Ativan Addiction & Abuse

by on May 7, 2012

Ativan is an anti-anxiety medication that belongs to the benzodiazepine class of medications. It is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant that slows down brain activity. Some patients find the physical and psychological effects of this medication desirable hence increasing the risk of the drug to be abused. These patients feel that they cannot function well if they do not take this medication. It is often characterized by craving to the medication.

Ativan addiction and abuse is a serious problem that requires immediate medical attention. A person addicted to this drug may experience severe side effects and withdrawal symptoms when the medication is discontinued.

Addiction is more likely to happen if the drug is taken daily for a longer duration or at higher doses. People with history of substance abuse are at increased risk of being addicted to Ativan.

Signs and Symptoms of Ativan Addiction

As mentioned above, patients who are addicted to Ativan may exhibit undesirable side effects if the medicine is discontinued. These patients are also at increased risk of experiencing withdrawal symptoms that include:

  • Headaches and dizziness
  • Tension and increased sweating
  • Restlessness or irritability
  • Increased sensitivity to environment such as light and sound
  • Stomach symptoms Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Rapid heart rate and heart palpitations
  • Changes in mood and personality including anxiety, depression and panic attacks
  • Impaired thinking such as confusion, memory loss, and hallucinations
  • Difficulty sleeping or insomnia
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Seizures
  • Fever

Usually patients addicted to Ativan feel that they have to continue taking this drug just to control these undesirable symptoms. In some patients, there is a feeling of the need to increase their usual dose of Ativan (drug tolerance) to achieve its desired effects.

Others feel that they cannot stop the medication or that they have unusual cravings for the medication. These patients are at an increased risk of experiencing serious side effects, withdrawal symptoms and drug overdose therefore require immediate treatment.

Preventing Addiction

Although Ativan offers a wide range of benefits, it also has an increased potential for abuse. One of the most important things that you can do to prevent addiction is to take this drug exactly as prescribed your healthcare provider. Do not increase your Ativan dose and do not take it for longer than prescribed.

During the first few days of taking Ativan, you can expect loss of coordination and sleepiness, but as the body becomes adjusted to the physical effects of this drug, these symptoms eventually disappear. When used for a prolonged period of time, the body can develop tolerance for this drug, requiring larger doses to achieve the same effects. If not addressed early on, this can lead to physical dependence – and possibly withdrawal if suddenly stopped.

It is recommended that Ativan be used only as a short-term treatment for anxiety. If taken for more than two week, patient must be closely monitored for signs of drug dependence, tolerance or addiction. In case you feel being dependent on this drug or suspect someone to be addicted to Ativan, do not delay seeking medical attention.