Ativan (Lorazepam) is a branded prescription drug used to treat anxiety disorders, seizures, and insomnia. It is among the most widely prescribed drugs in the country. Ativan belongs to a class of drugs called benzodiazepines.
Benzos, as they are often called, are central nervous system depressants that have a calming and relaxing effect.If youUnfortunately, tolerance and dependency are not uncommon.
Ativan is one of the most commonly prescribed benzodiazepines. In 2017, doctors wrote nearly 26.5 million prescriptions for Ativan alone.If youIf you
As of 2018, an estimated 5.4 million people over the age of 12 were abusing prescription benzodiazepines such as Ativan.If youIf you
Unfortunately, Ativan withdrawal affects not only people who have abused the drug, but also their family members and loved ones.
If you use Ativan every day for more than a few weeks, you can expect some withdrawal symptoms.
Ativan’s retreat is a challenging, uncomfortable experience. Many people have been taking Ativan regularly for years without realizing how addicted they have become. You may know the feeling of wanting to take an Ativan when you don’t have one, or waiting too long between doses, but withdrawal is a different animal altogether.
Signs and symptoms
Benzos like Ativan were originally intended for short-term use, but long-term use for anxiety and insomnia is commonplace.If youTaking Ativan for as little as three to six weeks, even at therapeutic doses, can lead to physical dependence and mild withdrawal symptoms.
About 40% of people who have been taking benzodiazepines for more than six months will have moderate to severe withdrawal symptoms if they stop taking them suddenly. The other 60% have mild symptoms.If youIf you
The severity of the withdrawal symptoms is also related to your current dose. If you take a high dose of Ativan or mix Ativan with other benzos, your withdrawal symptoms may be more severe.
If your daily dose of Ativan is suddenly stopped or significantly reduced, withdrawal symptoms can occur in as little as eight to 12 hours.
You can expect to feel extremely anxious and irritable for several weeks. The anxiety you experience while you are on Ativan withdrawal is likely worse than the anxiety you had before you started taking it. Insomnia can increase the effects of anxiety, and it can feel like your sleep patterns never return to normal.If youIf you
Many people have severe headaches, hand tremors, and muscle pain. You may find it difficult to concentrate or you may have memory problems. In severe cases of high-dose withdrawal, some people experience hallucinations, delirium, and grand mal seizures.
Other possible symptoms are:If youIf you
- Hand tremors
- Muscle spasms
- a headache
- Racing pulse
- Nausea or vomiting
- Discomfort and pain
- Panic attacks
- Hypersensitivity to stimuli such as light and touch
- Abnormal body sensations (crawling skin, goose bumps)
- Problems with concentration and memory
- Visual disturbances (flashes of light or blurred vision)
- Auditory, tactile, or visual hallucinations
- Feelings of unreality
- Grand Mal seizures
Some studies describe that acute lorazepam withdrawal is worst on day two and improves on day four or five.
Other researchers, including the World Health Organization (WHO), have found that acute symptoms last longer, typically between one and four weeks.If youIf you
It has been estimated that 10 to 25% of long-term benzo users experience something called prolonged withdrawal. Prolonged withdrawal involves milder symptoms that appear and come back over several months.If youIt’s definitely not easy, but it usually resolves on its own within a year.
Coping & Relief
The best way to deal with benzo withdrawal is to give up any attempt to quit the “cold turkey” or all at once. Quitting Ativan takes time and planning. You can avoid the worst of Ativan withdrawal by working with your doctor to reduce your dose. Rejuvenation involves taking increasingly smaller doses of Ativan over a period of several weeks or months.
Before your rejuvenation begins, your doctor may switch you from Ativan to a longer-acting benzo, such as diazepam.If youA long acting drug will help stabilize you and make your rejuvenation smoother.
There isn’t a single rejuvenation plan that works best for everyone. The higher your dose, the more significant your first dose reduction will be.
Once you are stabilized on a lower dose of diazepam, your doctor will reduce your dose by about 10 to 20% each week.If youYour doctor may prescribe you small amounts of the drug at a time to prevent you from taking more than you should.
If you’ve been using Ativan for more than six months, tapering is the only safe way to stop taking the medicine. Rejuvenating will reduce your withdrawal symptoms, but it will not completely eliminate them. You can have symptoms every time your dose is reduced. Consider the following options to deal with these symptoms:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (research on the effectiveness of CBT after three months is mixed)If youIf you
Leaving Ativan’s cold turkey can be dangerous. While it may make you feel like Ativan isn’t a very serious drug, especially if you only take it as directed, it does have powerful effects on your brain. Some drugs, including serious illegal ones like cocaine, are safe to stop using yourself. Benzos aren’t. However, most people do not need to undergo inpatient detox.
It should be sufficient to consult your family doctor or psychiatrist on an outpatient basis.If youYour doctor can monitor your rejuvenation progress through frequent visits and phone calls.
If you’ve had complicated withdrawal, seizures, or severe mental illness in the past, you may be better off in the hospital. This can mean living in a detox or rehab facility for several weeks, where you can be monitored for complications.If youIf you
Ativan withdrawal may coincide with the recurrence of psychiatric symptoms that may have been inactive while taking the drug. This can include severe anxiety, PTSD symptoms, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and depression.If youInpatient treatment may be required if severe symptoms occur.
Talk to your psychiatrist or psychologist about how you can work with your insurance company to get treatment. If you are not insured, there are inpatient facilities that may still be eligible.
The FDA prescription label for Ativan warns of the potential risks of taking Ativan while pregnant and recommends that the decision to continue or discontinue use should be made by every woman with the help of her doctor.If youIf you are pregnant, speak to your psychiatrist or OBGYN about the risks of continuing the medicine and the risks of terminating the pregnancy. If you want to quit while pregnant, medically supervised rejuvenation is the only safe way to do it.
Long term treatment
Ativan withdrawal can feel long and arduous as it tends to come and go as you rejuvenate. Some people finish their dose within three to four weeks, while others can extend their taper for up to 12 months. Longer tapering isn’t associated with better results, but it can be more comfortable for some people.If youIf you
It is very important to complete the taper without reversing direction. An Ativan cone should move forward continuously with decreasing doses.
If withdrawal symptoms occur during rejuvenation, the rejuvenation can be paused to allow the body time to adjust. However, the dose should not be increased.
For those who have abused Ativan, rejuvenating on your own may not be enough to maintain abstinence. Cognitive behavioral and other psychotherapies can help you understand why you need to use or abuse Ativan and help you make healthier choices.
When total abstinence causes psychological distress, some people may seek a reduced dose. By adjusting to a reduced dose, you can reset your tolerance level and avoid the negative side effects of high doses.
If you are interested in stopping or reducing your dose of Ativan, talk to your prescribing doctor first.If youFamily doctors and psychiatrists are both excellent resources. Plan to work with a doctor who is conveniently located and easily accessible to lower your dose. You may need to make a number of office visits.
If you or a loved one is struggling with substance use or addiction, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Authority’s National Helpline (SAMHSA) at 1-800-662-4357 Information about support and treatment facilities in your area.
Additional mental health resources can be found in our National Helpline Database.
A word from Verywell
It’s easy for Ativan to get away from you. Perhaps your dose has increased over the years and you are having trouble concentrating and remembering things. You may only have been using it for a few months, but fear that it will become an emotional crutch. Maybe you don’t remember what it’s like without sleeping. Whatever your reason for leaving Ativan, focus on it as much as possible. Withdrawal can be difficult, but all it’s worth doing is. You will thank you in the end.