Understanding Lorazepam and Withdrawal
Lorazepam, also known by the brand name Ativan, is an anti-anxiety medication that can help people suffering from panic attacks, anxiety anxiety-induced insomnia, and anxiety attacks linked to depression.
Despite these important uses, it’s vital for anyone taking any form of lorazepam to understand the high potential for addiction the drug carries and how to spot the symptoms of lorazepam withdrawal.
How Lorazepam Works
Doctors prescribe lorazepam for short-term relief of various anxiety disorders. There are no clinical studies that support long-term use, or any use lasting longer than four months.
Lorazepam is a member of the family of drugs called benzodiazepines that act on the central nervous system. It works to relieve the symptoms of anxiety by enhancing the effects of naturally produced chemicals in the brain linked to stress and relaxation, known as GABA.
Lorazepam prevents areas of the brain from becoming overstimulated, which can lead to panic attacks and other symptoms of acute anxiety. By boosting GABA levels in the brain’s chemistry, lorazepam makes sure nerve cells don’t get overworked and create the adverse effects of anxiety such as insomnia, depression, the “fight or flight” reflex sensation and other symptoms.
Potential for Addiction and Abuse
Like many other drugs, there is a risk of benzodiazepine addiction for those who take Ativan and other forms of lorazepam. People with substance abuse problems shouldn’t take lorazepam or combine it with other drugs, as these interactions may prove fatal.
Additionally, the brain will naturally build a tolerance to lorazepam and the individual will need increasingly larger doses to achieve the desired effect. Over time, this escalates into a dependency that requires careful attention.
Detox for lorazepam requires medical supervision. Suddenly stopping lorazepam use after dependency forms can be disastrous and potentially deadly.
Withdrawal from Anti-Anxiety Drugs
Lorazepam exists for short-term use, and after a patient completes a round of Ativan treatment, he or she should speak to a doctor about how to stop taking Ativan safely. It’s important to taper these medications slowly, instead of stopping all at once.
Although lorazepam is an anti-anxiety medication, the symptoms of withdrawal can actually cause some paradoxical reactions such as:
Ativan Detox and Lorazepam Rehabilitation
Once a person forms a dependency on lorazepam, it’s vital to seek out a lorazepam rehab program equipped to handle the potentially extreme side effects of withdrawal.
While mild symptoms may include a lorazepam withdrawal headache, insomnia, irritability and anxiety, sudden stoppage can actually cause serious psychological problems, including:
- Suicidal thoughts
- Bouts of rage
Ativan Withdrawal Timeline
It’s important for anyone taking Ativan to understand the risks of withdrawal after stopping the medication. Even people who take Ativan or any other type of lorazepam exactly as prescribed may experience withdrawal symptoms. Anyone nearing the end of a prescription should speak to his or her doctor about safely stopping this medication.
Additionally, it’s vital for anyone starting a lorazepam prescription to understand the high risk this drug carries for dependency. Some people form an addiction to lorazepam in as little as one week and may be tempted to increase doses without a doctor’s permission.
The Stages of Lorazepam Withdrawal
Once withdrawal occurs, the Ativan withdrawal timeline typically involves three stages. During the first stage of “early withdrawal,” the individual will start to feel the symptoms for he or she started taking lorazepam in the first place.
For example, if a person received a lorazepam prescription for panic attacks, he or she may start to feel:
- The onset of a panic attack
- Increased anxiety
- Compulsion to take another dose
The second stage is “acute withdrawal.” During this time, the symptoms are severe and unpleasant. These symptoms may include:
- Cravings for more lorazepam
- Mood swings
- Heart palpitations
- Increased heart rate
- Panic attacks
The third stage is protracted withdrawal, or the psychological feelings associated with withdrawal once the acute stage is over. Post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) symptoms often entail:
- Inability to feel pleasure
- Sleep problems
- Difficulty concentrating
- Rebound symptoms from the individual’s original condition
While some people may not experience PAWS, the symptoms of withdrawal can persist for months or even years for others.
Recovery Is Possible
Like any other type of substance abuse, lorazepam dependency requires careful medical attention, counseling and various other possible therapy options to help a person struggling with addiction begin to heal.
Ativan detox may involve tapering the medication with gradually decreasing doses or simply managing the symptoms of acute withdrawal. Once the lorazepam is out of the patient’s bloodstream, treatment then moves to focus on managing the symptoms of withdrawal.
Lorazepam rehab is a complicated process, and Family First Intervention works closely with the loved ones and friends of people struggling with addiction to achieve positive results. We can help a struggling individual acknowledge the problem and seek treatment in a constructive and supportive environment.
We also understand how important the role of family is in substance abuse recovery, and our professional interventionists help everyone involved understand the most constructive ways to support each other and heal.
Seek Professional Care
Most people associate detox and rehab with “harder” drugs like heroin and cocaine, but the truth is that prescription medications like lorazepam can be just as dangerous.
If you or a loved one is struggling with Ativan addiction, reach out to Family First Intervention to start the recovery process. It’s crucial to find a substance abuse recovery center equipped for medically assisted detox and proper cessation of lorazepam use, so contact us for guidance in your search.