Ativan & Lorazepam Addiction
Ativan is the brand name for Lorazepam, a benzodiazepine drug that is used in treating anxiety. It affects chemicals in the brain that are known to cause anxiety when they become unbalanced. In its pure form, this drug is an almost white powder that is almost insoluble in water and oil. It is generally available as tablets or a solution for injection, although it has also been available as a skin patch.
To identify Ativan, look for a five-sided, white tablet with a raised “A” on one side. The drug is available in three different strengths and is only legally available by prescription. Those seeking the drug illegally can find it on the Internet, but these alternatives are likely to contain dangerous ingredients.
The potential for misuse of Ativan is high and can cause psychological and physical addiction. The drug creates a feeling of well-being, activating an intense reward system in the brain. Abuse occurs in either recreational use when the drug is used to achieve a high or where it is used long term against medical advice. It is believed that those with addictive personalities are more likely to become addicted to this type of medication.
The drug has also been known to be used by criminals deliberately seeking to raise their sense of inhibition before committing a crime and as a date rape drug when mixed with alcohol. According to a U.S. government study of pharmaceutical-related emergency room visits, Ativan and other benzodiazepines are the most commonly used pharmaceutical drugs in attempted suicides.
An Ativan user who is actually abusing or overdosing on the drug can exhibit symptoms that can vary according to amount of use, but generally include:
• Central nervous system depression
• Mental confusion
• Paradoxical reactions
• Cardiovascular depression
• Respiratory depression
• Hypnotic state
In the worse case scenario, abusers can overdose on Ativan to the extent that it causes death. If the drug is combined with alcohol, it can cause fatal respiratory depression. Taken together with alcohol can also cause synergistic enhancement of the effects such as reduced inhibitions, and it can create memory loss.
Ativan users that have come to abuse the drug will experience severe withdrawal symptoms if the drug is stopped abruptly. Behavioral therapies are often used to treat Ativan addiction and can include counseling, psychotherapy, support groups, or family therapy. Experts recommend that for long-term success, medical treatment should be combined with concurrent behavioral therapies and social services.