Ativan: The Hidden Addiction

Ativan: The Hidden Addiction

Ativan is the trade name for the generic drug lorazepam, a benzodiazepine prescribed for anxiety and other disorders. Like other benzodiazepines, Ativan works by attaching to GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) receptors in the brain. This slows down chemical signals and creates a calming effect. 

Even though Ativan is safe for treating certain conditions, it is an addictive drug. To further complicate matters, some people falsely assume that Ativan is “safe” because it is prescribed legally by doctors. Therefore, it’s more likely for people to misuse the drug and be at a higher risk for addiction. 

If you’re worried about a possible Ativan addiction, contact an outpatient drug rehab in Phoenix. You do not need to hit rock bottom to receive help. As well as that, early treatment is generally very successful. 

What is Ativan? Why Do Doctors Prescribe It? 

Ativan is a tranquilizing medication used to treat anxiety, insomnia and seizures. The benefit to this drug is that it produces a calming effect on the brain and nerves without impairing the cardiovascular or respiratory systems. Doctors are aware of the potential risks for addiction, which is why most prescribe the drug for 3 to 4 months. 

Here are some conditions that Ativan can treat: 

  • Anxiety
  • Bipolar disorder 
  • Chronic sleep problems 
  • Restlessness 
  • Muscle spasms 
  • Nausea 
  • Alcohol withdrawal symptoms 

How Addictive is Ativan? 

Ativan can cause a physical dependence. First, the body develops a tolerance to the drug and you require more of it to get the same effects. This is one of the reasons why doctors only like this drug for a short period of time. After a few months, Ativan doesn’t work as well. In addition, the risk for overdose increases as your tolerance and dosages increase. 

Second, when you are dependent on Ativan, you can suffer withdrawal effects. Because it’s difficult to stop using the drug, mental and behavioral symptoms can develop as well. This is what true addiction is – a chronic brain disorder characterized by compulsive use of substances despite negative consequences. 

Ativan Withdrawal is Dangerous 

Withdrawal symptoms from Ativan can be particularly uncomfortable, which is why you should always seek help from a Phoenix treatment center. Here, you can receive medically supervised detox that follows a tapering process. Suddenly stopping Ativan can lead to serious complications. Additionally, being in a structured rehab provides the support you need to manage your symptoms. 

Some of the most common symptoms of Ativan withdrawal are: 

  • Anxiety
  • Depression 
  • Vertigo
  • Confusion
  • Sweating
  • Insomnia
  • Panic attacks 
  • Hallucinations 
  • Seizures

man with an Ativan addiction

Why an Ativan Addiction is Hard to Catch 

Recognizing an Ativan addiction is not always easy because most people begin taking Ativan legally to treat anxiety or insomnia. Because of the addictive nature of this drug, it’s easy to become physically dependent. The risk for dependency is higher if you use the drug for longer than 4 months or combine it with other drugs to get a more intense effect. 

To expand on this, some people who abuse Ativan are poly-drug users who consume various drugs at once. It’s not uncommon for Ativan to be part of a more broad drug use regimen. One of the most common combinations is benzodiazepines and opioids because of their recreational value. Unfortunately, this mixture can lead to a fatal overdose. 

While Ativan addiction can be difficult to pinpoint right away, there are some red flags to be on the lookout for. These include: 

  • Faking symptoms to get more Ativan 
  • Obtaining Ativan from other people who have a prescription
  • Engaging in “doctor shopping” to get multiple prescriptions 
  • Purchasing Ativan illegally on the street 

Treatment for an Ativan Addiction 

Once you go through detox and withdrawal, you can start holistic outpatient treatment in Phoenix. At this time, there are no medications specifically approved to treat benzodiazepine addiction, other than using benzos in the tapering process. But, there are psycho-behavioral therapies that are promising in treating benzo addiction. 

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioral therapy is widely used by Phoenix treatment centers to address all types of addictions. The goal is to teach people to find connections between their thoughts, feelings and actions and how they led to the addiction. A huge benefit of CBT is that it treats co-occurring disorders simultaneously and helps people develop new ways of dealing with stress. 

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)

Dialectical behavior therapy is another type of psychotherapy that can treat substance abuse and mental illness at the same time. This therapy helps recovering addicts learn several essential skills like mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotional regulation and interpersonal effectiveness. As a result, you can change negative behaviors and make recovery easier. 

Medication-assisted therapy (MAT)

Because of its close relationship to opioids, MAT is sometimes used to treat a benzo addiction. MAT uses medications, in combination with counseling and behavioral therapy, to treat opioid use disorders. All medications are FDA-approved. 

Family therapy 

We cannot overlook the importance of family therapy when addressing addiction. It’s often family and concerned loved ones who recognize the abuse and get their loved one into holistic outpatient addiction treatment. By continuing to include the family in the healing process, it’s easier to maintain long-term recovery. 

Twelve-step programs 

Twelve-step programs are integral to the recovery framework. They provide structure and support to people in recovery long after they complete outpatient rehab. Twelve-step groups are unique because they are organized and led by members in the group – not a psychotherapist. As you grow in your recovery, you can eventually become a sponsor and lead the way for someone else. 

Ativan is an addictive drug that can cause problems for some individuals, particularly those with a personal or family history of addiction. If you are concerned about an Ativan addiction in yourself or a loved one, please contact Continuum Recovery Center today. We can give you the tools and skills you need to maintain lifelong sobriety.