Ativan® – Lorazepam Treatment

Ativan® is the trade name for a generic drug called Lorazepam, which is used to treat anxiety and depression. This drug is in the family of drugs called benzodiazepines, which alter brain chemistry to produce feelings of calmness and well-being. Because they treat emotional pain, benzodiazepines are habit-forming and can cause people to have suicidal thoughts when they stop taking them.

Ativan® is usually prescribed only for short-term use. No one is sure if Ativan® keeps relieving symptoms for longer than six weeks.

Ativan® is a widely abused drug because it is very habit-forming. When people try to stop using it, their symptoms of anxiety and depression “rebound;” that is, their anxiety worsens. Because of this, they will often try to keep taking Ativan® to avoid feeling anxious and depressed.

It is best to withdraw from Ativan® or any other benzodiazepine under medical supervision. You can experience seizures and other severe problems if you withdraw too quickly. Some people have actually died after they suddenly stopped taking benzodiazepines. 

Your symptoms will depend upon how long you have been using Lorazepam and at what levels. They will also depend on your current health, age, weight, sex, medical history, use of other drugs, and so forth. Your symptoms may be only mild depression and sleeplessness. However, some people go into a major withdrawal syndrome that includes flu symptoms like vomiting, sweating, convulsions, tremors, and abdominal and muscle cramps, and dangerous problems such as delirium, visual and auditory hallucinations, and lowered blood pressure. These symptoms begin between 12 and 24 hours after your last dosage of Ativan® and are worst between hours 24 and 72.  Some clinics help you through this period by using medications or by gradually decreasing your levels of Lorazepam.

Once all traces of Lorazepam are removed from your body, you may “rebound,” or experience deep anxiety and panic at higher levels than before you took the drug.  Again, depending on the level of your involvement with Lorazepam, you may want to remain in a residential center for a few months or weeks to get help with any anxiety and depression that may surface.

When you call, you can discuss your treatment options with a trained counselor.  Depending on your budget, lifestyle, and level of drug use, you can choose a residential or outpatient center for your treatment. Residential treatment is more intense, in that you live with others undergoing treatment along with full-time counselors. You participate in group and individual counseling, and may attend classes in nutrition and relaxation techniques. Usually, your family members will become involved in counseling, too, often by telephone.  Most centers offer both indoor and outdoor sports, yoga, art, music, drama, and other activities that teach you how to relieve stress and anxiety in healthy ways. You also learn to deal with situations and people that may “trigger” a relapse into using drugs.

Once you return home, you usually will attend support meetings in your community, such as Narc-Anon. You continue with individual and family counseling on an outpatient basis.

The National Institute of Health has done research that indicates people who spend at least a year in active treatment have better outcomes and are more likely to become permanently drug-free. Give yourself time.

If you are the custodial parent of a child who is abusing benzodiazepines, you have the right to place your child into a drug treatment center. Even teenagers who go through drug rehabilitation unwillingly can achieve excellent outcomes. 

Please call now and discuss your situation with a counselor. All of our counselors are professional, informed, and non-judgmental – and some have been through the same problems you are now experiencing.