Ativan addiction and physical dependence often go hand in hand. An individual addicted to Ativan will show signs of psychological dependence. This can be marked by the inability to function daily without the substance. If you’re an addicted individual, you may notice more and more time being allocated to chasing that “high.”
Physical dependence on Ativan is another common effect when it comes to addiction. The body develops a tolerance to the drug, thus it requires more and more to achieve a certain kind of feeling. Tolerance is dangerous as it requires a higher dosage and increases the risk of overdosing. Due to having a heightened tolerance, people abusing Ativan will also experience withdrawal symptoms.
What is Ativan?
Ativan is the trade name for the generic drug lorazepam and belongs to the drug category referred to as benzodiazepines. Similarly to other benzodiazepines, Ativan works by attaching to GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) receptors in the brain. This causes a temporary feeling of calm and relief when Ativan is taken. Ativan slows down the chemical signals nerve receptors receive, which is what produces the temporary feeling of relief and relaxation.
About Ativan Withdrawal
Ativan has the potential to become highly addictive when taken not as directed. If you have become dependent on the drug, you’ll experience withdrawal symptoms when you quit taking it or lessen the dose. Some individuals even experience withdrawal only a week after starting it. This means it has a high addictive potential and is likely to cause some uncomfortable symptoms.
Withdrawal symptoms happen because your body doesn’t know how to function without the drug. You’ll feel physical and emotional discomfort. Symptoms of withdrawal will be different depending on how long you’ve taken the drug, the dosage, and your physical makeup.
Ativan Withdrawal Symptoms
Physical and psychological symptoms are common during withdrawal from Ativan. You’ll crave it and likely experience a range of other uncomfortable issues. Physical Ativan withdrawal symptoms include:
- Hand tremors
- Abdominal cramps
You may also notice weight loss, rapid heart rate, trouble sleeping, headache or muscle pain.
Psychological symptoms include:
- mood swings
- Trouble concentrating
You may also experience anxiety or even panic attacks. Each person is different, but these are a range of common Ativan withdrawal signs.
Together, these symptoms can put patients under a serious degree of stress on both body and mind. Treatment can help alleviate the discomfort and offer support to get through the most difficult phases.
Stages of Ativan Withdrawal
It is important to note that there are two stages of benzodiazepine withdrawal: acute withdrawal and protracted withdrawal. Acute withdrawal is typically referred to as “withdrawal,” which factors in both physical and psychological symptoms. Acute withdrawal is the first stage of symptoms that someone weaning off Ativan will experience.
Acute withdrawal symptoms generally involve:
- Hand tremors
- Difficulty concentrating
- Nausea or vomiting
- Abdominal cramps
- Muscle pain or stiffness
- Mood swings
- Blood pressure changes
- Rapid heart rate
- Weight loss
- Panic attacks
Protracted withdrawal, also known as post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS), is the occurrence of mostly psychological symptoms. This stage follows acute withdrawal, and not all individuals go through it.
Common Ativan protracted withdrawal symptoms include:
- Depression or dysphoria
- Sleep difficulties
- Issues concentrating
- Reduced interest or lack of initiative
- Inability to feel pleasure
- Constantly feeling fatigued
- Obsessive-compulsive tendencies
- Memory problems
Length of Ativan Withdrawal
Symptoms of Ativan withdrawal can generally begin within 24 hours of the last dose. The average onset of withdrawal symptoms is three to four days. As mentioned above, this phase is acute withdrawal and consists of a rush of anxiety, increased blood pressure, increased heart rate, and difficulty sleeping.
The following protracted withdrawal stage lasts about 10 to 14 days. If the individual used high doses of Ativan, it may last longer. During this stage, individuals will continue to experience symptoms of anxiety, drug cravings, nausea, vomiting, headache, general discomfort, and possibly depression.
Factors Affecting Withdrawal
The duration and intensity of withdrawal symptoms experienced will vary from person to person. It is dependent upon quite a few different factors.
Some of the factors affecting withdrawal include:
- The dosage and frequency of dosage: Chronic users of Ativan develop a tolerance fairly quickly. Individuals who become physically dependent on Ativan will generally need higher doses to achieve the same feeling. They may also take the maximum dose and take them relatively frequently to avoid withdrawal symptoms. The higher and more frequent the dosage, the more intense and lengthy the withdrawal syndrome will be.
- Individual differences in physical, emotional, and psychological makeup: Other factors play a role such as body composition, history of addiction, and co-occurring mental health issues. These can all affect the Ativan withdrawal process.
- The combination of other drugs: Benzodiazepines tend to be abused with other drugs, such as alcohol, narcotic pain medications, other benzodiazepines, and even sedatives. Withdrawal from Ativan can become trickier when there are both physical dependence and withdrawal symptoms from another drug as well.
What Can I Do About Ativan Withdrawal Symptoms?
Weaning off of Ativan must be done in a medically supervised setting through a detox. Rehab centers will offer detox as a core part of beginning treatment. During a detox, the body rids itself of toxins accumulated through substance abuse.
The three main steps of the detox process for Ativan withdrawal are:
- Evaluation: Our trained medical staff will evaluate your physical and mental condition. We’ll measure the amount of Ativan in your system and determine if the detox needs to be medically assisted. We’ll also conduct a comprehensive review of drug, medical and psychiatric histories. This is when we set up the foundation for a long-term treatment plan.
- Stabilization: Following the evaluation, we work to stabilize the patient through medical and psychological therapy. The goal of stabilization is to alleviate as much discomfort as possible during the Ativan withdrawal process. Our team of licensed professionals will monitor you throughout the entirety of detoxification.
- Beginning treatment: This is the last step of detox in preparation for a treatment program. Our staff will create an in-depth treatment plan that’s unique to your specific needs. We believe that personalizing treatment for each patient is what makes all the difference.
Side Effects of Detox During the Ativan Withdrawal Process
Detoxification can be a difficult process in which you find yourself being tested physically and mentally. However, we assure you that the long-term reward of detoxing is far greater. Not only will you be physically stronger, but you’ll also truly begin on the road to recovery.
Each person’s detox process varies; however, there are certain similarities that most people experience. A few common side effects may include:
- Body discomfort
- Mood swings
- Poor sleep
- Trouble concentrating
Ativan Abuse Statistics: You’re Not Alone
From 1996 to 2013, the number of individuals filling benzodiazepine prescriptions increased by 67 percent. This staggering number went from 8 to 13.5 million. Even more shocking is that doctors wrote more than 27 million prescriptions for Ativan in 2011. As of 2016, an estimated half a million people in the United States were misusing sedatives like Ativan.
We must be aware of the drug epidemic sweeping our nation. Those struggling with addiction must seek help and take the right steps toward recovery. With a thorough treatment plan and the will to keep going, you or a loved one can conquer addiction.
How the Crest View Recovery Center Can Help
If you or a loved one are experiencing difficulty with Ativan addiction and withdrawal, there are options available that will offer you help. An Ativan addiction treatment program at Crest View can make the process less difficult than going it alone and can increase the chances of relapse prevention. Doctors do not recommend going without help for Ativan abuse.
For example, highlights of our programs include:
Crest View believes in a comprehensive approach to wellness. Therefore, we’re not just treating an addiction. Each individual has unique needs that need to be addressed across a spectrum of wellness. Moreover, you can expect to develop real-life skills and education that will help you to maintain your recovery.
You don’t have to face Ativan withdrawal symptoms alone. The staff at Crest View Recovery Center are ready with the skills, expertise, and resources to support your recovery. Please reach out to us if you have further questions or would like to learn how to begin the process of overcoming Ativan dependency.