Ativan Withdrawal Symptoms
Ativan is a brand name drug that has the generic drug, lorazepam, as its active ingredient. Ativan, like lorazepam, belongs to the benzodiazepine (often shortened to benzo) class of drugs.
Benzodiazepines are medications indicated for the treatment of anxiety, seizures, and insomnia, as well as other uses. Withdrawal from benzodiazepines without medical supervision can be highly dangerous.
Physical Dependence and Addiction to Ativan
Someone who takes Ativan on a long-term basis may build a physical dependence to it—even when using it for legitimate reasons. This means when they stop taking this drug or dramatically reduce their intake, withdrawal will occur.
Withdrawal is a natural process by which the body adjusts to functioning without a substance it has become dependent on.
When someone experiences withdrawal from Ativan, it may indicate they have a substance use disorder (SUD). However, a patient may experience Ativan withdrawal even if they have been taking the drug as directed for medical reasons.
Ativan Withdrawal Symptoms
Among professionals who treat substance use disorders, there is a consensus that individuals who have been misusing Ativan or other benzos should undergo medical detox. The purposes of medical detox are many, but one main thrust is that this supervised process can help a person to taper off benzos, such as Ativan.
When tapering occurs, the body does not go into withdrawal to a dangerous degree. The tapering process is sensitive to many factors, including the person’s familiar volume of Ativan misuse and length of misuse. For this reason, the doctor who oversees medical detox will work to properly initiate the recovering person into the most suitable tapering dosage, and then continuously and appropriately adjust the dosing downward over the course of the detox period.
Benzodiazepine withdrawal is associated with a host of symptoms, all of which can be lessened or avoided if an effective tapering process is initiated and maintained. The severity of withdrawal depends on several factors, including, but not limited to:
- The extent to which Ativan was misused.
- How long the patient has been using Ativan.
- Whether the patient has been misusing other substances with Ativan (e.g., alcohol, opioids, stimulants) concurrently.
- The patient’s general health.
The following includes common symptoms associated with withdrawal from Ativan (and the benzodiazepine drug class in general):
- Drug cravings
- Short-term memory loss
- Rapid heartrate
In addition to these possible withdrawal symptoms, in some instances, a recovering person will develop a condition known as post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS). On the first day of withdrawal from Ativan, or even after the first week or two, recovering individuals may not know that they are experiencing PAWS. Typically, the early withdrawal symptoms (such as any listed above) will merge into more persistent ones that can last for months. From a clinical standpoint, these long-term symptoms are not considered to be symptoms of withdrawal per se, but rather the after-effects of having misused Ativan or other benzodiazepines on a long-term basis.
PAWS, as it relates to benzodiazepine misuse and recovery, can include the following symptoms:
- Tinnitus (ears ringing)
- Tingling and/or numbness in limbs,
- Motor-related problems (e.g., tremors, muscle tension, and muscle jerking)
- Gastrointestinal symptoms, including the stomach being distended by gas, cramping, and food intolerances.
Although the exact timeline of PAWS depends on the affected individual, it is important to bear in mind that these prolonged symptoms will eventually subside in response to appropriate medical attention and care.
Tapering off Ativan during Medical Detox
As explained, the tapering process is tailored to each recovering person’s specific needs. As tapering is the main medical approach to ensuring safety in the Ativan withdrawal process, the following facts and informational points are insightful:
- The detoxification process should be consistent and modified, over the course of the treatment, to respond to the recovering person’s needs as they progress and change. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to tapering off Ativan.
- Some research indicates that a faster detoxification process can contribute to relapse. Individuals in recovery are best advised to expect a timeframe for tapering off the drug that best promotes long-term abstinence. This will vary from person to person.
- The medical detox process should be supported with therapy and other addiction recovery services.
Following detox, it’s important that patients continue with addiction treatment in a rehab center or other type of addiction recovery program, as this greatly increases the likelihood of success in long-term sobriety.
Recovery First, one of American Addiction Centers’ Florida drug detox centers, offers medical detox, as well as rehab in a variety of settings, including residential (inpatient) treatment, partial hospitalization, and intensive outpatient care.
We are ready to help you overcome addiction and find long-term recovery. Call us today at to learn more about addiction treatment near you.