Ativan Use Side Effects
Ativan, also known by the generic name lorazepam, is a short-acting prescription benzodiazepine medication that is FDA-approved for the short-term relief of anxiety, anxiety-associated insomnia, and anxiety prior to anesthesia; it may also be used off-label for other purposes.1,2 If you or someone you care about use lorazepam, you should know that it, like other benzodiazepines, has the potential for misuse and may result in dependence or, in some cases, addiction.3
This article will help you understand Ativan side effects, including adverse effects of Ativan, and help you learn more about seeking help if you are concerned about Ativan misuse.
Ativan Side Effects
All prescription drugs can have the potential to cause side effects. Even if used as prescribed, people can experience Ativan side effects. These effects can vary from person to person and can range from mild to severe.3
Some of the most common Ativan side effects include:3,4
Some factors that might increase the risk and severity of side effects lorazepam can include misuse of the drug, using high doses of Ativan, and combining Ativan with other substances such as other sedatives, opioids, and alcohol.1,4
The risk of experiencing more profound sedation and unsteadiness increases with age. There is a potential for more serious adverse reactions in people with pre-existing liver or kidney disease.4
It’s possible for people to develop dependence in as little as 1 week of daily use.3 Use beyond two to four weeks is discouraged, and the risk of dependence increases with higher doses and longer-term use. Ativan dependence is characterized by withdrawal symptoms which are outlined in the next section.
Other side effects are possible. If you use Ativan and experience what you believe are side effects of Ativan, it’s a good idea to check in with your doctor.3,4
Overdose from Ativan, without the presence of other drugs or alcohol, typically results in significant central nervous system depression and oversedation which may range from mild to moderate drowsiness to a coma-like, stuporous state. It’s rarely life-threatening, and oversedation can be reversed by a prescription drug called flumazenil.12
Mixing Ativan with opioids, alcohol or other sedatives can lead to substantial and even life-threatening respiratory depression, slowing and even stopping breathing.4
If you suspect overdose, it’s important to seek immediate medical attention.4
Find Out If Your Insurance Plan Covers Ativan Addiction Treatment
American Addiction Centers can help people recover from Ativan misuse and substance use disorders (SUDs). To find out if your insurance covers treatment at an American Addiction Centers facility, fill out the form below. Your information is kept 100% confidential. You can also click here to find a rehab near me.
Ativan Dependence and Withdrawal Symptoms
Ativan is generally only recommended for short-term use (generally 2-4 weeks) and not for longer periods of time.1,3,4 Longer-term use and higher doses increases the likelihood a person will develop a dependence.4 The risk of dependence is further increased in people with a history of substance use disorders or personality disorders.4
Someone with Lorazepam dependence will experience withdrawal symptoms after they have stopped using the medication or significantly reduce their dose.3 Severe withdrawal symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions, convulsions, or seizures may be dangerous and even life-threatening.4
Other withdrawal symptoms may include:4
- Numbness/tingling of extremities.
- Increased heart rate.
- Panic attacks.
- Short-term memory loss.
It’s important to note that dependence is not the same thing as addiction. Dependence is an expected neurological adaptation. Addiction is a treatable, chronic medical disease characterized by the compulsive use of substances despite harmful consequences, such as:8,9
- Relationship and family problems.
- Financial issues.
- Legal trouble.
- Poor psychological functioning.
Ativan, Addiction, and Polysubstance Use
Benzodiazepine misuse most commonly occurs in conjunction with other drugs. In fact, benzodiazepines are typically secondary drugs of misuse for most, and a much smaller number of people report benzodiazepines such as Ativan as the primary drug of misuse. The most frequent primary drugs of misuse in those who misuse benzos include opioids (54.2%) and alcohol (24.7%). Approximately 1 in 5 individuals misusing alcohol also misuse benzodiazepines. Mixing Ativan with opioids, or sedatives like alcohol, zolpidem (Ambien), or other benzodiazepines can increase the risk of overdose, which can result in life-threatening respiratory depression, brain damage, and death.1,10
Misuse of Ativan can be dangerous or even deadly, especially if you also use illicit drugs like heroin or misuse alcohol or other medications.7 Seeking help for Ativan misuse or addiction and quitting the use of Ativan and other substances can help keep you safe.
Ativan addiction treatment programs can involve different components, such as:13,14
- Detox, which might be the first step in the recovery process. It can help you safely and comfortably undergo withdrawal and help you become medically stable. Detox can also prepare you for further treatment.
- Inpatient or outpatient rehab. The right program for you can depend on your unique needs. Outpatient rehab is usually well-suited for people who have stable home environments, supportive family and friends, and access to transportation, while inpatient rehab can be beneficial for people who require a higher level of support and care, such as those with co-occurring mental health conditions.
- Behavioral therapy, such as motivational interviewing or cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). These techniques can help address underlying issues, teach you improved social and coping skills, and provide psychoeducation about addiction and relapse.