Ativan Abuse & Addiction Symptoms, Signs, Causes & Effects

Ativan addiction can rob you of your health, your dignity, and your hope for a better tomorrow. At Blue Ridge Mountain Recovery Center, you will reconnect with your best self, and begin to build the foundation for a more promising future.

What is Ativan Abuse

Learn More About Ativan Abuse

Ativan is the brand name for a short-to-intermediate acting, highly-potent prescription medication called lorazepam and is a sedative that’s most often used to treat anxiety and depressive disorders. Ativan, known on the street as “benzos,” “downers,” “tranks,” “roofies,” and “roches,” belongs to a class of drugs called benzodiazepines which act on the chemicals in the brain to reduce anxiety. Lorazepam is available in tablet form, but can be used as a skin patch, under-the-tongue tablet, or injectable form. Since Ativan is both highly addictive and habit forming, it is not intended for long-term use. It has been reported as one of the three most commonly abused benzos in the United States. Due to its highly addictive nature, Ativan use should be restricted to those to whom it’s prescribed.

Many individuals become addicted to Ativan because it creates a feeling of total relaxation, often called a “trance-like” state. Some individuals are prescribed Ativan to relax muscles, restless leg syndrome, alcohol withdrawal, and temporary memory impairment. When the effects of Ativan begin to wear off, it may cause the individual to become agitated, depressed, or even angry. In order to get rid of these unpleasant feelings an individual will take more Ativan, which can lead to an addiction.

Addiction to Ativan doesn’t happen after taking the drug once; it occurs when individuals use Ativan regularly over an extended period of time. Even individuals who use Ativan exactly as prescribed by their physician may become physically addicted to the benzo. In fact, many criminals report using Ativan on their victims as a date-rape drug or for robbery. A physical addiction is unpleasant, but a psychological addiction can have more far-reaching and all-encompassing effects.

If you’re facing an addiction to Ativan, you’re not alone. Many people have walked this road and come out the other side victorious and sober. Blue Ridge Mountain Recovery center knows how hard kicking the addiction to benzos can be and we’re here to guide you on your path to sobriety.


Statistics on Ativan Abuse

Ativan addiction has become a serious problem for many individuals. While exact statistics for Ativan addiction aren’t clear, in 2011 60,200 people entered into drug abuse treatment for an addiction to benzodiazepines. Between 1998 and 2008, benzodiazepines the number of benzodiazepine admissions nearly tripled.


Causes of Ativan Abuse & Addiction

Out of the benzodiazepines, Ativan has one of the highest risks for physical and psychological addiction. While the exact cause of an Ativan addiction is not known, some of the contributing factors may include:

Genetic: Individuals who have a first-degree relative, such as a parent, who have addiction problems are twice as likely to develop an addiction to Ativan.

Brain Chemistry: Ativan affects the central nervous system and activates the brains reward system. It is hypothesized that individuals who become addicted to Ativan lack a certain amount of brain chemicals necessary to produce natural feelings of pleasure.

Environmental: Sometimes certain environmental stressors can lead to an individual using substances as a way to cope with the unwanted emotions. When someone uses a substance to cope with life events they become dependent on it to get through daily life. Additionally, some people grew up in households where drug addiction was a part of daily routine. Through modeling the individual learned that substance use is an appropriate way to deal with problems.

Psychological: Ativan is used to manage the symptoms of many mental illnesses, including depression and anxiety. Many individuals seek out benzodiazepines to abuse without knowing that they have an underlying mental illness such as depression, bipolar disorder, or anxiety.

Co-Occurring Disorders

Co-Occurring Disorders and the Complexity of Ativan Addiction

Most addiction disorders such as addiction to Ativan have an underlying co-occurring mental health condition that has been untreated and undiagnosed for many years. These mental health conditions include:

  • Depressive disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Stimulant abuse
  • Poly-substance abuse
  • Panic disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder

Signs & Symptoms

Signs and Symptoms of Ativan Abuse

There are a variety of symptoms that may accompany Ativan abuse and addiction. The symptoms experienced depend upon the individual and the level of addiction. Some symptoms may include:

Mood symptoms:

  • Depression
  • Mental and mood changes
  • Thoughts of suicide

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Hyperactivity
  • Confusion
  • Memory problems
  • “Doctor shopping” or visiting a number of doctors to obtain more prescriptions for benzodiazepines
  • Forging prescriptions
  • Robbing pharmacies
  • Buying Ativan or other benzodiazepines from the street
  • Combining Ativan with other sedating drugs to enhance the effects
  • Withdrawing from activities once found enjoyable
  • Social isolation
  • Legal problems
  • Financial problems
  • Frequent trips to the emergency room to obtain larger quantities of Ativan  

Physical symptoms:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Muscle weakness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Skin rash
  • Changes in appetite
  • Heartburn
  • Slurred speech
  • Trouble walking
  • Fever, persistent sore throat
  • Trouble breathing

Psychological symptoms:

  • Anterograde amnesia
  • Hallucinations
  • Light-headedness
  • Paranoia
  • Psychosis


Effects of Ativan Addiction

The abuse of Ativan can cause a variety of negative effects, these may include:

  • Cognitive effects
  • Kidney failure
  • Extreme depression
  • Respiratory failure
  • Red eyes
  • Neglected work and family responsibilities
  • Legal troubles
  • Life begins to revolve around the drug


Withdrawal Symptoms of Ativan Addiction

Discontinuing the use of Ativan too quickly or without the supervision of trained medical personnel can result in unpleasant and possibly dangerous side effects.

If Ativan has been abused for a prolonged period of time, do not attempt to stop using this drug without medical supervision.

An individual who is addicted to Ativan is physically dependent on the drug and cannot function without it – sudden withdrawal can cause serious physical and psychological illness. Through a detoxification program an individual can quickly and safely as possible remove the substance from their body. Some of the possible side effects that can occur when discontinuing Ativan use include:

  • Vomiting
  • Insomnia
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tremors
  • Muscle cramps
  • Convulsions
  • Seizures
  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings
  • Intense rage

I deeply appreciate everything that ALL the staff do to foster a wonderful recovery community.

– Charlotte

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