Ativan (in its generic form, known as lorazepam) is prescribed by mental health professionals and physicians primarily for treatment of anxiety disorders. A benzodiazepine drug, Ativan causes neural activity to slow in order to initiate anti-anxiety and sedation effects. However, when used in high dosages, Ativan can initiate euphoric sensations in the user. Though Ativan is recommended for limited duration use, long-term use is often exercised — both by prescription and recreational users.
Unfortunately, Ativan is known as a long-acting benzodiazepine — causing doses to leave a user’s body slowly, accumulating in the bloodstream and fatty tissues. This combination of chemical euphoria and layered drug activity can lead individuals to develop long-standing addictions to Ativan, requiring professional drug addiction help and intervention to treat.
Risks of Ativan Abuse and Addiction
Over time, Ativan can cause a host of negative physical effects in the user. Even within a week of obtaining a prescription of Ativan, insomnia may occur in users. A gradual tapering of dosage administered by a physician is recommended when a user has either taken Ativan for a long period of time or in large doses. Pregnant women, people with co-morbid psychiatric disorders, the elderly, children and those with addiction histories are considered to be much more vulnerable to the effects of Ativan, and have been shown to experience a higher likelihood of dependency on the benzodiazepine.
Prolonged Ativan use has been associated with vision problems, dry mouth, headaches, skin allergic reactions, jaundice and dermatological issues. Changes in libido may occur along with impotence, lack of coordination, and muscle weakness. Ativan users may also develop constipation, nausea, discomfort in the abdomen, diarrhea, suppressed appetite and vomiting. More severe and long-term physical effects of Ativan include respiratory depression, the amplification of obstructive pulmonary disease and even coma.
Symptoms of Ativan Withdrawal
Withdrawal symptoms also occur among long-term users of Ativan. Particularly when Ativan addiction has taken hold, an abrupt halt in the medication may lead to symptoms such as insomnia, anxiety, hypersensitivity, reoccurring pneumonia, involuntary movements and numbness and tingling in the extremities. Ativan’s restraint of neural activity can also cause psychological effects on chronic users.
Memory, judgment and thinking capacity may become compromised, and confusion and disorientation can set in. Speech may begin to slur or the user may start to stutter. Ativan users can also experience rapid mood swings, vertigo, fatigue, erratic and hostile behavior, amnesia, suicidal thoughts and hallucinations during the withdrawal period. In rare cases, withdrawal can lead users to overuse the drug in fatally high dosages, though most cases of overdose involve alcohol or polydrug use.