Ativan Addiction Treatment
What is Ativan?
Ativan is prescribed for the management of anxiety disorders, or for short-term relief from anxiety. It is available as a tablet, injection, skin patch or oral solution (liquid). The generic name for Ativan is lorazepam, which is a type of medication called a benzodiazepine. Uses for Ativan and other benzodiazepines include the treatment of acute seizures, preoperative sedation, insomnia and to treat the side effects of chemotherapy. Misuse of
Ativan and other prescription sedatives can result in physical dependency, abuse and addiction.
Ativan can be habit-forming, which has led to its controversial role in nationwide prescription drug abuse and addictions. Ativan is prescribed to patients for short term anxiety relief, and is not meant for long-term use; the recommended length of treatment is two to four weeks. Reaching for Ativan every time you experience high stress, instead of keeping to your physician’s instructions, can lead to addiction. There are legitimate reasons to treat an acute anxiety disorder with lorazepam, but using Ativan as a coping mechanism creates a dangerous relationship that can have severe health consequences. Ativan’s ability to produce euphoria at certain doses has led to it being sold illicitly, online and from dealers.
Ativan side effects and dangers
Like any prescription medication, Ativan may cause side effects even when taking it correctly. The following Ativan side effects are common:
- Muscle weakness
- Low blood pressure
Ativan use crosses the line into abuse and addiction when it is misused. One of the most important aspects about this prescription is its purpose for treating anxiety for a short, defined period. If you feel you must continue your Ativan prescription past your prescribed treatment length, it is important to talk to your doctor about what to do, instead of self-medicating beyond your treatment window.
There are serious risks to Ativan misuse. Sharing, giving away or selling Ativan is against the law because of its dangerous medical consequences.
Prescriptions are filled for specific doses tailored to specific people, and its effects can have adverse reactions in others. Taking an excessive Ativan dose, or mixing it with other sedatives such as alcohol, can result in a life-threatening overdose.
Ativan overdose symptoms include:
- Slurred speech
- Diminished reflexes
Serious overdose symptoms, especially when combined with other drugs or alcohol include:
- Decreased muscle tone
- Low blood pressure
- Loss of consciousness
- Trouble breathing
- Hypnotic state
These symptoms can be deadly if not treated immediately.
The path to serious abuse of Ativan can begin when the desired effect is the high produced by the drug instead of pain relief. Cutting, crushing, chewing or dissolving Ativan tablets is abuse of this medication. People seeking an Ativan high may snort or inject the tablet’s contents for more immediate effects. Any of these methods can result in Ativan overdose, especially when the prescription was filled for a different person with different medical needs.
If a person with an Ativan addiction is unable to access the drug, they may look for illegal sources or alternative sedatives. Because this illegal Ativan is not controlled by a pharmacy, it frequently contains unknown and harmful ingredients.
Ativan abuse and addiction signs
Any use of Ativan outside of a doctor’s instructions is considered drug abuse. This includes tampering with Ativan pills by chewing, crushing, cutting or dissolving them in order to ingest, snort or inject a higher dose than prescribed. Even if the Ativan pills are not tampered with, taking more pills than prescribed is also considered abuse of the drug.
Ativan addiction signs include:
- Taking more than the prescribed dosage
- “Doctor shopping” for multiple prescriptions
- Tampering with Ativan before taking it
- Mixing Ativan with other sedative drugs or alcohol
Ativan withdrawal symptoms and treatment
It is possible to develop a physical dependency on Ativan, which should be discussed with your doctor. A physical Ativan dependency occurs when the body adjusts to the presence of the medication and depends on that medication to function normally. An Ativan prescription can include dosing instructions from your doctor to taper off the medication to reduce and eliminate withdrawal symptoms. This type of medication management is important for patient safety—those who are physically dependent on Ativan will experience withdrawal symptoms if they stop their Ativan prescription too suddenly. If the withdrawal symptoms are extreme, they could drive the patient to continue using the substance despite significant harm—the definition of addiction.
Ativan withdrawal symptoms can include:
- Abdominal and muscle cramps
- Muscle pain
Severe Ativan withdrawal symptoms include:
- Derealization (mental disturbance)
- Sensitivity to sound, light, and physical contact
- Numbness and tingling of extremities
- Delirium tremens
- Epileptic seizures
These problems vary in severity and duration depending on the specific Ativan dose taken and duration of use.
Physical dependency or experiencing Ativan withdrawal symptoms does not mean that you are addicted to Ativan. Addiction also includes a loss of control, cravings and tolerance for the drug. Read more about addiction or contact us for an assessment.
There are no medications approved by the FDA specifically to treat Ativan addiction. However, certain medicines can be used to help sedative abusers with the significant anxiety with which they often struggle after they have gone through withdrawal. This anxiety is often a great deal more intense than the anxiety symptoms which other types of addicts face. It is critical to help the recovering addict to effectively deal with this anxiety, as many sedative abusers began using these sedative drugs to relieve an anxiety disorder. Once the Ativan is removed safely in the detoxification phase of treatment, the patient’s original anxiety returns full-blown—and possibly stronger than ever—but they can no longer turn to the medicines they abused for help. Because of this sedative’s toxicity to many areas of the brain, sedative abusers also seem to have significant problems with insomnia, especially early in sobriety. Fortunately, there are non-addicting medications that can treat anxiety or insomnia once the withdrawal stabilization process is complete. These include antiseizure/antiepileptic medicines, atypical antipsychotics, antihistamines and antidepressants.
Ativan withdrawal stabilization, also known as detoxification or detox, is usually done in a similar way as other sedative withdrawal treatment. Sedative or benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms are similar to those seen with alcohol withdrawal. Potential symptoms include aches and pains, numbness and tingling, irritability, rapid breathing and heart rate, insomnia, tremors, seizures, and changes in brainwave patterns. There is also the risk of suffering the potentially toxic syndrome of delirium tremens. The withdrawal syndrome for short-acting benzodiazepines such as Ativan may not begin until a day after the person stops using the drug, because it only takes a few hours for these drugs to clear from the body.
With mild Ativan withdrawal, you typically only see restlessness, anxiety, shakiness, and intermittent weakness–but these can often be accompanied by dizziness upon standing, nausea, cramps, and vomiting. These symptoms may be similar to the anxiety symptoms for which the benzodiazepine medication was initially prescribed. Oftentimes, the return of significant anxiety during the withdrawal phase causes sedative addicts to relapse early in the process.
The objective of sedative withdrawal is to stabilize the withdrawal symptoms by giving the patient a long-lasting sedative at a selected dose, then gradually lowering the dose in order to “wean” him or her off the medication. This reduces the withdrawal symptoms by making them less severe and more gradual. Which medicine to use and at what dose and for what length of time will be left to your physician’s discretion.
Ativan addiction treatment options
An evidence-based combination of therapeutic and pharmacological addiction treatment can help those with Ativan addiction regain a stable and productive life. Research shows that integrating both types of treatment is the most effective approach to restoring a degree of normal function to the brain and addressing underlying issues.
Enterhealth Ranch provides supervised drug and alcohol detox (also known as withdrawal stabilization) services for Ativan addiction, which includes science-driven medication therapy and medical staff available at any hour of the day. Ativan detox is so dangerous that it should always be done at an experienced inpatient facility. The drug and alcohol detox process is a crucial beginning step to recovery and should only be done under the supervision of a physician with formal training in alcohol and drug addiction treatment. Due to the body’s dependency on the drug, stopping abruptly can be life-threatening, because of both potential seizures and delirium tremens. It is very important to understand that the withdrawal stabilization phase of treatment is not considered treatment. It is only a medically sophisticated protocol to get the alcohol or drugs safely out of the body.
Effective behavioral treatments for Ativan addiction can be administered in a residential or outpatient setting after withdrawal stabilization depending on a host of factors for each patient’s life circumstances. A treatment plan may include:
- Intensive individual counseling
- Group therapy
- Individual and group family therapy sessions
- Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP)
- Wellness, nutritional and stress management treatment services
After the Ativan withdrawal symptoms are stabilized and detox is complete (usually between 10-21 days ), Enterhealth Ranch and Enterhealth Outpatient Center of Excellence offer the full continuum of care including residential and outpatient treatment options, both integrated together for the patient’s individual situation. During the residential phase of treatment, patients live at our 43-acre ranch facility while undergoing individualized, science-based treatment. Among many other treatments, patients attend addiction recovery therapy sessions that are specialized to each individual’s addiction challenges. Upon completion of the residential rehabilitation phase, the patient can transition to our outpatient facility, where patients receive continued, medically-supervised treatment while living at their own residence or in a sober living environment.
Ativan addiction treatment, however, goes beyond supervised drug and alcohol detox and treatment. Through therapy and psychiatric oversight, the psychological aspects of dependency can be better understood by the patient and addiction can be completely overcome. Counseling may be individual or group-oriented, and may also include the family. Long-term continuing care programs are also available, as they are essential to provide counseling and continued support over a number of years.
Ativan addiction recovery with Enterhealth
Anyone can become addicted to Ativan. Enterhealth Ranch and Enterhealth Outpatient Center of Excellence can help you or a loved one begin recovery at our 43-acre residential Ativan addiction treatment center just north of Dallas-Fort Worth in Texas, and our outpatient Ativan addiction treatment center located in the Preston Center area of Dallas, Texas.
At Enterhealth, our goal is to treat the whole person over the course of their lifetime. We offer a better chance to recover through our advanced, evidence-based treatment approach, designed and administered by board-certified addiction psychiatrists, physicians and other experts, that is proven to be more effective than traditional twelve-step approaches.