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Ativan Addiction: Signs, Symptoms and Treatment

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Ativan Addiction Treatment in Chattanooga, TN
Picture of Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Mohsin Ali, MD

Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Mohsin Ali, MD

Dr. Mohsin Ali MD is board certified in Psychiatry and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Trained in Syracuse NY, he has worked in Tennessee for the last sixteen years.

Table of Contents

Ativan, known generically as lorazepam, is a benzodiazepine widely prescribed for managing anxiety disorders, seizures, and as a sedative before medical procedures. Despite its medical benefits, Ativan is classified as a Schedule IV controlled substance due to its potential for addiction and dependence. It’s crucial to be aware of the signs and symptoms of Ativan addiction to help someone you care about.

What is Ativan?

Ativan (lorazepam) serves multiple therapeutic purposes. It is primarily prescribed for anxiety relief and is also used in the treatment of panic disorders and seizures. Additionally, it has applications in inducing sedation for medical procedures, muscle relaxation, and alleviating symptoms during alcohol and drug withdrawal.

Is Ativan Addictive?

Yes, Ativan has a considerable potential for addiction. Its misuse is a well-documented issue, with millions reported to misuse benzodiazepines like lorazepam. Recognizing the severe risks associated with these medications, the FDA has placed a boxed warning on Ativan to highlight the dangers of misuse, physical dependence, and addiction.

Addiction to lorazepam can develop even under prescribed use. It is defined by a pattern of compulsive usage despite adverse consequences, including deteriorating health and failure to meet responsibilities at work, school, or home. The risk is higher among those who misuse the drug, leading to significant physical and psychological dependence.

What is Ativan Addiction?

Ativan is a potent benzodiazepine known to carry a significant risk of addiction, often slang-referred to as “goofballs,” “heavenly blues,” or “stupefy.” The risk of becoming physically and psychologically dependent on Ativan increases with prolonged use. Those with a history of substance abuse or unresolved mental health issues are especially susceptible to developing an addiction.

Signs of Ativan addiction include persistent cravings and the inability to cease use despite its detrimental effects on one’s life, such as:

  • Strained relationships with family and friends
  • Neglect of responsibilities at work or school
  • Engaging in dangerous behaviors
  • Losing interest in activities once enjoyed
  • Social isolation
  • Experiencing financial troubles

As tolerance to the effects of Ativan builds, individuals may require increasingly larger doses to achieve the same effect, which can further entrench dependency. Recognizing the need to quit but being hampered by withdrawal symptoms is common, and overcoming addiction usually necessitates comprehensive treatment including rehab, therapeutic support, and medically supervised detox.

Signs and Symptoms of Ativan Addiction

Ativan, particularly when abused in high doses, can lead to significant signs of misuse that are often observable.

Recognizable signs of Ativan misuse may include:

  • Profound sedation
  • Dizziness and lightheadedness
  • General physical weakness
  • Loss of balance or unsteadiness

Ativan addiction is commonly marked by withdrawal symptoms such as nausea and anxiety when a dose is missed or insufficient. Over time, this can lead to an increased tolerance where users require larger doses to achieve the desired effect, signaling physical dependence. Psychological dependence manifests as intense cravings that interfere with daily life and relationships.

Behavioral Symptoms of Ativan Abuse

Behavioral changes are among the primary indicators of Ativan addiction. Affected individuals may exhibit behaviors such as:

  • Withdrawing from social activities and preferring isolation
  • Engaging in deceitful behaviors, including theft, to support their drug use
  • Using Ativan more frequently or in larger amounts than prescribed
  • Developing an obsession with obtaining and using Ativan, which may include going to extreme lengths to obtain it
  • Hiding drug use from family and friends
  • Losing interest in hobbies and activities once enjoyed
  • Neglecting responsibilities at work, school, or home
  • Visiting multiple doctors to obtain overlapping prescriptions, commonly referred to as doctor shopping
  • Experiencing legal problems, often related to drug procurement
  • Borrowing money frequently and in unusual amounts or patterns

These behaviors often signal that Ativan use has escalated into a serious addiction that requires professional intervention and treatment.

Signs and Symptoms of Ativan Addiction

How Ativan Addiction Develops

Ativan addiction typically starts from a prescription meant to manage legitimate medical issues but can escalate to full dependence through several stages:

  • Prolonged Use: What often begins as a prescribed medication can develop into a dependency as tolerance builds, prompting an increase in dosage.
  • Psychological Dependence: Over time, users may feel incapable of functioning normally without Ativan, indicating a psychological reliance.
  • Escapism: Users may increasingly turn to Ativan to escape from personal or emotional stress, laying the groundwork for addiction.

Understanding this progression is essential for recognizing the signs of Ativan addiction early and intervening appropriately.

Effects of Ativan on the Brain and Body

Ativan acts by altering the central nervous system, influencing brain chemistry, which heightens the risk of addiction and long-term mental health problems. Extended use or misuse can result in dependence, increased tolerance, and withdrawal symptoms if the medication is stopped abruptly. Therefore, Ativan should be used strictly according to medical advice, and discontinuation should only occur under professional supervision to avoid severe consequences.

Dangers of Ativan Abuse

The use of Ativan carries a notable risk of addiction and should be managed under strict medical guidance. Generally prescribed for short-term use, Ativan’s risk escalates with physical and psychological dependency when used long-term or combined with other depressants like alcohol or opioids.

Severe side effects from Ativan abuse can include:

  • Respiratory depression
  • Extreme sedation
  • Seizures and tremors
  • Memory impairments
  • Loss of consciousness

Extended use of Ativan could lead to lasting changes in brain function, with some studies suggesting that long-term benzodiazepine use may result in cognitive deficits. While some individuals may recover brain function after stopping benzodiazepines, complete cognitive recovery is not assured for all users.

Identifying a Lorazepam Addiction

Recognizing addiction to Ativan, a commonly prescribed benzodiazepine known for its potential for misuse, is essential whether it’s obtained legally or otherwise. Misuse might occur discreetly, making it hard to detect initially.

Physical dependency on Ativan can quickly develop, even for those adhering to their prescribed dose. Warning signs include withdrawal symptoms like nausea and anxiety, signaling the body’s adaptation to the drug. An increase in tolerance, where more of the drug is needed to achieve the same effect, is another telltale sign.

Psychological dependency is characterized by intense cravings, persisting during and after usage. A clear indicator of addiction is the continuation of Ativan use despite negative effects on relationships and professional life.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) provides criteria for diagnosing substance use disorders, including Ativan addiction. It lists 11 criteria that help determine the severity of addiction, from mild to severe. Suspected cases of Ativan addiction should be professionally evaluated for accurate diagnosis and treatment. If you suspect an addiction issue, contact us at 423-541-0656 or through our online form to start your Ativan addiction treatment Chattanooga, TN today.

Risk Factors for Ativan Addiction

Ativan addiction does not discriminate, affecting individuals across all demographics.

Nonetheless, certain risk factors can heighten the likelihood of developing an addiction:

  • Early Recreational Drug Use: Those who begin using drugs recreationally at a young age are at increased risk.
  • Family History: Genetic factors can predispose individuals to substance abuse and mental health issues.
  • Existing Mental Health Conditions: People with mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, or eating disorders may be more susceptible to addiction.
  • Traumatic Experiences: Experiencing trauma, including violence, sexual abuse, or significant loss, also elevates addiction risk.

Awareness of these risk factors is crucial for effective prevention and treatment strategies, enabling a better understanding of addiction’s underlying causes and fostering more successful outcomes.

Risks of Mixing Ativan with Other Substances

Ativan can be especially dangerous when mixed with other substances, heightening the risk of severe side effects and overdose.

Commonly combined substances include:

  • Cocaine: Users may combine Ativan with cocaine to counteract the harsh effects of the cocaine crash, smoothing the transition from high to normal.
  • Amphetamines: Ativan is also used to diminish the stimulating effects of amphetamines, creating a more balanced feeling.
  • Methadone: This combination is particularly risky because both substances are central nervous system (CNS) depressants, which can significantly increase the risk of respiratory depression and fatal overdose.
  • Alcohol: When mixed with alcohol, Ativan can lead to profound sedation, enhanced CNS depression, and dangerous outcomes like respiratory failure or even death.

Using Ativan with these or any other drugs can dramatically increase the risk of life-threatening complications, including overdose. Symptoms of such dangerous combinations can lead to extreme sedation, loss of consciousness, coma, or fatal outcomes.

Ativan Withdrawal

Individuals prescribed Ativan who attempt to reduce their intake may encounter withdrawal symptoms, which can vary in severity depending on the level of misuse and the dosage.

Ativan Withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • Anxiety and insomnia, as the body readjusts to functioning without the drug.
  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, fever, and sweating, symptomatic of autonomic nervous system hyperactivity.
  • Psychomotor agitation.
  • Delirium and hallucinations.
  • Seizures, which can be life-threatening if not properly managed.

The journey to overcome Ativan dependence typically involves a carefully managed tapering process to minimize withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Abrupt cessation, or quitting “cold turkey,” can be dangerous, making it crucial to undergo detox under medical supervision to ensure safety and increase the chances of a successful recovery.

Outpatient Ativan Addiction Treatment in Chattanooga, TN

Ativan Overdose Risks

The risk of overdose when using Ativan heightens considerably when combined with other substances. While fatal overdoses involving only benzodiazepines are rare, their interaction with opioids, alcohol, or other central nervous system depressants significantly increases the potential for life-threatening situations.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), during the first half of 2020, an overwhelming majority of fatalities involving benzodiazepines also included the use of opioids, particularly illicitly manufactured fentanyl. This data suggests the added danger when these substances are used together, as benzodiazepines sourced from informal channels may be unknowingly mixed with potent opioids like fentanyl, elevating overdose risks.

Symptoms of Ativan Overdose

Symptoms from overdosing on Ativan alone typically manifest as excessive sedation and can include:

  • Deep drowsiness
  • Significant lethargy
  • Confusion
  • Impaired speech

When mixed with other CNS depressants, the symptoms can become far more severe, presenting as:

  • Profound unconsciousness
  • Lack of muscle control
  • Extremely slow or stopped breathing
  • Risk of slipping into a coma or death

This information underscores the critical importance of using Ativan responsibly and under medical supervision, especially to monitor and prevent potential interactions with other depressants. In cases of suspected overdose, immediate medical intervention is crucial to manage the effects and prevent fatal outcomes.

Does Insurance Cover Ativan Addiction Treatment?

Yes, most health insurance plans usually cover Ativan addiction treatment, either partially or in full, depending on the specifics of the policy. This coverage typically includes both inpatient and outpatient services, supporting a comprehensive approach to recovery. To understand the exact coverage details, including any deductibles or copays, it’s important to review your specific insurance policy or contact your insurance provider directly.

Ativan Addiction Treatment in Chattanooga, TN

At Iris Wellness Group we specialize in providing targeted and compassionate treatment for individuals struggling with Ativan addiction in Chattanooga, TN. Recognizing the unique journey of each person affected by Ativan addiction, our dedicated team offers personalized care plans designed to address the specific needs and challenges of our clients. Our goal is to support individuals on their path to recovery, helping them achieve a healthier, substance-free lifestyle through a comprehensive approach to treatment.

Treatment Options for Ativan Addiction

  • Outpatient Detox: Offers medically supervised detoxification services to safely manage withdrawal symptoms in an outpatient setting.
  • Outpatient Treatment: Designed for those who require flexible treatment schedules without intensive daily commitments.
  • Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP): Ideal for individuals needing more support than standard outpatient care, providing a structured therapy schedule while allowing patients to live at home.
  • Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP): Serves as a bridge between inpatient care and outpatient treatment, offering comprehensive day-long therapy sessions for more intensive care without an overnight stay.

To complement our range of treatment options, Iris Wellness Group integrates a holistic approach to therapy, targeting the multifaceted aspects of Ativan addiction. Understanding that recovery is not one-size-fits-all, we tailor our therapy programs to meet the individual needs of our clients, focusing on not just overcoming addiction but also on fostering long-term wellness and resilience.

Therapies Offered for Ativan Addiction:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Aims to identify and modify negative thought patterns and behaviors related to cannabis use.
  • Individual Therapy: Offers a private setting for patients to explore personal issues and challenges related to their addiction.
  • Group Therapy: Provides a supportive environment where individuals can share experiences and strategies for coping with addiction.
  • Family Therapy: Engages family members in the treatment process to heal relationships and build a supportive home environment for recovery.

If you or someone you care about be grappling with Ativan addiction, it’s crucial to act now. Contact our drug rehab in Chattanooga, TN at 423-541-0656 or through our online form to embark on the path towards a life free from drug dependence.

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