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Ativan Withdrawal & Detox

Ativan is a brand formulation of lorazepam, a medication that belongs to a class of drugs called benzodiazepines.1 Benzodiazepines are drugs that depress the central nervous system (CNS), which can be helpful in managing conditions such as anxiety disorders.1Ativan is sometimes used as a supplement anesthesia for pre-procedural or surgical sedation, as well as to manage certain kinds of seizures, including seizures associated with alcohol withdrawal.2

While they have a number of therapeutic uses when prescribed, benzodiazepines also carry a potential for abuse and dependence, particularly in individuals who misuse other substances.1 Ativan is a Schedule IV controlled substance. Though it may be prescribed for medical use, it is also widely diverted for non-medical misuse.1,3 Misuse increases the risk of developing physiological dependence on Ativan, at which point individuals may experience withdrawal symptoms when attempting to cut back on or altogether quit Ativan use.2

This article will discuss the symptoms of Ativan withdrawal, including how long it lasts, what to expect during and after detox, and how to find Ativan addiction treatment.

What Happens During Ativan Withdrawal?

Even when Ativan is used as prescribed, some degree of physical dependence may develop in as little as two weeks.2 Dependence develops as a result of our bodies adapting to lorazepam over time. A person can essentially become so used the drug’s presence that, should they reduce their usage or stop completely, withdrawal symptoms begin.4

The Ativan withdrawal syndrome includes several characteristic symptoms, including anxiety, dysphoria, tremors, and even seizures.1 The dose and duration of Ativan use can affect withdrawal symptom severity.1 Unpleasant withdrawal symptoms are one of the reasons many people find it hard to stop using Ativan.4

Ativan Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal from lorazepam can include various unpleasant physical and mental symptoms, but the specifics may be different for everyone. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and depend on various factors. Although withdrawal is different for everyone, lorazepam withdrawal symptoms may include:1,2

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Dysphoria
  • Irritability
  • Changes in blood pressure
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Tremors
  • Seizures

Benzodiazepine withdrawal can be unpleasant to experience. In more severe cases, it can be dangerous if left untreated. If you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms of Ativan withdrawal, always consult a medical professional to determine appropriate next steps to keep yourself safe and healthy.

Ativan Withdrawal Timeline

Withdrawal from benzodiazepines can last between 1-4 weeks when use abruptly ends or, in instances of therapeutic use, take 3-5 weeks when reducing the dose gradually over time under the guidance of a doctor.5

Some symptoms may emerge after the more usual acute Ativan withdrawal period as part of a phenomenon known as protracted withdrawal.5 Protracted withdrawal from Ativan may include symptoms of fluctuating severity that can resemble those associated with conditions such as generalized anxiety, agitated depression, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or schizophrenia.5 Should they emerge beyond the acute withdrawal period, these fluctuating protracted withdrawal symptoms can persist for months, but will gradually resolve with continued abstinence.5

Factors that Impact Lorazepam Withdrawal

The course that benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms take can be difficult to predict. Various factors can influence your Ativan withdrawal symptoms, their intensity, and how long they will last. Any person who has taken a benzodiazepine, such as Ativan, for more than 3-4 weeks is at risk of experiencing withdrawal symptoms.6 Some people may be more likely to experience intense withdrawal symptoms than others.

Some factors that can impact Ativan withdrawal include:

  • The dose of Ativan you last took.1 Having been consistently taking a larger dose of Ativan may lead to a more prolonged withdrawal period or more severe symptoms.
  • How long you have been using Ativan overall.1 Using Ativan long-term may result in a longer withdrawal.
  • Whether or not you have used other drugs at the same time as Ativan, such as opioids.2 Polysubstance abuse may lead to a more complicated or severe withdrawal syndrome and can be additionally dangerous.
  • Whether you have reduced the dose of Ativan you are taking but are still taking a smaller amount.2 Stopping Ativan cold turkey may result in relatively rapid onset of acute withdrawal symptoms. Doing so without medical management can be unnecessarily uncomfortable and potentially dangerous. Always talk to a healthcare provider before discontinuing use.

Because of the risks, a supervised Ativan detox program may be recommended, as outpatient detox is recommended only for individuals who take benzodiazepine doses as prescribed; do not have polysubstance dependence; and have a stable, supportive environment at home where they can be monitored.7 Your healthcare provider will assess the risk factors mentioned above and protective factors like your support system, readiness for change, and housing stability.6 Depending on this assessment, an Ativan detox program may help you to safely go through the withdrawal process at the start of your recovery efforts.

Ativan Detox Programs

Professional Ativan detox programs vary in their approach based on your needs, strengths, and risk factors. If you are at lower risk of complications, your healthcare provider may prescribe medications to manage withdrawal and/or monitor your withdrawal progress in an outpatient setting.6,7 Higher-risk patients may need to be stabilized in a hospital setting to prevent medical complications, then stepped down to a residential therapy setting after completing detox.6,7

Medications used to manage withdrawal during a medical detox may include relatively longer-acting benzodiazepine substitutions for Ativan.6,7 Regardless of whether medication is utilized, the main goal of professional Ativan detox programs is to monitor your symptoms and help you to withdraw safely.6

What to Do After Detoxing from Ativan

For many people, detox may be only the first step of treatment after withdrawing from Ativan. This can include people with co-occurring disorders, who may benefit from a combination of therapeutic techniques including psychotherapy to understand the overlap between their substance use and mental health conditions.3,7 After detox and successful withdrawal management, continuing forward with additional, more comprehensive treatment programming can help people as they work toward long-term recovery.

While currently there are no medications specifically approved to manage sedative use disorders,  behavioral therapy can help individuals understand the triggers that lead them to using.7 This can include approaches like cognitive behavioral therapy or motivational interviewing.5,6 It may also include participation in peer support groups such as Narcotics Anonymous.5 Regardless of the approach, professional detox programs can help you detox from Ativan and begin your work toward long-term sobriety.

If you are unsure about where to start when it comes to looking for treatment, contact one of our admission navigators and they can assist you in finding the right program for you. You can also look at some of the facilities listed below to see if they provide what you are looking for:

If you or a loved one are struggling with Ativan misuse, We are available 24/7.

Find Out if Your Insurance Plan Covers Ativan Addiction Detox

American Addiction Centers can help people detox from Ativan misuse and substance use disorders (SUDs). To find out if your insurance covers treatment at an American Addiction Centers facility, click here, or fill out the form below. Your information is kept 100% confidential. You can also click here to find a rehab near me.

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