Ativan addiction is a chronic condition that is characterized by a pattern of problematic behaviors that continue despite negative consequences, and an inability to control Ativan use. Addiction is a progressive condition, meaning that it generally does not resolve, and will likely worsen without treatment.
Ativan, which is the brand name for lorazepam, belongs to a category of drugs known as benzodiazepines, which are central nervous system (CNS) depressants. Benzodiazepines also include medications such as Xanax (alprazolam), Valium (diazepam), and Klonopin (clonazepam). Ativan is typically prescribed to treat anxiety.
Like other substance use disorders, addiction to Ativan can have negative effects on various areas of functioning. Ativan addiction can lead to significant impairment, and cause problems in many areas of life, including physical health, mental health, interpersonal relationships, performance at work, school, or home, financial, or legal issues.
This article will discuss the following topics:
- Signs and symptoms of Ativan addiction.
- Ativan addiction recovery options.
- Paying for treatment.
- What causes an Ativan addiction?
- Long-term effects of Ativan abuse.
- Get help today.
Signs and Symptoms of Ativan Addiction
Ativan is a prescription medication that is primarily used to treat anxiety, although in rare cases it may be used for insomnia as well 1. Ativan, along with other benzodiazepines, is known to be an addictive drug, due to its effects on certain chemical pathways and neurotransmitters in the brain 2. Ativan produces its calming effects by enhancing the activity of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), an inhibitory neurotransmitter, and produces its euphoric effects by temporarily stimulating the release of excessive dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward. Over time, continued use of Ativan can create long-term changes in the reward centers of the brain, further contributing to its addictive nature 2.
Ativan addiction has many different signs and symptoms that you should be aware of. These signs vary greatly and can be behavioral, psychological, or physical. Some of the possible behavioral signs and symptoms of Ativan addiction can include 3:
- Taking more Ativan than intended, or for a longer period of time than originally planned.
- Wanting to cut down on stop using Ativan, but unable to do so.
- Spending a large amount of time obtaining, using, or recovering from the effects of Ativan.
- Experiencing strong cravings to use Ativan.
- Being unable to fulfill duties at work, school, or home due to Ativan use.
- Continuing to use Ativan even after experiencing social or interpersonal issues that are caused by or made worse by using Ativan.
- Cutting back on or giving up important social, work-related, or leisure activities due to use of Ativan.
- Using Ativan in potentially harmful situations, such as while driving.
- Continuing to use despite a recurring physical or psychiatric issue that is due to or worsened by Ativan use.
- Inappropriate sexual or aggressive behavior.
If someone is addicted to Ativan, they may exhibit the following physical and psychological signs of abuse 3,4:
- Mood swings.
- Impaired judgment.
- Slurred speech.
- Lack of coordination.
- Attention problems.
- Memory impairment.
- Developing a tolerance, or requiring increased amounts of Ativan to achieve the desired result.
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when unable to use Ativan, such as sweating, rapid heart rate, tremors, insomnia, nausea or vomiting, hallucinations, anxiety, or seizures.
If you or a loved one is experiencing some of these signs and symptoms, please call our confidential helpline at 1-888-439-3435 Who Answers? . Addiction support advisors are available to help you determine the proper course of treatment to overcome an addiction to Ativan.
Ativan Addiction Recovery Options
Ativan addiction can be treated effectively. It is never too late to find a recovery program and overcome an addiction. While it is possible to quit using Ativan without a rehab, seeking formal treatment in an addiction treatment program can be beneficial for a number of reasons. These can include managing the life-threatening withdrawal symptoms with medically supervised detox, addressing the underlying issues that led to the addiction in the first place, and learning effective relapse prevention techniques. There may also be underlying mental health issues, such as anxiety or depression, or physical issues, such as seizures or insomnia, that should be treated properly to help individuals maintain long-term sobriety.
It is never too late to find a recovery program and overcome an addiction.Seeking assistance from a treatment program can help individuals get and stay sober in the long run. Having a structured routine in place, as well as the support from treatment professionals and peers in recovery can be crucial in early recovery from Ativan addiction. Many treatment facilities also provide medical and psychiatric care as needed, since individuals may come in with co-occurring physical or psychological disorders.
Since addiction is not a one-size-fits-all diagnosis, treatment isn’t either. There are a wide variety of rehab options that are available. Any and all of the treatment options can be effective, and no one specific choice is superior to another. Treatment is most effective when it matches the needs and beliefs of the individual seeking help and is specifically tailored to the individual 5.
Some of the different treatment types include:
- Detox: Although detox is not technically a form of treatment, it is a valuable first step towards sobriety. A detox program provides medical supervision while the individual withdraws from Ativan. Tapering doses of medication are often provided to ease the painful and potentially fatal symptoms of withdrawal. While attending a detox is a good start to recovery, it is rarely sufficient to create lasting change and long-term sobriety on its own 5.
- Inpatient: This type of treatment occurs in a live-in setting where individuals follow a structured schedule of intensive individual and group therapy while receiving peer support. Self-help meetings may be included in the treatment program. Inpatient treatment can last for varying lengths, including 28-30 days, 60 days, 90 days, or longer, based on the individual’s needs.
- Outpatient: This type of treatment involves individual and group counseling several times each week, while the individual is able to live at home. It allows the individual to attend to their regular work, school, or home responsibilities while still receiving effective treatment.
- Luxury: This occurs in a private inpatient setting, where cutting-edge treatments, high-end amenities, and private rooms are provided to enhance the treatment process. Luxury rehabs generally have more staff available to attend to each patient but also have a higher cost.
- Executive: This type of treatment allows executives access to telephones or computers to handle business responsibilities while receiving top quality treatment for addiction. In many cases, luxury amenities may be included to enhance the recovery process as well.
- 12-step programs: Fellowship programs, such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA), are based on 12-step philosophy and incorporate the 12 steps into treatment, generally focusing on the first three steps, which are 6:
- “We admitted that we were powerless over our addiction, that our lives had become unmanageable.”
- “We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”
- “We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.”
- Holistic: This type of treatment incorporates holistic therapies into the recovery process. These can include acupuncture, yoga, exercise, biofeedback, hypnosis, nutrition, meditation, and prayer as part of the treatment program.
- Teen: Adolescents in recovery face different challenges than adults, and often require specialized treatment to address their needs. Teen-oriented rehabs may utilize different treatment techniques, and even extend treatment services to the family since this can be an integral part of the recovery process for teens.
- LGBTQ: Individuals in the LGBTQ population also have specific treatment needs, and traditional rehabs may be less suited for treatment for this population. LGBTQ clients may feel more comfortable addressing issues with their peers and staff members who have experience working with the LGBTQ population.
- Gender-specific: These treatment programs consist of women-only and men-only facilities. Many men and women find that they are more comfortable in a same-sex recovery group, perhaps due to trauma or problems associated with the opposite sex. It may also reduce the distraction of being in treatment with members of the opposite sex.
- Veterans: This population also has unique needs in treatment. While providing treatment for the addiction, staff may also address trauma or PTSD issues have arisen in conjunction with prior military service. Once again, being in a peer group of veterans may make it easier to address certain issues or topics.
Ativan addiction is often treated with a combination of medication and behavioral therapy, which can be highly effective at getting clients sober and enabling them to stay sober in the long-run 5. During the withdrawal process, individuals may be slowly tapered off of Ativan or they may be transitioned to a different long-acting benzodiazepine with limited addiction potential, such as Librium (chlordiazepoxide).
Any underlying anxiety or insomnia issue must be addressed in treatment if an individual is to stay abstinent from Ativan. Doctors may prescribe non-benzodiazepine medications with low addiction potential to manage these issues, and longer-term non-pharmacologic interventions for stress management and sleep hygiene will begin to be implemented. Any other mental or physical health issues will also be addressed in treatment, and medications may be prescribed to manage co-occurring conditions.
Paying for Treatment
There is no specific set price for Ativan addiction treatment. The cost of treatment depends on a variety of factors, such as:
- The type of treatment chosen: Luxury treatment programs cost more than traditional inpatient, while outpatient is cheaper than either option.
- The duration of the program: Longer periods of treatment will incur higher costs.
- The amenities offered: Luxury amenities will raise the cost more than traditional treatment options.
- The location of the facility: Out-of-state treatment and desirable locations, such as beach-front, will cost more than a local facility.
- Your insurance policy: Many insurance plans cover some or all of addiction treatment, depending on the program you choose.
If you have health insurance coverage, call your insurance company to learn more about your insurance coverage and the addiction treatment options available to you.
If you don’t have insurance, you can still finance treatment in a variety of ways, including:
- Sliding scale fees: Some rehabs offer reduced fees for patients with limited funding.
- Payment plans: Many rehabs work to set up a payment plan so treatment can be provided and paid off over time.
- Asking friends and family: Sometimes friends and family members may be willing to contribute to a fund to pay for treatment.
- Crowdfunding: Creating a GoFundMe or IndieGoGo campaign can recruit a large number of people to contribute.
- Using a credit card or savings: Using your savings, credit, or taking out a loan can be a huge investment in your future.
The most important thing is the health, happiness, and sobriety of those affected by Ativan addiction. Treatment is invaluable, and you can’t place a price on the life of yourself or a loved one who is struggling with an addiction.
What Causes an Ativan Addiction?
Addiction is a complex condition that is not caused by one specific factor, but rather by several factors that predispose individuals towards addiction. These can include:
- Genetics: Addiction can be genetically linked, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that someone with a genetic predisposition towards addiction will always develop a substance use disorder. That being said, the heritability rate varies between substances, and it is about .5 for sedatives, which means that 50% of the addiction can be contributed to DNA 7.
- Environmental risk factors: Living in a stressful environment, having easy accessibility to drugs, lack of parental involvement, or living in poverty can increase the risk of developing an addiction to Ativan 8.
- Trauma: Adverse childhood experiences, such as abuse, neglect, or a dysfunctional home life can increase the risk of early substance abuse and developing an addiction 9.
- Mental health: Mental health issues are linked to developing addictions, with about half of all individuals with addictions also being diagnosed with a co-occurring mental health disorder 10.
Long-term Effects of Ativan Abuse
Chronic Ativan use can have debilitating effects on a user’s mental and physical health. Long-term effects of Ativan use can include 3,11:
- Impaired memory.
- Difficulty concentrating.
- Confusion and cognitive impairment.
- Muscle weakness.
- Lack of motor skills.
- Emotional numbness.
- Increased risk of overdose, if combined with alcohol or other CNS depressants.
- Prolonged withdrawal, which can last for numerous months. Protracted withdrawal symptoms may include anxiety, depression, and insomnia.
- Intravenous effects, such as contraction of hepatitis or HIV, injection site infection or abscesses (track marks), or collapsed veins.
In addition to these consequences, addiction can affect other areas of life. These can include:
- Poor performance at work or school.
- Loss of job or expulsion from school.
- Legal trouble resulting from assault, dealing drugs, or driving under the influence.
- Strained interpersonal relationships, such as loss of close friends or divorce.
- Neglecting family duties or children.
- Increased risk of accidents.
Get Help Today
If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction to Ativan, please call our confidential helpline today at 1-888-439-3435 Who Answers? . Addiction support advisors are available to explain addiction treatment options to you and to help guide you to find the right treatment center for your needs.
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- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2012). Well-known mechanism underlies benzodiazepines’ addictive properties.
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- Mayo Clinic. (2015). Lorazepam (oral route).
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2012). Principles of drug addiction treatment: A research-based guide (3rd edition).
- Narcotics Anonymous. (1998). Institutional group guide.
- Bevilacqua, L., & Goldman, D. (2009). Genes and addictions. Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 85(4), 359–361.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2003). Preventing drug use among children and adolescents.
- Dube, S.R., Felitti, V.J., Dong, M., Chapman, D.P., Giles, W.H., & Anda, R.F. (2003). Childhood abuse, neglect, and household dysfunction and the risk of illicit drug use: The adverse childhood experiences study. Pediatrics, 111(3).
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2010). Comorbidity: Addiction and other mental illnesses.
- Longo, L.P., & Johnson, B. (2000). Addiction: Part I. Benzodiazepines—side effects, abuse risk and alternatives.