Ativan’s Sedative Properties Can be Quickly Addictive
Millions of people experience levels of anxiety that are life disrupting, and Ativan is a prescription drug becoming more common for these patients. Officially known as Lorazepam, Ativan can also be used for sleeplessness, withdrawal from alcohol addiction, children’s seizures and for helping with the side effects of chemotherapy. Because the drug slows a person’s pain response, its sedating qualities can become addictive and the drug can be easily abused.
Lorazepam is part of the benzodiazepine drug class, which include sedative-type drugs for treating depression, panic disorders and sleep disorders. Withdrawal symptoms are similar to other benzodiazepines, which are central nervous system depressants. These symptoms include perspiration, shaking or nausea. The drug is effective because it targets the gamma-aminobutyric acid, a neurotransmitter, and causes a reaction in the nervous system that lessens feelings of mental or physical overstimulation.
Side effects for regular users can include tiredness and slower reaction times when driving. Some people also experience lessened coordination or muscle weakness; forgetfulness or slowed speech. Socially, Ativan can cause a person to forget things they have said or done, and can even bring on short-term amnesia. For older patients, the cognitive problems can last longer.
For some people, Ativan brings about aggressive or hostile behaviors instead of producing a calming effect – a result more likely in people who already have personality disorder problems. Additional serious side effects can also occur, like decreased blood pressure or problems with respiration. The drug can change liver function over time and may also contribute to kidney damage.
Lorazepam can be taken by patch on the skin, by mouth or intravenously, which produces the fastest response. The drug has powerful sedative effects and is not recommended to be given in a single dose, but rather dispersed over a period of hours. Ativan is sometimes used to help treat patients suffering from alcohol withdrawal – but can be deadly if consumed in conjunction with alcohol.
For teens who have overwhelming levels of anxiety, especially in combination with physical symptoms, Ativan has been prescribed in conjunction with counseling or mental health therapies. A physician should carefully monitor teen use of Ativan to help prevent addiction and side effects.
Due to chances of physical withdrawal, Ativan is not often prescribed for time periods longer than four months. A dose considered typical for new users is 1 to 3 mg daily, spread across doses. Addiction to Ativan may cause hallucinations or extreme panic. A patient is more likely to become addicted to Ativan the longer they take it, and people who have had previous substance addictions may also become addicted more easily.
Like many prescription drugs for anxiety, users do not initially believe an addiction will set in when they begin using Ativan. Treatment can include detoxification and counseling, as well as family and social support for recovery.