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What is Ativan?

Ativan (lorazepam) is a prescription tranquilizing drug.  You might also hear it as a sedative-hypnotic or anxiolytic medication.  Moreover, Ativan belongs to a class of medications called benzodiazepines. Many have been addicted to this drug and require Ativan detox to function normally again and avoid side effects that bring health risks.

Ativan is the brand name available in the US for lorazepam.  Loraz, another brand name for lorazepam, has been terminated in the US.  Ativan is obtainable in generic form; however, you need a prescript from your doctor. Despite its legitimate medical uses, Ativan has known addictive and drug dependence liability.

This is one reason why Ativan is prescribed for relatively short-term use. However, people should be careful to adhere to prescription guidelines. If not, if an individual exceeds the recommended dosage, it may increase the likelihood of drug addiction development.

Ativan is a DEA-controlled drug.  The active ingredient lorazepam is a DEA Schedule IV controlled substance.  Given that, substances in the DEA Schedule IV have a low potential for abuse relative to substances in Schedule III.  The DEA also classifies Ativan as Depressants. Moreover, the street names for Benzodiazepines, including Ativan, are Benzos, Downers, Nerve Pills, and Tranks.  [1] 

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Ativan Detox for Addiction and Dependence

Physical dependency is commonly characterized by increasing tolerance to the drug in question, meaning that a higher amount is needed to accomplish the same effects.

Detoxification is the process of allowing the body to rid itself of a drug.  Unfortunately, it’s often accompanied by withdrawal, which is the set of symptoms the body experiences when long-term use of a drug is abruptly discontinued.

The unpleasant symptoms that arise during withdrawal impart a high risk of relapse for people undergoing Ativan detox, so making it through this process is crucial to recovery.

To clarify, the National Institute on Drug Abuse cautions that Ativan detox should be followed with a behavioral-based therapy and medication to establish natural treatment.  [2]

Ativan detox and withdrawal can be stressful and sometimes dangerous.  So, it should be under the monitoring of medical professionals. Given that, detoxing in a drug treatment center facility will give you comprehensive Ativan detox, and can provide you inpatient treatment and therapies as well.

Ativan Detox Experience

When it comes to detoxifying from a benzodiazepine like Ativan, some physical withdrawal symptoms can be critical.  Some unusual but severe Ativan withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Increases Heart Rate
  • Hallucinations
  • Fever
  • Life-Threatening Convulsions and Seizures

Generally, detoxification is even more frightening for some because of the risk of relapse.  In addition, since the withdrawal process follows detoxification, some clients may find withdrawal symptoms so distressing that they feel forced to return to the drug.

Benzodiazepines like Ativan, in particular, have a high risk of relapse because their withdrawal symptoms often include:

  • Rebound Anxiety
  • Insomnia

These psychological symptoms may become so severe that some clients return to the drug to escape them.

Given Ativan’s potential for intense withdrawal symptoms, the possibility of rebound anxiety or insomnia, and the risk of relapse, medical professionals should closely monitor detoxification. Self-detox is not advisable.

Risks of Ativan Detox at Home

One of the biggest causes of avoiding detoxing at home is the risk of relapse.  Withdrawal can be a complicated process to survive, mainly if rebound symptoms happen.

Detoxing under close medical supervision can guarantee that clients have quick access to psychological care if they encounter rebound anxiety during the withdrawal process.

This kind of treatment can help clients make it through Ativan detox without going back on the drug.

Because Ativan’s withdrawal process has sometimes been associated with dangerous symptoms such as seizures, it’s vital to be strictly under monitoring while undergoing Ativan detox if a medical emergency arises.

Medical professionals can also assist clients in Ativan detox over a safe period.  For instance, patients who detox at home may have the temptation to quit “cold turkey,” or abruptly stop taking the drug completely.

The abrupt stop of using the drug may cause worse withdrawal symptoms and is not advisable.  Instead, the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suggests tapering off the use of the drug over some time to reduce withdrawal.

Medically Assisted Ativan Detox and Withdrawal

First, the client will gradually wean off the drug.  Seldom, tapering off the use of the drug is the only intervention necessary.  However, they may prescribe some medications to help clients with their withdrawal symptoms.

Flumazenil is usually a prescription as a benzodiazepine antagonist, which blocks benzodiazepine binding at the GABA receptor and negates the brain’s effects.  Flumazenil can help stop a fatal overdose and accelerate the Ativan detox process as it sends an individual into almost immediate withdrawal. 

However, its use must be under supervision as it may increase the risk of seizures.

Additionally, complementary psychological therapies have been shown to have positive results, including evidence-based approaches.

Ativan Detox
Because Lorazepam has a high potency, it can end in more extreme cravings when it is discontinued. These intense cravings may result in individuals using more Ativan than prescribed

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What to Expect During Ativan Detox?

Generally, the first step in detoxification is working out a taper schedule to wean off the drug.  Some doctors suggest switching to an equivalent dose of a different intermediate or long-acting benzodiazepine instead of the original drug and then beginning the tapering process, especially for outpatient treatments.

Withdrawal symptoms tend to set in within a few days. You may discern withdrawal symptoms including:

  • Headaches
  • Restlessness
  • Sweating
  • Cramping
  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Dizziness or Tremors

Medications that may Help with Symptoms

  • Pregabalin or Valproate (or other anti-convulsant):
    • Manages Severe Symptoms
    • Alleviates Neuropathic Pain
    • Prevents Seizures

Ativan Withdrawal

People who are addicted to Ativan will likely experience withdrawal when they quit using the drug. Also, withdrawal happens to those who rapidly decrease their dose. Apparently, even those who follow a prescription and follow recommended dosage can have withdrawal symptoms. People may develop a physical dependence on Ativan in just a week.

Withdrawal from Ativan can be potentially dangerous and even deadly because of the possibility of developing seizures during the withdrawal process. Withdrawal often occurs in two stages, these are acute and post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS).

Acute withdrawal symptoms

Acute withdrawal symptoms of Ativan can include:

  • Sleep disturbance
  • Irritability
  • Increased tension and anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Hand tremors
  • Excessive sweating
  • Headache
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Dry heaving and nausea
  • Muscular pain and stiffness
  • Blood pressure changes
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Palpitations
  • Weight loss

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PAWS withdrawal symptoms

PAWS withdrawal symptoms from Ativan can include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression or dysphoria
  • Cravings
  • Sleep difficulties
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Reduced interest or lack of initiative
  • Inability to feel pleasure
  • Constantly feeling tired
  • Obsessive compulsive tendencies
  • Memory problems

Rebound Symptoms

In addition to withdrawal symptoms during an Ativan, you will likely experience rebound symptoms too. Rebound symptoms are the return of symptoms that may have been present at the start of taking the medication, and the symptoms may heighten for a few days.  This may include insomnia, anxiety, and stress. However, as the body regulates through the Ativan detox process, these symptoms will likely subside or diminish.

Withdrawal Timeline

Acute withdrawal symptoms can start within 10 to 24 hours following the last dose. However, the amount of time varies per person and may be longer or shorter for some. The average onset of withdrawal symptoms is 3-4 days.

A post-acute withdrawal syndrome occurs after the acute phase and typically lasts 10-14 days. However, in individuals who use very high doses of Ativan, it could last even longer. In this stage, individuals will continue to experience symptoms of anxiety, drug cravings, nausea, vomiting, headache, general malaise and may even begin to develop depression. Some individuals who have co-occurring anxiety or panic disorder may also experience a return of anxiety symptoms that may persist until treatment is put into place.

Days 1-3

Acute withdrawal symptoms, like headache and nausea, typically begin within the first 24 hours after quitting use.

Days 4-7

Symptoms of withdrawal tend to peak during this time period. The symptoms and severity vary by person but may include tremors, cravings, and irritability.

Days 8-14

The symptoms of withdrawal usually start to lessen during the second week. By this time, acute withdrawal symptoms should have most, if not completely, subsided. Rebound symptoms often start 2-3 days after acute withdrawal ends and may include severe anxiety, rapid heart rate, an increase in blood pressure, and insomnia.

Days 15+

Typically the worst part is over at this point. The acute withdrawal symptoms should mostly be gone. Any lingering symptoms should be mild. Protracted withdrawal symptoms may begin for some Ativan users.

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Ativan Overdose

Ativan overdose may happen at any level higher than what your doctor has prescribed for you. The amount of Ativan that a person takes to reach an overdose differs from person to person. This can be based on weight, gender, genetics, and underlying health conditions, among other factors. The doctor prescribing a person Ativan is taking these factors into account when deciding what dose is safe.

Because Ativan is extremely potent and can appear harmless as a prescription drug, it may cause both accidental and intentional abuse as well as an accidental overdose. Most commonly, overdoses happen when it is taken in combination with alcohol or other drugs.

Signs of an Ativan Overdose

Signs of Ativan Overdose may include the following:

  • Mental confusion
  • Slurred speech
  • Lack of energy
  • Loss of control of body movements
  • Muscle weakness
  • Low blood pressure
  • Slow breathing
  • Passing out
  • Coma

A Holistic Approach to Benzo Addiction Treatment

Benzo drugs, including Ativan addiction, can have social and psychological effects on those who struggle with it.  Some may find these effects to be the most significant difficulty they face.

However, for others, it is the physical effects that are the scariest.

When one stops taking benzodiazepines without tapering off, severe symptoms such as tremors, seizures, and even death can occur.  For this reason, professional treatment at a medical detox facility is crucial.

Once the Ativan detox process has been successful, then an individualized treatment plan will follow.  During treatment, individuals who have struggled with benzo drugs addiction will learn skills and tools to help them stay off these drugs and lead a better life.

If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction to Ativan, Valium, or any other form of benzodiazepine, get them the help they need and deserve.  Contact our team at We Level Up New Jersey for treatment today!

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Once Ativan detox is complete, treatment usually continues in an inpatient setting, depending on the individual’s needs.

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[1] Lorazepam – National Center for Biotechnology Information
[2] Types of Treatment Programs – National Institute on Drug Abuse