Benzodiazepine Addiction and Abuse

Benzodiazepines are commonly prescribed tranquilizers used for the treatment of anxiety, panic attacks, muscle spasms, and seizures.

Ativan Addiction

An addiction is possible with the prescribed medication Ativan. When addicted to Ativan, taking higher doses of the drug over an extended period of time can lead to physical and psychological dependence.

Individuals with a drug and/or alcohol abuse history or those with personality disorders are at a greater risk of developing an addiction to the prescription drug Ativan. When addicted to Ativan, an individual may experience cravings for the drug and will continue to use the drug despite problems that arise in their life. Such problems can include:

  • Relationship problems with family or friends
  • Failing to follow through with obligations at work, home, and school
  • Participating in dangerous activities
  • Losing interest in things that once held importance
  • Becoming socially isolated
  • Financial issues

“I was basically locked in my room and the only time I would go out was to hook up with my connection. I spent at least… $400 a day on pills.” – Heidi D., in recovery from addiction to Ativan and other drugs

Individuals who habitually use Ativan will develop a tolerance to the drug. Larger doses will be needed to achieve the same effects that a lower dose would achieve. Those addicted to Ativan may recognize that they have a problem and have a desire to quit. However, they are unable to. The withdrawal symptoms from Ativan make it hard for the individual both physically and psychologically.

Those wishing to quit using Ativan will require rehabilitation, therapy, and/or medically assisted detox to safely and successfully overcome their addiction.

Understanding Ativan (Lorazepam)

Ativan, or Lorazepam, is an anti-anxiety medication that is also prescribed to treat such ailments as insomnia and epilepsy. Ativan is designed to be used as an intermediate-duration drug. It is rarely prescribed for more than four months. Ativan can also be prescribed when an individual is going through alcohol detoxification to help manage the withdrawal symptoms.

Ativan’s long-term effectiveness has not been confirmed when prescribed to treat panic attacks, short-term anxiety, and depression.

Ativan belongs to a class of drugs known as benzodiazepines, or “benzos.” Benzodiazepines block the select neurotransmitters in the brain which slows hyperactive mental processes. Benzos are often sold as a quick-dissolve tablet or a concentrated, colorless liquid. Ativan can also be taken orally or through an IV drip administered by a healthcare professional. The effects from taking Ativan last about two hours and remains in the individual’s system for 10 to 20 hours.

How Long Do Benzodiazepines Stay in the Body?
Brands Halcion Ativan Valium
Length of Action Short-acting Intermediate Long-acting
Time 2-4 hours 10-20 hours 20-70 hours

Ativan’s street names are goofballs, heavenly blues, stupefy, and benzos.

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Ativan Effects and Abuse

Since Ativan is a prescribed drug, many people do not realize when they’re abusing the drug. Examples of how Ativan is abused include taking larger amounts than prescribed, taking the drug more often than prescribe, taking the drug for longer periods of time than prescribe, and taking Ativan without a prescription.


The purpose of Ativan is to help balance the chemicals in the brain that cause anxiety. When taken in large doses, Ativan binds with receptors in the brain eliciting a fleeting, intense high followed by a long-terms state of calm. When Ativan is used with other substances such as alcohol, the relaxing effects of the drug are more intense. Ativan is seemingly harmless because it is a prescription drug. However, individuals who abuse Ativan are prime candidates for accidental and intentional drug abuse and possible drug overdose.

Effects of Ativan include:

  • a euphoric high
  • a sense of calm
  • relaxed muscles
  • drowsiness
  • Mental confusion
  • Slurred speech
  • Lack of energy
  • Loss of control of body movements
  • Muscle weakness
  • Low blood pressure
  • Slow breathing
  • Coma

Common Ativan Drug Combinations

Ativan is often combined with other drugs to enhance the effects. It is commonly used with the following drugs.

  • Cocaine– When Ativan is combined with cocaine, the medication counteracts the stimulating effects causing the user to come down from the high.
  • Amphetamines– Amphetmines produce the same effects as cocaine so the use of Ativan has the same effect on the user as it does with cocaine.
  • Methadone– Ativan is taken with methadone to boost the effects of the painkiller.
  • Alcohol– Ativan is combined with alcohol to produce a quick high. The central nervous system is depressed when this happens causing the user to over sedate.

Combining Ativan with other drugs is extremely dangerous. It puts the user at risk for overdose, which in some cases leads to unconsciousness, coma, or death.

Ativan Abuse Statistics



50K people ended up in the emergency room in 2011 due to Lorazepam (Ativan) complications.



95% patients admitted to the hospital for Benzodiazepine abuse were also abusing another substance.



More than 27 million prescriptions for Ativan were written in 2011.

Seeking out a support group and individual counseling will be necessary in order to be able to overcome an Ativan (Benzodiazepine) addiction. Counseling will provide the tools needed to be able to remain clean and sober. If you or someone you know is struggling with an Ativan addiction, get in touch with us now to get help finding treatment.

Signs of Ativan (Lorazepam) Abuse

The most potent Benzodiazepine available is Ativan. There is a higher risk of developing an addiction to Ativan than any other drug. In order to decrease the likelihood of developing a dependence Ativan, it should not be taken longer than the prescribed period of time and/or more than the recommended doses.

Some people develop a dependence on Ativan even when they have taken the prescription as directed. A physical dependency can be developed in order for the user to be able to function normally. If the medication is stopped being taken suddenly, the user can experience an emotional and physical discomfort, which are the first signs of withdrawal.

Individuals who are using Ativan display the same signs as someone who is intoxicated. The signs of slurred speech, ataxia, and poor physical coordination are evident.

Outward signs of Ativan abuse might include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Headaches
  • Tremors
  • Sweating
  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dizziness

Dangers of Ativan

Ativan should be used under the supervision of a doctor. Ativan is recommended to be taken for short-term use in order to decrease the risks of physical and psychological dependence. High doses of Ativan can cause severe side effects. One of the most dangerous side effects is changes in brain functioning. Long-term Benzodiazepine use can cause cognitive impairment. Even when Benzos are no longer being used, not all patients are able to regain full cognitive functioning.

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Recognizing an Ativan Addiction

An Ativan addiction is not always easy to recognize.  While the medication is prescribed by a doctor, much of the abuse takes place behind closed doors and can go unnoticed for long periods of time. There are signs to look for to determine if someone is an Ativan addict.

An Ativan addiction can develop quickly. Because the medication is so strong, even individuals who use the prescription as recommended can develop an addiction. When going off the medication, withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea and anxiety, are good indicators of a physical dependence to the drug. Individuals with a physical dependence to Ativan will develop a tolerance to the medication which means in order to achieve the same effects higher doses of the drug will have to be taken.

A clear sign of a psychological dependence to the drug Ativan is cravings. The individual may experience the cravings even while continuing to use the drug. Continued use of Ativan can cause difficulties in social relationships and interfere with the individuals daily responsibilities.

“Whenever he would crave something he would obsess about that one thing and nothing else mattered. I always said there were like two of him.” – Anonymous, loved one of a recovering Ativan addict

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), there are 11 criteria that characterize an addiction. Depending on the number of criteria that are met, the individual using Ativan can be classified with a mild, moderate, or severe addiction.  

Intervention for an Ativan Problem

To help someone you know who is an Ativan addict, you can help them staging an intervention. Many addicts may be aware of their problem but will deny that there is a need for help. Staging a professional intervention may help.

A trained interventionist can help guide you through the intervention process. Careful planning and timing of the intervention is important. You will need to be prepared for anything that could happen during the intervention and rehearse what is to be said. Asking loved ones to participate in the intervention may help convince the addict of the need for change.

Withdrawal from Ativan and Treatment

Because it’s so addictive, withdrawal symptoms from Ativan can happen almost immediately. The withdrawal period varies from individual to individual. Individuals who use Ativan as prescribed can experience withdrawal symptoms. Some individuals experience the withdrawal symptoms after only taking the drug for one week. Extended use of Ativan causes more severe physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms when the drug is no longer being used.

The longer and more often Ativan is used the more severe the withdrawal symptoms. Therefore, a treatment program or a medically assisted detox program may be needed to reduce the effects of the withdrawal. During this process, the individual will need to be taught the skills necessary for a successful recovery.

What is Ativan Withdrawal?

Individuals addicted to Ativan will experience withdrawal symptoms. Individuals who use the drug as prescribed by their doctor can experience withdrawal symptoms. It has been reported that a physical dependency on the drug can develop after only one week of using.

When your body begins to rely on Ativan to function normally, withdrawal will occur when the drug is no longer being taken. The brain, nervous system, and organs will go through a period of adjustment to relearn how to function normally without the drug.

There will be varying degrees of physical and psychological discomfort during the withdrawal period. The severity and duration will depend on how long and how much the drug was used.

Symptoms of Withdrawal

Doctors recommend that patients using Ativan taper off the usage. Quitting “cold turkey” can be extremely dangerous for the individual. Severe withdrawal symptoms, including seizures, hallucinations, and psychotic reactions can occur when the individual does not wean off the medication.

There are two stages of Benzodiazepine withdrawal: acute withdrawal and protracted withdrawal.

Acute withdrawal is commonly referred to simply as “withdrawal.” Most of the symptoms with acute withdrawal are physical. These withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • Cravings
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Hand tremors
  • Sweating
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Confusion
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain or stiffness
  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings
  • Blood pressure changes
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Palpitations
  • Weight loss
  • Panic attacks

Protracted withdrawal or post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) is the presence of psychological withdrawal symptoms that occurs after acute withdrawal is over. Some individuals do not experience PAWS. Protracted withdrawal symptoms 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 Anxiety and Insomnia

Ativan withdrawal can cause rebound symptoms to occur. These symptoms are enhanced, temporary symptoms, such as anxiety or insomnia, which led an individual to begin taking Ativan. The symptoms can occur one to four days after taking the last dose of Ativan. Rebound symptoms occur as a result of quickly stopping or reducing the dosage of the drug. This is why it is recommended that the individual taking Ativan wean themselves off the drug until a more effective treatment is determined.

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Duration of Withdrawal

The time of withdrawal from Ativan is different for everyone. The frequency and amount of use of the drug will affect the withdrawal process. Those who used high dosages for extended periods of time will experience more severe withdrawal.

When used as an intermediate duration drug, Ativan will remain in a person’s system for an average of 12 hours.

Within 10 to 24 hours of the last dose taken, acute withdrawal can begin. This varies from person to person.

Acute withdrawal symptoms generally last 10 to 14 days and begin to lessen over the next couple of weeks. In individuals, the symptoms have lasted several months.

There is no set timeframe for protracted withdrawal from Ativan due to the lack of research. It has been reported that individuals’ experience protracted withdrawal anywhere from a few months to two years.

Due to the psychological impact of protracted withdrawal, recovering addicts may feel their life is not as enjoyable without the drug. This can lead to a relapse and will need to be addressed as part of the recovery process.

Ativan Withdrawal Timeline

Days 1-3 Symptoms like headache and nausea from acute withdrawal usually begin within the first 24 hours of taking the last dose. The rebound symptoms will start during the first few days. Severe anxiety, rapid heart rate, increase in blood pressure, and insomnia are typical during this time. The rebound symptoms will begin to diminish after several days.
Days 4-7 The withdrawal symptoms tend to be at the highest during this time period. Individuals may experience tremors, cravings, and irritability. The severity of the symptoms differs from person to person.
Days 8-14 Withdrawal symptoms begin to taper off during the second week. Rebound symptoms begin to diminish as well.
Days 15+ After about 15 days, the worst part of the withdrawal process is over. Acute withdrawal symptoms will be gone and any that remain will be mild. This is the point of the withdrawal process when PAWS begins.

Ativan Detox

Individuals addicted to Ativan and other benzodiazepines generally benefit from medically-assisted detoxification. During the detoxification, medications can be given to reduce the effects of the withdrawal symptoms. Medically-assisted detoxification is safer because a physician can monitor the withdrawal symptoms and determine if they become life threatening. The physician is able to intervene as needed when medically-assisted detoxification is chosen.

“I have detoxed so many times it’s ridiculous, but the final one was the hardest and took months. You will be sicker than you ever thought possible, but if you work with a doctor, your treatment center and have support—even if it’s just one person to help you—they can make it less unbearable and you will get through it. Just remember that you won’t always feel that way and things will get better. Just don’t give up.” – Heidi D., in recovery from addiction to Ativan and other drugs

When detoxing from Ativan, the user will wean off the drug until their body no longer is dependent on it. This means taking smaller doses of the drug over a period of time. A doctor can also prescribe a weaker benzodiazepine to help the individual. The weaning process can take several weeks to several months to be complete.

Sleeping Pill Abuse Statistics

Treatment for Ativan Addiction

Ativan users have the best chance for a successful recovery when participating in an inpatient or outpatient program. These programs are designed to help with the detoxification process where it is safe and comfortable. The user will be taught the skills needed to remain clean and sober during recovery.

Getting treatment for addiction can help Ativan users connect with support that will be essential during recovery. During treatment, the relationships built and lessons learned will help recovering Ativan addicts lead a full, happy and addiction-free life. Please call us now for help finding an Ativan addiction treatment program.

Ativan (Lorazepam) Addiction Treatment

Overcoming an Ativan addiction can be difficult. The severe physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms can be easier with medically-assisted detoxification, the proper treatment program, and a support system.

Medical detoxification is one of the safest ways to overcome an Ativan addiction. The physical symptoms of the withdrawal are reduced and manageable. Symptoms of the withdrawal differ from person to person. Medical professionals can make the detoxification process less life-threatening and uncomfortable.

In most inpatient programs, medical detox is the first step in treatment. Outpatient programs also offer medical detoxification which allows the patient to remain living in their home during the treatment process. Both programs will address the psychological aspect of Ativan addiction. They will assist the Ativan addict in obtaining the tools necessary to succeed in their recovery.

A strong support system and ongoing therapy are necessary throughout one’s recovery. There are support groups available nationwide to help with an Ativan addiction.

Ativan-specific Treatment Centers

Finding a treatment center with the expertise in treating Ativan addiction is important. When choosing a treatment center, there are many things that should be considered. Such factors to consider are medical detox services, the length and cost of the program, and treatment of polydrug use and co-occurring disorders.

The following centers offer treatment programs for Ativan users:

Questions about treatment?

Call now to be connected with a compassionate treatment specialist.

Inpatient Rehab for Ativan Addiction

At times, just getting off the drug is not enough, especially for individuals with a severe addiction to Ativan. An inpatient rehabilitation will help. Inpatient treatment programs give the individual a controlled environment in which to recover allowing the patient to focus solely on recovery.

A typical inpatient treatment program is 28 to 90 days. This time frame can be shorter or longer depending on the individual’s progress and needs.

Inpatient treatment generally starts with a medical detoxification allowing the Ativan user to taper off their usage. This process usually takes several weeks. Sometimes long-acting benzodiazepines, like Valium, are used to reduce withdrawal symptoms.

One patient completed a 30-day inpatient rehab program for addictions to Ativan, alcohol and Valium. She was given Valium and Xanax to help with withdrawal. Although treatment wasn’t easy, it was definitely worth it.

“Detox took weeks…[in recovery] you have to be open-minded. You have to be willing to have a new way of life. I am so much happier. I never knew life could be this great.” – Terri H., in recovery for 11 years

Many inpatient treatment programs involve attending therapy, classes, and meetings. Participation in recreational activities helps promote healing as well. Some inpatient treatment programs provide a structured daily schedule while other provide more individualized services. When receiving treatment for an Ativan addiction, the treatment should look at the physical and psychological aspects. Detoxification will only help with the physical dependence. The psychological dependence must be addressed as well. There are many different treatment and therapies approaches to address these needs. They are:

As with all programs, an inpatient treatment for Ativan addiction is not the same for each person. It’s extremely important that the individual find the program that will meet their needs in order to be able to be successful in their recovery.

“First of all, you have to really want it and be ready. If you don’t “get it,” it won’t work. You have to be completely honest with yourself and trust the process. The right program is essential and AA and NA may not work for everyone. It’s up to you to decide what you need to get and stay sober.” – Heidi D., in recovery from addiction to Ativan and other drugs

Need help finding an Inpatient Rehabilitation Program for Ativan addiction? Please call us today.

Ongoing Treatment and Relapse Prevention Strategies

While Inpatient treatment programs are suited for those with a severe addiction, Outpatient treatment programs are generally suited for those with a mild to moderate addiction. Outpatient programs are designed as an alternative for those who are unable to leave home or can’t afford inpatient treatment. Individuals in outpatient treatment usually attend therapy and support groups throughout the day.

Detoxification is also available with outpatient programs. The program is similar to an inpatient treatment program. Patients decrease the doses of Ativan over an extended time period or by taking a long-acting benzodiazepine to wean off the drug.

Treatment that is ongoing has been effective in helping people be successful in recovery. By continuing therapy and participating in support groups, Ativan users are able to interact with other individuals with the same daily struggles in a safe, comfortable atmosphere. They are able to express their feelings and be accountable to others, which is important in order to avoid relapse.

Tips for avoiding relapse include:

  • Join a support group– Support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are available nationwide. Popular alternatives like SMART Recovery, which also helps those with co-occurring disorders, are available if you don’t want to participate in a 12 Step program.
  • Have a support system– Having a support system is important. Family members, friends, a sponsor, or someone you meet in a group can be a part of your support system. Members of your support system can hold you accountable, support you when you are feeling down, and guide you on your road to recovery.
  • Know your triggers and avoid them– Understanding what led you to use Ativan or any other drug is important. After you have been able to identify your triggers, people places, or situations that make you crave Ativan, you will be able set boundaries and maintain your sobriety.
  • Stay away from people you abused drugs with– One of the hardest parts of maintaining your sobriety is avoiding relapse. Staying away from people you abused drugs with will be difficult but necessary if you want to avoid a relapse.
  • Talk to a counselor– Seeking out professional help from a therapist or counselor is a good way to manage your stress and anxiety. They will encourage you to talk freely and openly about your addiction and provide the skills and support necessary to help you be successful.
  • Stick to a schedule– Set a schedule for your daily activities and stick to the schedule. Fill you day and mind with activities that do not allow you time to think about using.
  • Take care of your body– Getting the exercise, nutrition, and sleep your body requires is important so that you are physically and mentally strong.

Get Help Now

An Ativan addiction is treatable. There are numerous treatment and ongoing support options available to help Ativan users overcome their addiction. The cost of addiction treatment can be overwhelming, but there are many financing options and insurance plans that can help with paying for treatment.

You don’t have to go through the recovery process alone. There are compassionate specialists who can help you with the struggles you face each day. Please call us now for help finding treatment for your Ativan addiction.