ATIVAN ADDICTION AND ABUSE
Ativan (lorazepam) comes from the class of drugs known as benzodiazepines, which act on the central nervous system as depressants and are therefore useful in treating anxiety and sleep disorders. Ativan is most commonly prescribed for acute anxiety, panic attacks, and stress relief, and like all drugs of its type, has a high potential for addiction. In the case of Ativan, users can experience withdrawal and recurrence of insomnia and anxiety after only 7 days use. The potential for addiction to Ativan is higher than with other, similar drugs because its peak effects are relatively prolonged, which can induce a strong craving for the next dose. The longer it is taken, especially at higher dosages, the greater the possibility of developing an Ativan addiction.
While Ativan’s potential for relief of legitimate ailments is very high, so is its potential for abuse. The euphoria induced by most benzodiazepines is caused by chemical changes within the brain which make it dependent on the drug instead of upon naturally-produced endorphins. Users craving that “high” need more and more of the drug to achieve it, resulting in chemical dependency.
Ativan has joined a growing list of prescription drugs being deliberately abused and diverted from pharmaceutical use. In the United States, emergency room visits related to nonmedical use of prescription drugs increased 38% between 2004 and 2006. Of these, lorazepam (Ativan) is listed as the third most commonly abused benzodiazepine. Drugs like Ativan account for almost 60% of drug-related suicide attempts involving pharmaceuticals.
Treatment for Ativan addiction is not a matter of simply stopping the drug. Withdrawal symptoms can occur after just a week of use. These include:
Sudden stoppage of the drug can bring on such severe withdrawal symptoms that it is generally extremely difficult for patients to beat an Ativan addiction by themselves. It takes 18-36 hours for the drug to clear itself from the body, during which time the cravings can be so intense and the withdrawal symptoms so unpleasant that most addicts give in and resume taking it. People who try to self-medicate with alcohol as a substitute may end up dead. Ativan adds to the depressive effects of alcohol and can cause fatal respiratory arrest.
The proper course of treatment for Ativan addiction varies depending upon the individual patient and degree of dependency. Gradual withdrawal over time, the use of substitute drugs short-term, or detoxification and management of symptoms during withdrawal are typical methodologies. It should always be done under a doctor’s care, one with experience in treating drug addiction and who is familiar with the dangers in Ativan. Addiction to this class of drugs is rising so rapidly that patients should inform themselves of the dangers, and seek immediate treatment at any sign of dependency.