to understand the emotional triggers and motivations that may lead to relapse.
Support groups serve to help addicts deal with the day-to-day stresses that may tempt them to return to the drug.
Rehabilitation centers vary according to what people can afford and what their conditions require. Top facilities frequently resemble luxury hotels and resorts, whereas more modest treatment centers provide basic amenities and often receive government support. Finding the right detox center is easier when knowledgeable counselors are available for referral.