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Ativan Abuse: Signs, Symptoms, & Treatment

ativan symptoms and treatment blog

Ativan is the brand name for a benzodiazepine called lorazepam. Benzos are sedatives that are only available with a prescription and are used to treat conditions like anxiety disorders and seizure disorders. As effective as this medication can be for patients who take it as prescribed, it is also important to be mindful of Ativan abuse potential to avoid developing severe physical dependence and even addiction. Below is more on Ativan addiction and abuse, how to recognize it, and how our Palm Springs rehab can help with recovery. 

How Does Ativan Work?  

Ativan belongs to a class of drugs known as benzodiazepines or benzos. This medication works by enhancing the action of the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which slows down the central nervous system (CNS) along with various functions. This action is what produces the calming and sedative effect that alleviates anxiety and seizures in patients.  

Ativan is classified as long-acting benzo, meaning it is usually taken once a day and lasts anywhere from 12 to 14 hours. While effective, lorazepam is usually never prescribed for longer than four months at a time due to its high potency and potential for abuse. In fact, Ativan’s potential for abuse is so potent that the drug is known by street names like Goofballs, Heavenly Blues, Stupefy, or simply Benzos. 

Is Ativan Addictive?  

Yes, Ativan is highly addictive, a fact that often goes unnoticed because Ativan is a prescription drug. Taking larger amounts of the medication than prescribed, taking it more often than prescribed, using it in ways it is not recommended, and taking it with other substances are all forms of Ativan abuse. Using Ativan without a prescription is also a form of abuse, especially if the goal is to get high. 

Ativan is designed to help balance chemicals and nerve activity in the brain that contribute to anxiety symptoms and seizures, which is why they produce a relaxing and sedative effect on the user. When taken in large doses, these effects are enhanced, which can lead to an intense high followed by a prolonged state of calm.  

Common Ativan abuse side effects include:  

  • Drowsiness 
  • Dizziness 
  • Loss of coordination 
  • Headache 
  • Nausea and/or vomiting 
  • Blurred vision 
  • Constipation 
  • Heartburn 
  • Changes in appetite  

To further enhance these effects, users may take Ativan with alcohol, increasing their risk for overdose. Because Ativan is very potent and can seem harmless as a prescription medication, it is a prime candidate for both abuse and overdose. If you have been taking Ativan and feel as if you are losing control over how much or how often you use it, our California detox center can help clear the drug out of your system, ease withdrawals, and help you take that first step towards sobriety. 

Ativan Addiction Symptoms 

As we mentioned, Ativan is a highly potent benzodiazepine, so much so that it is one of the most commonly abused medications out there. Taking Ativan for longer than prescribed and/or more than the recommended dose increases the individual’s risk of developing dependence. However, lorazepam has also caused physical dependence in patients who took the medication as prescribed, which is why it is important to stop taking it when your doctor advises you to.   

A person who is physically dependent on Ativan has developed a tolerance to it, meaning they need to take it to function normally or to feel good. If they go too long without it or attempt to quit cold turkey, they will begin to experience both physically and emotionally uncomfortable symptoms called withdrawals. These are the first signs of Ativan addiction and abuse.  

Common signs of Ativan misuse include:  

  • Doctor shopping, which is going from one doctor to another to get additional prescriptions 
  • Confusion 
  • Dizziness 
  • Hallucinations 
  • Headaches 
  • Isolation 
  • Legal problems 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Lying about Ativan use to loved ones and coworkers 
  • Lying about having symptoms to get an Ativan prescription 
  • Nausea and vomiting 
  • No longer participating in former activities 
  • Over-sleeping 
  • Passing out 
  • Severe drowsiness 
  • Slurred words 
  • Sweating 
  • Tremors 
  • Using Ativan as a coping mechanism 

If you notice any Ativan abuse signs in yourself or a loved one, do not wait to hit rock bottom before getting help. Our Southern California rehab offers a variety of addiction services, including prescription drug detox and treatment, to ensure that clients receive the 24-hour care they need to recover physically and mentally from drug abuse.  

Ativan Addiction Treatment  

Long-term lorazepam abuse can lead to heart problems, worsen mental illnesses like anxiety, impair memory, increase the risk of overdose, lead to addiction, and more. If you or someone you care about is addicted to Ativan, you can get help at our Banyan Palm Springs drug rehab starting today.   

Our benzo addiction treatment program is specifically designed to treat individuals with drug use disorders such as Ativan addiction. Not only is detox offered to aid in withdrawal recovery, but clients in this program also work with our therapists and counselors to better understand the root of their addiction and how to manage sobriety outside of rehab.  

For more information about our levels of addiction treatment and how to get started, call Banyan Treatment Centers today at 888-280-4763 


Related Reading:   

Effects of Taking Tramadol & Ativan 

What Does Ativan Do to Your Heart? 

Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.