Ativan Abuse Causes, Statistics, Addiction Signs, Symptoms & Side Effects

What is Ativan?

Ativan (clinical name: Lorazepam) is a medication primarily prescribed for the short term treatment of depression based acute anxiety. It is a highly potent benzodiazepine drug which is short to intermediate term acting. In addition to being used for acute anxiety, it is also used for the short term treatments of insomnia, seizures, and sedation of hospitalized patients and aggressive patients. Additionally, Ativan is also used for relaxing muscles, temporary memory impairment, restless leg syndrome, and alcohol withdrawal. Because this drug induces strong feelings of well-being and puts the user into a calm, trance like state, Ativan has a high potential for abuse. Ativan has been used by criminals when they deliberately want to lower their own inhibitions before committing a crime. Criminals will also sometimes use Ativan on their victims as a date-rape drug or for robbery. A person using or abusing Ativan can develop both physical and psychological addictions. Ativan is typically available as an almost white tablet. However, it is also available as a solution for injections, a skin patch, an under the tongue tablet, and an oral solution. Ativan is widely prescribed and easily available which aids in developing an Ativan addiction.

Ativan Addiction Treatment

Gradual reduction of Ativan is currently the safest and most effective way to overcome this addiction. There are no pharmacological treatments available at this time. Because there is not a “quick fix” for beating this addiction, treatment and rehab for Ativan addiction can be very lengthy and typically requires a specialized center. Rapid stoppage is dangerous and can be fatal. Some of the variants determining the length of treatment is length of time a person has been using Ativan, as well as the dosages being taken. The higher the dosage and the longer amount of time using, the longer the detoxification process. The level of severity will also be a factor in determining the level of treatment needed to heal. The first step towards wellness when dealing with an Ativan addiction is to admit that you have a problem. The second step on the road to recovery is to ask for the help you need. Contact an Ativan treatment center for assistance and guidance. Speak up! Talk with a counselor and your loved ones. Ask for help. Ask for involvement. Help is available.

Statistics of Ativan Addiction

Lorazepam, along with other benzodiazepines, are commonly prescribed because they treat a wide range of ailments and have a large number of legitimate medical uses. However, because of their highly addictive qualities, they are frequently reported in drug abuse statistics. One shocking statistic shows that the number of benzodiazepine admissions nearly tripled between 1998 and 2008, while overall treatment admissions increased only 11 percent [1].

  • Alcohol was the substance most frequently reported with benzodiazepines in drug abuse-related emergency room visits. Almost all benzodiazepine admissions (95 percent) reported abuse of another substance in addition to abuse of benzodiazepines, 82.1 percent reported primary abuse of another substance with secondary abuse of benzodiazepines and 12.9 percent reported primary abuse of benzodiazepines with secondary abuse of another substance [1].
  • 312,931 persons using benzodiazepines visited an Emergency Department in 2009, 21% of which were using a benzodiazepine alone and 79% of which were using a benzodiazepine in combination with another drug [2].
  • Alprazolam and clonazepam were the most frequently reported benzodiazepines in drug abuse-related emergency room visits in 2002 [2].
  • Drug abuse-related emergency room visits involving benzodiazepines increased 41 percent from 1995 to 2002 [2].

Causes of Ativan Addition:

Benzodiazepines affect the central nervous system and activate the brain’s reward systems. Of the benzodiazepines, Ativan has one of the highest risks for physical and psychological addiction. The intense feelings and promise of rewards creates the potential of using the medication more often and for longer periods than prescribed thus creating an Ativan addiction. Ativan’s high potency can more easily lead to extreme cravings than most other benzodiazepines.

These intense cravings are generally caused by Ativan’s reduction of a person’s consciousness. This perceived lack of control contributes greatly to cravings, which in turn leads to abuse. Although a person may begin using Ativan under a doctor’s care, it is not uncommon for a person to go to several doctors in the attempt to gather several prescriptions. An Ativan addiction is developed as this cycle of taking more Ativan than is recommended, and working to get more Ativan continues. As the Ativan addiction grows, a person’s family life, home life, and work life will falter. An Ativan treatment program geared towards treating the dependency will help end this cycle and addiction.

It is highly recommended that Ativan be used for very short periods of time; and if an Ativan dependency develops, to gradually discontinue its use. The longer the drug is used, and the higher amounts that are craved when one’s tolerance is increased, lead to both physical and psychological dependence.

Signs of Ativan Use, Addiction and Dependence

Ativan is used to treat many ailments, and is widely prescribed by doctors. Although it is generally not recommended for use longer than four weeks, some doctors will continue to prescribe it for years on end. Adding to the problem is the ease in which it can be obtained via the internet. The signs of usage and abuse can be slight to severe. Regardless of the severity of the signs, assistance should be sought to help a person stop using this drug. Some of the signs of usage are:

  • Nausea & vomiting
  • Tachycardia
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dizziness
  • Numbness and Tingling of extremities
  • Hallucinations
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Psychosis

Ativan Effects

The abuse of Ativan will affect several different aspects of the addict’s life. An Ativan addiction displays the negative consequences in the person’s physical nature, their psychological being and their social life. Some of these results include:

Physical Effects:

  • Nausea & vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Headaches
  • Tremors
  • Tachycardia
  • Insomnia
  • Sweating
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dizziness
  • Numbness and Tingling of extremities
  • Visual Problems

Psychological Effects:

  • Hallucinations
  • Psychosis
  • Depression
  • Short term memory loss
  • Confusion
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety

Social Effects:

  • Work life suffers and/or fails
  • Family life suffers and/or fails
  • Financial problems, bankruptcy, loss of home
  • Friendships are strained and/or fail
  • Enjoyable activities are avoided

Ativan Withdrawal

A person abusing Ativan should not abruptly stop using the medication. Sudden stoppage can cause intense withdrawal symptoms. It is highly recommended for a person with an Ativan addiction to seek medical aid at an Ativan rehabilitation facility, so that the person can be monitored and be relieved from the withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms include, seizures, insomnia, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, hallucinations, numbness and tingling in the extremities, muscle pain, tachycardia, short term memory loss, very high fever, increased reactions of noise, light and touch, changes in mood. If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, please contact an Ativan detox program for assistance.

Other Articles About Ativan

  • Ativan and close relatives like Xanax and Valium, are often considered “light-weight” tranquilizers by therapists*2. In some ways the benzo prescription can be a wild card. It can take effect in ways that are dramatically different than expected. Learn more here.

References

[1]: http://www.samhsa.gov/data/2k12/TEDS-064/TEDS-Short-Report-064-Benzodiazepines-2012.htm

[2]: http://www.samhsa.gov/data/2k12/DAWN032/SR032Polydrug2012.htm