What Is Ativan? Is Ativan Addictive?
Ativan is a brand of benzodiazepines, which works by triggering a sedating effect on users. It is frequently prescribed for the treatment of anxiety and panic disorders and, in some cases, insomnia.
Even when used as directed, users develop a physical dependence on the drug. That’s because the brain becomes used to the substance in order to function properly. Benzodiazepines are meant to correct an imbalance that generates symptoms of mental disorders. But this dependence alone should not be a problem. Patients usually wean down their doses with medical supervision during treatment.
The main issue is when the patient cannot bring themselves to get off Ativan. This might happen when physical dependence is coupled with psychological dependence. In this case, a more intensive detox and Ativan addiction treatment plan are needed. It’s not enough to just address the physical dependence – the psychological dependence of the medication must be addressed to avoid relapse.
Ativan Addiction Signs
As mentioned, users develop a physical dependence on Ativan, and that is expected. Any medication that is taken regularly for a long period of time can cause it. Again, physical dependence is not the same as addiction. Addiction means engaging in compulsive behavior.
Everyone experiences Ativan abuse differently, and Ativan addiction signs may vary. In general, the following behaviors can indicate abuse of the drug:
- Using a higher dose than prescribed by the doctor
- Using Ativan without a prescription
- Taking Ativan in a way not recommended (snorting, injecting, etc.)
- Purposefully taking Ativan with alcohol, marijuana, or other drugs to enhance its effect
- Lying to others about being under the influence of Ativan, the amount taken, or refills needed
- Avoiding situations in which it would be difficult to get or stay high on Ativan
- Actively seeking out pills that have a similar effect to Ativan (other benzodiazepines), by either purchasing them illegally or attempting to get prescriptions from multiple doctors
- Getting into financial or legal problems due to Ativan use
- Finding it impossible to lower the dose and/or stop using the drug altogether
If you or someone in your family have a history of substance abuse, tell your doctor before taking Ativan. They may recommend another medication or form of treatment.
Self-Assessment: Am I Addicted?
How Do I Stop Taking Lorazepam Safely?
Because benzodiazepines cause dependence, it can be dangerous to abruptly stop taking it.
It is recommended that you undergo a slow and measured taper to avoid strong side effects. The dose of Ativan will be lowered gradually, giving your body time to adjust to functioning without it. Some doctors also recommend substituting it by another benzo before weaning down, which is a safe option.
This detox, however, might be hard to go through without medical support. Medically-assisted detox will provide the patient with 24/7 medical support and supervision. A team can manage any medical complications that might develop during Ativan withdrawal and administer any medication necessary. They will also help the patient not fall into old habits as they are monitored around the clock.
The biggest pro to medically-assisted detox is pain management. The detox process will trigger Ativan addiction withdrawal symptoms. This means physical and psychological effects that the patient will experience.
Ativan Addiction Withdrawal Symptoms
Ativan is addictive and psychoactive, and as such, it affects the brain and the nervous system. Once the body is addicted to it, it needs it to even function properly. This means that cutting the supply will throw the body into disarray. As the body works to achieve that balance again, many Ativan side effects can be experienced.
The symptoms will usually have two stages: an acute stage and a prolonged one. The first might last around 3-4 days, while the latter could take 10-14 days to end. As long as Ativan use is not immediately putting your life in danger, detox is often a slow process.
Some physical Ativan side effects and withdrawal symptoms triggered in this process may be:
- Nausea, vomiting, and/or stomach cramps
- Increased blood pressure and/or heart rate
- Confusion and/or trouble concentrating
- Increased anxiety or panic, especially if Ativan was taken to manage these symptoms
- In severe cases, seizures
In serious medical emergencies, seizures, heart attacks, or strokes may occur if there are underlying medical issues. For this reason, medical supervision is always recommended for any benzodiazepine detox.
Dual Diagnosis and Comorbid Disorders
Most people begin taking Ativan to address a disorder or a neurological symptom. Most commonly, it is used to treat anxiety. As a sedative, the drug can help lessen physical and mental symptoms associated with panic and anxiety. But once clean from the drug, some of these symptoms might start over during Ativan addiction withdrawal.
Mental disorders can often set off physical symptoms and chronic disorders. It is not uncommon for someone living with anxiety to experience chronic pain, fibromyalgia, and other illnesses. In some cases, the mental disorder is caused or exacerbated by the difficulties of living with a chronic disease. These can all affect treatment and aftercare for Ativan addiction. Treating them simultaneously during and after Ativan addiction withdrawal is important to avoid further complications.
Ativan side effects can also trigger medical and mental issues. Ativan can cause depression, for instance. So, in addition to addressing pre-existing conditions, it is important to also get treatment for co-occurring medical disorders. This means any other mental disorders besides addiction, like anxiety itself or others. Physical therapy, non-addictive medications, and lifestyle changes can all help lessen physical symptoms.
What Happens After I Finish Detox?
Detox is an important first step in recovery from Ativan addiction withdrawal, but it is not a complete treatment by itself. You will need substance abuse treatment once detox is done to address the psychiatric aspects of Ativan addiction. Without addressing the underlying addiction issue, there’s a greater chance of relapse.
Detoxing will help you have the mental and physical energy to do the therapeutic work of Ativan treatment. At this point, patients learn about the changes they’ll need to make in order to build a strong new life in recovery. Many factors will come into play when deciding what Ativan treatment plan is best for a patient.
After detox, Ativan treatment for addiction often focuses heavily on how to manage symptoms of anxiety. Those symptoms might feel more disruptive after detox. Therefore, patients will get to learn about relapse prevention. This may include the use of non-addictive medication, lifestyle changes, and healthy coping mechanisms.
Your experience with addiction, family history, and medical and mental health disorders should be discussed before Ativan treatment. You are encouraged to talk about your past attempts at recovery as well, especially in case of relapse. Describing the treatments that have worked for you and the therapies that you are interested in can help. Your goals for your Ativan treatment experience as well as for life after it are also important.
Most treatment plans will include traditional therapies like individual and group therapy sessions and/or 12-step meetings. These are all vital pillars for Ativan treatment and relapse prevention. However, alternative therapies and holistic treatment options can make your Ativan treatment plan become more intensive. They can help you find creative and experiential ways of overcoming past trauma, addressing the emotional and mental aspects of it.
Some alternative therapies that may be of value include:
- Cultural-specific therapies
- Skills training
- Expressive therapies, like music therapy or art therapy
- Mindfulness-based therapies
- Movement-based therapies, like dance therapy or sports therapies
- Holistic treatments like acupuncture, acupressure, yoga, and tai chi
The goal is to choose the ones that will have a positive impact on every area of your life that could make recovery harder. These are oftentimes optional but have been proven effective in improving general well-being and one’s emotional state.
Addiction is a lifelong battle. This means that active attention to recovery is needed after detox. Learning how to live without Ativan means living without any addictive substance. It can take time to develop a lifestyle that truly supports ongoing sobriety. You will also need a stable living environment, as free from triggers as possible.
Connecting with a community of peers in recovery can help you feel less isolated, less alone. It can also give you continual insight into staying sober and keeping to healthy coping mechanisms. Knowing that you have people to call, meetings to attend regularly, and places to go is important to make you feel purposeful. Having a support system at this point is important, though it might take some restructuring of your social circle.
After the substance abuse program, you should have an Ativan treatment plan as you transition back home. As with all aspects of recovery, your treatment plan after Ativan addiction withdrawal treatment should be uniquely designed to suit your needs, and may include:
- Referrals for local therapists or a case manager to meet with regularly
- Dates and times of local group meetings and support groups
- Therapies that were effective for you during drug rehab
- Some outpatient options if transitioning from a partial hospitalization program or intensive outpatient program
- Aftercare support or alumni groups that meet after the completion of treatment
If this all sounds like what you or a loved one need, contact us today. Our team will answer all of your questions and provide any information you might need to make the best decision.
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