Lorazepam (Ativan) is a benzodiazepine medication primarily prescribed for the short-term treatment of anxiety and panic attacks. Although lorazepam is safe when taken as prescribed by a doctor, it can have debilitating effects for those who misuse or abuse it, including the development of an addiction. Lorazepam addiction can significantly impair a person’s life functioning and lead to severe physical and mental health problems.
This article will discuss the following information concerning lorazepam addiction:
- Lorazepam addiction treatment.
- The price of treatment.
- How to pay for treatment.
- Signs and symptoms of lorazepam addiction.
- Risk factors for lorazepam addiction.
- Long-term consequences of lorazepam abuse.
- Find a recovery program.
Lorazepam Addiction Treatment
Lorazepam addiction is a treatable condition and many people recover.
Lorazepam is a prescription benzodiazepine medication that works by depressing the central nervous system (CNS) and producing relaxation 1. Because users can quickly become both tolerant to and dependent on the drug, it is only intended for short-term medical use. Addiction is most likely to occur in those who do not use the medication properly. Some ways that people misuse or abuse lorazepam may include:
- Taking higher doses than prescribed.
- Taking the medication more often than prescribed.
- Combining lorazepam with other drugs or alcohol.
- Using in ways other than directed (such as crushing and snorting the drug or dissolving it in liquid and injecting).
Lorazepam addiction is a treatable condition and many people recover. While it is possible to quit using Lorazepam on your own, attending a professional addiction treatment program can be beneficial for many reasons including the following:
- Psychotherapy: Psychotherapy can help patients uncover underlying psychological reasons such as past traumas, concurrent mental health conditions, and other unresolved issues, which may be contributing to addictive behaviors. Therapists can also teach addicted individuals coping skills for dealing with stress and triggers, which can help them maintain sobriety in the long-term.
- Routine and Structure: Treatment programs provide routine and structure that can help prevent relapse by keeping people occupied and less likely to be triggered to use out of boredom.
- Support: Professional treatment comes with many sources of support for people battling addictions, which they may not have access to if they quit on their own. Support comes in the form of therapists, counselors, nurses, physicians, and most importantly, peers who are going through similar struggles. In addition to being in treatment with others facing similar addictions, most treatment centers provide on-site support groups and 12-step programs as well.
- Medical Care: Medical care is another added benefit of treatment, particularly during the withdrawal process. Withdrawal symptoms can be painful, uncomfortable, and occasionally life-threatening. It can be dangerous for people to withdraw from Lorazepam on their own. Treatment centers often offer detox services where people can slowly taper off lorazepam under a doctor’s care and supervision, often with the use of medications, such as long-acting benzodiazepines, to ease withdrawal symptoms.
- Medications: As an important facet of the aforementioned medical care, professional addiction treatment programs provide a supervised setting wherein medications may be administered to keep someone safe during the detox process, ease withdrawal symptoms, or to treat co-occurring mental health disorders, such as depression.
There are many different treatment options available to those suffering from lorazepam addiction—each with its own strengths and weaknesses. What works best for one person may not work for another. What’s most important is that a person’s treatment meets their individual needs and is well aligned with their personal values and beliefs.
Some of the many treatment options available for lorazepam addiction include:
- Short-term detox: Detox occurs when a person withdraws from lorazepam under medical supervision. This may take place on an outpatient basis where a physician slowly lowers a patient’s dosage so that they can taper off the drug over time. It may also cover in a hospital or detox facility in severe cases. The medical supervision team may provide medications to help alleviate withdrawal symptoms and maximize safety and comfort until the withdrawal period has passed.
- Inpatient Treatment: Inpatient addiction treatment takes place in a residential facility on a 24/7 basis for a designated period of time (ranges from 28 to 90 days). Inpatient treatment allows people the opportunity to focus exclusively on recovery without the added pressures of the outside world. Inpatient treatment usually includes some combination of detox, individual counseling, group therapy, and 12-step programs or support groups.
- Outpatient Treatment: Outpatient treatment facilities often utilize a range of treatment modalities similar to those found in inpatient rehabs, except care takes place on a part-time basis while the patient continues to reside at home. This option may be best for those with less severe addictions that wish to remain involved in their daily lives throughout treatment.
- Luxury Rehab: There are a variety of luxury rehab centers available across the country that provide upscale amenities to enhance the treatment experience. Some of the many amenities that may be offered at a luxury rehab center include private rooms, gourmet meals, massage and spa treatments, swimming pools, fitness centers, and nutritional counseling.
- Executive Rehab: Executive rehab centers are similar to luxury treatment facilities except they also cater to executives who want to continue working while receiving addiction treatment. Amenities may include private rooms, work rooms, internet, and phones.
- 12-Step Programs: 12 step programs, such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and Pills Anonymous (PA), are available for individuals addicted to lorazepam. These programs provide addicts with a structured path toward recovery amidst the support of peers on the same path.
- Holistic Treatment: There are many holistic treatment centers available that provide a variety of alternative and complementary treatments in lieu of or in addition to standard addiction treatments. Some of these holistic treatment options include yoga, meditation, music therapy, art therapy, and acupuncture.
- Population-specific: Some addiction treatment programs are geared towards the needs of special populations. Some of the populations that have exclusive addiction treatment centers available to them include women-only, men-only, LGBT, teens, and veterans.
Today, insurance companies recognize addiction for what it is-a disease that can and should be treated.
How Much Does Treatment Cost?
There is no set price for lorazepam addiction treatment. Costs of addiction treatment can vary greatly depending on a number of factors, such as:
- The type of treatment program.
- The duration of treatment.
- The amenities offered.
- The location of the treatment center.
- Your health insurance policy.
How to Pay for Treatment
While the price of treatment may seem daunting at first, consider it an investment in your future.
Don’t fret if you don’t have health insurance. There are still many viable means of financing addiction treatment. Some suggestions include the following:
- Sliding scale/payment plan: Many treatment centers offer sliding scale rates based on income as well as the option to work on a payment plan and pay off the costs of your treatment slowly over time. Check with the treatment center you plan to attend to see what options they have available.
- Personal savings: While it may be challenging to let go of your personal savings that you have worked hard to accumulate, it could be the best decision you ever made for yourself.
- Asking friends and family: It may take some humility to ask them, but you may want to consider asking your family members or friends if they’d be willing to lend you money to cover the costs of treatment. Many people just want to see their loved ones healthy and happy. If they know treatment will improve your life, they’re likely to offer help if they can.
- Starting a crowdfunding campaign: A crowdfunding campaign on websites such as GoFundMe and IndieGoGo can be an easy and effective way to raise money from multiple friends, family members, and even anonymous donors. Simply create an online account that explains your treatment goals and the amount of money you need and start fundraising.
- Credit card or personal loan: If all else fails, you may want to consider covering your treatment costs using a credit card or personal loan. Just be sure that the repayment plan and interest are affordable for you so that you don’t end up with the added stressor of a payment you can’t afford when you leave treatment.
Remember, there is nothing more important than your health, happiness, and sobriety. While the price of treatment may seem daunting at first, consider it an investment in your future.
Signs and Symptoms of Lorazepam Addiction
There are many different signs and symptoms of Lorazepam addiction, some of which are physical, whereas others are behavioral and psychological. Some of the behavioral signs and symptoms of lorazepam addiction include 3:
- Taking lorazepam in larger amounts or for longer periods than originally intended.
- Spending a great deal of time obtaining and using lorazepam.
- Continuing to use lorazepam in situations where it is physically dangerous to do so (such as when operating a motor vehicle).
- Failing to maintain personal and professional responsibilities as a result of lorazepam use.
- Displaying secretive behavior surrounding lorazepam use.
- Exhibiting defensiveness when approached about lorazepam use.
- Abandoning previously enjoyed activities in favor of lorazepam use.
- Continuing to use lorazepam despite knowledge of the problems it is causing or exacerbating.
Some of the physical and psychological signs and symptoms of lorazepam abuse may include 9,10:
- Slurred speech.
- Coordination problems.
- Unsteady gait.
- Impaired memory, attention, and judgment.
- Mood swings.
- Intense cravings to use lorazepam.
- Poor hygiene.
- Unkempt appearance.
- Tolerance (needing more of the drug to achieve the same effect).
- Withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety, irritability, sweating, nausea and vomiting, hallucinations, and tremors.
- Paradoxical disinhibition symptoms, such as hostility, impulsivity, aggression, irritability, and excitement. This type of reaction is rare but when it occurs, it may result in antisocial or violent behaviors.
Risk Factors for Lorazepam Addiction
Addiction is a multi-faceted condition. Rather than having a single cause, it may instead be influenced by several risk factors, such as 4,5,6,7,8:
- Genetics: Although there is not one single gene that causes addiction, in many cases it does have a distinct genetic component. People with addicted parents may be more susceptible to developing an addiction themselves but susceptibility does not mean inevitability. Just because addiction runs in a person’s family, does not mean that he will become addicted.
- Environmental Risk Factors: There are several environmental factors that can interact with genes and increase a person’s risk of addiction. These factors may include poverty, peer or family substance abuse, lack of parental supervision, academic issues, or adverse childhood experiences (such as abuse or neglect).
- Trauma: Trauma is significantly correlated with drug addiction. About 59% of young people diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) will end up developing a substance use disorder.
- Mental Health: People suffering from a mental health disorder are also more likely to have an addiction. Those with anxiety or mood disorders are twice as likely to develop a substance use disorder than those without.
Long-term Consequences of Lorazepam Abuse
Lorazepam addiction is progressive and without addiction treatment, your condition may worsen over time. Chronic lorazepam abuse can have negative consequences on many parts of a user’s life. These potential long-term effects may include 10:
- Tolerance to the effects of lorazepam, requiring the user to take increasing doses.
- Dependence, which means that a user must take lorazepam to avoid withdrawal symptoms.
- Suicidal thoughts and behaviors.
- Emotional blunting or numbing.
- Increased risk of overdose if mixed with other depressants, such as alcohol or opioids.
There are many other potential consequences of lorazepam addiction that can negatively impact one’s personal, social and professional life, such as:
- Relationship difficulties, such as divorce or loss of close friends.
- Poor work or school performance.
- Job loss.
- Legal issues.
- Financial problems.
- Injuries due to accidents.
Find a Recovery Program
If you or someone you love is struggling with lorazepam addiction, support and treatment are available. For more information on your rehabilitation options, call our recovery hotline at 1-888-439-3435 Who Answers? .
- U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2010). Lorazepam.
- Federal and Drug Administration. (2007). Ativan: Medication Guide.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2014). The Science of Drug Abuse and Addiction: The Basics.
- University of Utah: Genetic Science Learning Center. Genes and Addiction: Susceptibility Does Not Mean Inevitability.
- Youth.Gov. Risk and Protective Factors.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). (2016). Adverse Childhood Experiences.
- National Child Traumatic Stress Network. (2008). Making the Connection: Trauma and Substance Abuse.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2010). Comorbidity: Addiction and Other Mental Illnesses.
- American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.
- Longo, L.P., Johnson, B. (2000). Addiction: Part 1. Benzodiazepines-side effects, abuse risk and alternatives. American Family Physician, 61 (7), 2121-2128.