Ativan, also known as lorazepam, is a type of benzodiazepine medication used to treat anxiety, panic attacks, seizures, insomnia and alcohol withdrawal. Though it has many legitimate medical uses, this powerful prescription drug can be habit-forming and in some cases lead to addiction. Unfortunately, Ativan addiction is becoming an increasingly common problem in the UK with many individuals turning to the drug to self-medicate or for recreational purposes.
If you have strayed down the path of addiction, the good news is that help is available. Recovery Lighthouse can help you break free from Ativan addiction and the devastating side effects that come along with it.
How does Ativan addiction begin?
There are a number of ways that Ativan addiction can begin – you may have been prescribed Ativan for a medical condition or you may have started using Ativan recreationally.
Prescription from a doctor…
Despite the many misconceptions that drug addiction only refers to illicit street drugs, you can, in fact, be handed addictive medications by your doctor. While these drugs are effective in treating certain conditions in the short-term, prolonged use can lead to addiction.
This is especially true if you take more Ativan than prescribed, if you take it more frequently than prescribed or if you use it for more than 4 weeks. It is therefore crucial to follow your doctor’s instructions carefully and speak to them if you are concerned about an Ativan addiction developing.
Ativan addiction can also occur through recreational use. This means you take Ativan with the intention of experiencing its pleasant side effects or getting ‘high’. It is common for other substances to be abused at the same as Ativan, making potentially dangerous cocktails of drugs and propelling you towards addiction.
Ativan is a powerful central nervous system depressant and its potent effects mean that addiction can develop quickly. No matter how your Ativan addiction has developed, there is no shame in getting the appropriate help if you feel like your Ativan use is spiralling out of control.
What makes Ativan so addictive?
Ativan is a short-acting benzodiazepine with a half-life of 10 to 20 hours. Its sedative and anxiolytic effects occur as a result of the drug’s interaction with neurotransmitters in the brain, notably gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). By increasing GABA activity in the brain, Ativan slows down signals in the central nervous system which in turn has a calming effect.
The slowing down of brain activity also inhibits neurons responsible for managing dopamine levels, causing a surge of this feel-good chemical. The excess dopamine stimulates the reward centre in the brain, meaning that you are likely to seek out the drug again.
As you continue to use Ativan, your brain’s natural balance of neurotransmitters is disrupted and you will begin to rely on the drug just to feel normal. As your dependence develops, Ativan addiction soon takes over and you will struggle to cope without using.
How do I know if I’m addicted to Ativan?
Ativan addiction is notoriously difficult to spot and can go unnoticed for months. As a prescribed medication, it can be easy to justify your Ativan use and brush any problems under the rug. However, it is important to recognise the signs of a potential addiction so that you can make informed decisions about your health and well-being.
Consider questions such as:
- Do I need more Ativan to feel the same effects?’
- Do I experience cravings for Ativan?
- Do I take Ativan even when I am not presenting symptoms for which it was prescribed?
- Do I think about Ativan often?
- Does consuming Ativan take precedence over other activities or commitments?
- Has Ativan caused problems with my work performance?
- Have I experienced issues with relationships because of Ativan?
- Do I need Ativan just to get through the day?
- Do I experience withdrawal symptoms when I stop taking Ativan?
If you can relate to any of these questions, you may be suffering from Ativan addiction and treatment may be required. While it can be difficult to admit you need help, taking those first steps and liberating yourself from Ativan addiction will give you a new sense of freedom.
Taking Ativan: the risks
Taking Ativan, whether it is recreationally or as prescribed, comes with numerous risks. You may experience problems not only with your physical health and well-being but also with your finances, career and relationships.
Ativan has the potential to cause serious health issues, both in the long and short term.
Some of the short-term side effects of Ativan include:
- Impaired judgement
- Loss of coordination
- Memory loss
- Slurred speech
- Shallow breathing
Long-term side effects of Ativan can include:
- Damage to internal organs, including the kidney and liver
- Issues with sleep
- Increased risk of mental health problems
- Increased risk of dementia
The danger of overdose is also present when taking Ativan and warning signs include extreme sedation, dangerously slow breathing and heart rate, anxiety or panic and uncontrolled eye movements. If you suspect a loved one has overdosed, call the emergency services immediately.
Mixing Ativan with other substances (otherwise known as ‘polydrug use’) can lead to fatal outcomes. As Ativan is a central nervous depressant, taking it with other depressants, such as alcohol, can essentially shut down vital bodily functions.
Similarly, taking Ativan alongside stimulants like cocaine or ecstasy can also have devastating consequences. The two opposing substances put an immense strain on your body as it battles the conflicting effects, possibly causing cardiac arrest and heart failure.
The effects of Ativan addiction do not just impact your health. You may also experience financial difficulties as you grapple with constantly having to purchase pills and fund your habit.
As well as depleting your funds, your performance at work could also suffer. You may find yourself constantly late, missing shifts or being unable to concentrate as a result of your Ativan addiction, and this could lead to job loss.
Ativan addiction truly does impact every aspect of your life and this includes your relationships with friends and family. You may become withdrawn and isolated, miss out on social events and suffer from mood swings. This can all have a huge effect on your connection with others, cause tension and even break relationships completely.
Coping with a loved one’s Ativan addiction
Dealing with a family member’s Ativan addiction can be both a distressing and confusing time. However, knowing where to turn and what steps to take in supporting your loved one can help make the situation more manageable.
Firstly, you should find out what resources are available and educate yourself on Ativan addiction and treatment so that you are better equipped to help your loved one through this difficult time.
It’s also important to establish yourself as a reliable source of support and kindness, as well as limit exposure to triggers such as certain places, people or activities that could increase cravings for the drug.
Lastly, taking care of yourself throughout the entire process is key; make sure that you are engaging in healthy habits such as getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, eating nutritious meals and taking time for self-care. Remember that loving someone through Ativan addiction is an act of selfless service but by ensuring your own well-being first and foremost, you will be better equipped to provide meaningful aid to your family member.
Can I overcome Ativan addiction?
Recovery Lighthouse offers a comprehensive inpatient treatment programme that has helped hundreds of individuals overcome their addictions. Our team has extensive experience dealing with benzodiazepine addictions, including Ativan addiction, and understands the complexities surrounding the condition.
Our treatment plan focuses on both the physical and psychological aspects of your Ativan addiction. You will first undergo a detox period where your body expels toxins from your system. During this time, you may experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, but our team will help to safely taper you off Ativan and keep you comfortable throughout.
Recovery Lighthouse also offers a wide range of therapies, including individual and group counselling sessions, as well as supportive therapies like art and sound therapy. With therapy, you will pinpoint your triggers, learn new coping skills and develop healthier habits to take forward into everyday life.
Aftercare is another crucial part of recovery and provides essential support and accountability once you leave rehab. Recovery Lighthouse offers 1 year of free aftercare to all of our clients, so you may continue to benefit from group work and therapy.
Freedom from Ativan
Overcoming Ativan addiction can feel like a daunting task. However, the decision to quit and break free from addiction could be one of the wisest decisions you’ll ever make. With hard work and perseverance, a life without Ativan can bring an abundance of benefits to both your mental and physical well-being. Without the burden of addiction, you have more time to focus on yourself by engaging in activities that bring joy. Ativan-free living can bring greater clarity into your thoughts and feelings, enable you to develop meaningful relationships, and help you to pursue more rewarding things in life.
If you are ready to start your recovery, get in touch with our admissions team. We are always happy to answer any questions you may have and are dedicated to helping you reach your goals.