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Ativan Withdrawal Symptoms and Timeline

While Ativan is a short term solution for acute anxiety, complications can arise from long term use. Long term use of Ativan can lead to a physical dependency because of the way Ativan affects and interacts with the body. Ativan increases the bioavailability of GABA, the neurochemical responsible for suppressing the central nervous system. Prolonged use, or using Ativan in great quantities, can artificially increase the homeostatic baseline for the amount of GABA found in the brain. The homeostatic baseline is a pharmaceutical way of saying the normal amount found in a healthy individual. Because this medication changes the way the brain functions, individuals who stop using the medication suddenly may go through Ativan withdrawal.

Ativan Withdrawal

What is Ativan?

Ativan is the brand name for lorazepam. Lorazepam was first introduced by Wyeth Pharmaceuticals in 1977 under the brand names Ativan and Temesta. D.J. Richards, president of research, developed the drug. Ativan classifies as a controlled substance known as benzodiazepines. Ativan, along with other benzodiazepines, primarily treats acute anxiety. It decreases anxiety by enhancing the effects of GABA. GABA (Gamma-aminobutyric acid), a neurochemical naturally found in the brain, produces a calming effect on the central nervous system. Its quick acting effects coupled with a high bioavailability also makes it very effective at treating panic attacks, or a sudden onset of extreme anxiety.

Ativan Withdrawal

Someone can experience withdrawal from Ativan after prolonged use. Withdrawal occurs when someone becomes physically reliant on a drug to function properly. Symptoms can occur within as short as a few hours of ceasing Ativan use. During this time, there’s a wide range of physical and psychological discomfort someone can feel. This varies from person to person and further depends on many factors.

A physical dependence on Ativan can develop quickly even for those with a prescription who take the prescribed dosage. Withdrawal symptoms, like tremors and anxiety, are usually a sign of a physical dependence. After a physical dependence is formed, its usually followed by an increase in tolerance to the drug, this just means that it takes more for an individual to achieve the desired effect. Once cravings develop, psychological dependence often becomes an issue. A person may experience cravings while still taking Ativan or after a period of not using.

Benzodiazepine Addiction

Continuing to use Ativan even though it’s causing problems with responsibilities or social relationships is another sign of a potential addiction. Individuals should seek professional help when attempting to quit or titrate off of Ativan. Individuals that attempt to quit on their own or “cold turkey” can experience possible life threatening side effects, including seizures, hallucinations, and psychotic reactions. These symptoms can be mitigated with the proper care and supervision of a proper medical facility. Treatment professionals do not recommend quitting Ativan, or any other benzodiazepine, without consulting a physician. The success rate of attempting to quit without the proper medical supervision is very low and shouldn’t be attempted under any circumstances.

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Physical Symptoms of Ativan Withdrawal

Physical symptoms of Ativan withdrawal can vary. Many factors contribute to changes, including the amount used, duration of use, and the individual’s health. Physical symptoms of Ativan withdrawal can include sweating, shaking, insomnia, nausea, vomiting, headache, muscle pain, abdominal cramps, increased blood pressure, heart palpitations, increased heart rate and weight loss. These are just some of the most common physical symptoms of Ativan withdrawal. While no method can completely remove the discomfort associated with Ativan withdrawal, many treatment options mitigate these symptoms. Mitigation techniques can include medication, therapy, keeping engaged and mentally occupied. ITs important to keep in mind while this is an uncomfortable process it is very doable with the right oversight. Psychological symptoms of Ativan withdrawal vary in severity as well as many other factors.

Psychological Symptoms of Ativan Withdrawal

The most common psychological symptoms include, but are not limited to:

  • Increased anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Irritation
  • Mood swings
  • Paranoia
  • Depression
  • Reduced interest or lack of motivation
  • Feeling lethargic or tired
  • Memory problems

Withdrawal can be extremely emotionally taxing and draining. It’s recommended to have emotional support and encouragement throughout the detox process. This can include family or friends who support the person, along with properly trained counselors and medical staff. Rebound symptoms are common during Ativan withdrawal. Rebound symptoms, in short, display a temporary, enhanced return of the symptoms, like anxiety or insomnia, that initially led the person to take Ativan in the first place. Anxiety and/or rebound insomnia usually occur 2-3 days after the acute withdrawal phase of detox.

Many individuals relapse due to their inability to manage this rebound anxiety. Approximately 10-35% of individuals who detox from Ativan will experience rebound effects. Tapering-off of Ativan helps manage rebound symptoms. Full-blown acute withdrawal symptoms usually last 10 to 14 days and can lessen over the course of a few weeks. These symptoms can last for several months in extreme cases of heavy prolonged use. But since each case depends on various individual factors, no single set time frame for Ativan withdrawal exists. Individual have reported experiencing symptoms for a few months, while some have symptoms for up to two years.

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Getting Help for Ativan Dependency

Sometimes the psychological impact of withdrawal can lead recovering addicts to feel their life is messing something without using the drug. Therefore it’s important to address the void that getting clean from drugs can create in a person’s life. Proper after care can also include different types of therapies and community connection. After a person has detoxed from Ativan, they can benefit from a combination of therapy, inpatient or outpatient rehab, and ongoing support and care from counselors and loved ones. In many cases, drug abuse and addiction are maladaptive coping mechanisms for stress and trauma. In therapy, patients are given the tools to cope with stress without misusing prescription drugs. Struggling with Ativan addiction is tough to go through alone, please reach out to a qualified drug abuse counselor if you or a loved one are in need of treatment or wish to explore your options: 855-997-4702