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Ativan Withdrawal: Symptoms, Timeline, & Treatment

ativan withdrawal treatment - palm springs

Ativan is the brand name for lorazepam and is part of the benzodiazepine drug class. Benzodiazepines are used to treat anxiety disorders and seizure disorders and may be used as muscle relaxants. These drugs work on the major inhibitory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA works by decreasing excitation in the brain and spinal cord, which, over time, can be an addictive quality. For this reason, our California detox center is sharing more on Ativan withdrawal.  

What Is Ativan Withdrawal? 

Ativan is classified as a Schedule IV drug by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), meaning that it has a moderate potential for abuse as well as the development of physical dependence. It’s the potential for physical dependence that makes it a substance that will inevitably produce withdrawal symptoms in long-term users and abusers who attempt to quit cold turkey. 

Physical dependence occurs as a result of using certain drugs over a long period, often longer than the prescribing doctor directed. When a person engages in long-term Ativan abuse, their central nervous system becomes acclimated to having it in their system, to the point where it learns to function steadily only when the drug is being used.  

However, once the individual suddenly stops taking the substance, the system is thrown off balance, and this produces a variety of physical and psychological symptoms called withdrawals. Withdrawal from a benzodiazepine like Ativan can be dangerous and even life-threatening, mainly because it can lead to severe seizures.  

For this reason, our Southern California rehab recommends our medical benzodiazepine detox. This is a medically-assisted form of withdrawal treatment that provides 24-hour care and support to ensure patients remain comfortable and safe.  

Common Ativan Withdrawal Symptoms 

Withdrawal from Ativan usually occurs in two stages: an acute stage and a prolonged stage. Ativan also has a half-life of 10 to 12 hours, so withdrawals can begin as quickly as 24 hours after the person’s last use. The average onset of withdrawal symptoms is 3 to 4 days.  

Acute withdrawal symptoms, which are usually the most severe, can include: 

  • Abdominal cramps 
  • Anxiety 
  • Confusion 
  • Difficulty concentrating 
  • Headache
  • Heart palpitations 
  • Increased blood pressure 
  • Irritability 
  • Mood swings 
  • Nausea and/or vomiting 
  • Panic attacks 
  • Rapid heart rate 
  • Seizures (can occur in rare cases) 
  • Sweating 
  • Tremors 
  • Weight loss 

Protracted withdrawal syndrome occurs after the acute phase and usually lasts 10 to 14 days. However, in people who would take high doses of Ativan, it can last longer. In this stage, individuals may continue to experience symptoms of anxiety, cravings, nausea, vomiting, or headaches, and they may even develop a mental illness like depression.  

How Long Does Ativan Withdrawal Last? 

As we previously mentioned, acute symptoms of Ativan withdrawal can begin anywhere from 10 to 24 hours and can last up to a week. However, the Ativan withdrawal timeline varies according to several factors, such as duration of use, number of doses the person would normally take, whether the person has any underlying health conditions, and more. 

Rebound withdrawal symptoms can also occur after the acute withdrawal phase is over, which refers to a recurrence of symptoms the medication is meant to treat. These may include anxiety symptoms as well as seizures, muscle pain, and discomfort. It’s important to address withdrawals as they’re often uncomfortable and can even be life-threatening in severe cases.  

A lack of professional care can also encourage further drug-taking behavior, as long-time users may return to using the drug to avoid withdrawals. Over time, continuous use can lead to a substance use disorder (SUD) or addiction. This can impact a person’s life in various ways, including their health, relationships, job, and more.  

If you or someone you know is battling with substance abuse, don’t wait to get help. Our Banyan Palm Springs drug rehab offers a variety of detox programs, including a prescription drug detox. As we mentioned, medically supervised detox can reduce the risk of relapse by making the individual as comfortable as possible with medication (as needed.)  

Medical detox is also a safer alternative to at-home detox attempts at withdrawing. Because of seizures, withdrawal can be life-threatening, especially for heavy and long-term users. However, detox isn’t the end of recovery. 

Our facility also offers benzodiazepine addiction treatment for those who are battling abuse and need professional care and support to get and stay sober. For more information about our services and how we can help, call Banyan Treatment Centers today at 888-280-4763 


Related Reading:  

What Does Ativan Do to Your Heart? 

Can You Overdose on Ativan? 

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.
Ativan Withdrawal: Symptoms, Timeline, & Treatment
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