Signs of Ativan Addiction and Withdrawal

Inpatient medical detox and residential primary addiction treatment may be available at our affiliated facility at Level Up Detox Treatment Palm Beach. For some primary behavioral health treatment clients, medical detox may be required first. If you have a co-occurring severe substance abuse diagnosis, please contact us prior to beginning inpatient mental health therapy. Treatment services may vary. Please call us to learn which treatment options are most suited for your individual needs.

Ativan detox might not be easy, but the benefits of overcoming Ativan addiction far outweigh the negative side effects of detox. Ativan (Lorazepam) is a drug that calms the central nervous system to soothe feelings of anxiety. This drug works by enhancing the effects of a specific natural chemical in the body (GABA).

Ativan is classified as a Benzodiazepine, or Benzo. It loses its medical purpose if taken for more extended periods of time or in too high doses. Unfortunately, Ativan is a prescribed drug taken orally that is capable of causing addiction, especially in those with a history of other mental disorders.

Ativan Detox
Ativan Detox

Like other benzodiazepines, Ativan interacts with GABA receptors to increase the activity of that inhibitory neurotransmitter. At prescription doses (and when used in the short-term), Ativan’s sedative properties can help a person manage their anxiety and reduce seizure activity. However, an increase in GABA activity may affect the disinhibition of certain dopamine-releasing brain cells. It is this accompanying increase in dopamine that contributes to the abuse of Ativan.

Despite its legitimate medical uses, Ativan has known addictive and dependence liability. This is one reason why Ativan is prescribed for relatively short-term use. Ativan detox can be a long process but is necessary to overcome the addiction. However, people should be careful to adhere to prescription guidelines. If not, if an individual exceeds the recommended dosage, it may increase the likelihood of addiction development. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) [1], it has been suggested that seizures may occur late in detoxification with short-acting benzodiazepines such as lorazepam (Ativan) and oxazepam.

Signs of Ativan Addiction

If the anxiety is gone and the person continues to take Ativan, he or she may be abusing it for the euphoric feelings it brings rather than canceling out your previous natural symptoms, such as anxiety.

If you’ve noticed any of the following, you or your loved one might have an addiction, and need a Ativan detox program:

  • Ativan is often taken in greater amounts or over a longer period than intended.
  • There is a persistent desire or unsuccessful effort to cut down or control the use of the Ativan.
  • A great deal of time is spent in activities necessary to obtain, use or recover from the effects of Ativan.
  • There is a strong desire, cravings, or urge to use the Ativan.
  • The use of Ativan results in a failure to perform major obligations at work, school, or home.
  • Ativan use continues despite having social or interpersonal problems.
  • Important social, occupational, or recreational activities are given up because of Ativan use.
  • Ativan use occurs in conditions in which it is physically hazardous.
  • A tolerance for the drugs.

Ativan Withdrawal

People who are addicted to Ativan will likely experience withdrawal when they stop using the drug. Withdrawal also happens to those who rapidly decrease their dose. Apparently, even those who follow a prescription and follow recommended dosage can have withdrawal symptoms. People may develop a physical dependence on Ativan in just a week.

Withdrawal from Ativan can be potentially dangerous and even deadly due to the possibility of developing seizures during the withdrawal process. Withdrawal often occurs in two stages, these are acute and post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS).

Acute withdrawal symptoms of Ativan can include:

  • Sleep disturbance
  • Irritability
  • Increased tension and anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Seizures
  • Hand tremors
  • Excessive sweating
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Dry heaving and nausea
  • Headache
  • Muscular pain and stiffness
  • Blood pressure changes
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Palpitations
  • Weight loss
Ativan detox
Ativan detox can be uncomfortable at first, but it is necessary and definitely worth it

PAWS withdrawal symptoms from Ativan can include:

  • Anxiety
  • Seizures
  • Depression or dysphoria
  • Cravings
  • Sleep difficulties
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Reduced interest or lack of initiative
  • Inability to feel pleasure
  • Constantly feeling tired
  • Obsessive compulsive tendencies
  • Memory problems

Ativan Withdrawal Timeline

Acute withdrawal symptoms can start within 10 to 24 hours following the last dose. However, the amount of time varies per person and may be longer or shorter for some. The average onset of withdrawal symptoms is 3-4 days.

A post-acute withdrawal syndrome occurs after the acute phase and typically lasts 10-14 days. However, in individuals who use very high doses of Ativan, it could last even longer. In this stage, individuals will continue to experience symptoms of anxiety, drug cravings, nausea, vomiting, headache, general malaise and may even begin to develop depression.

Some individuals who have co-occurring anxiety or panic disorders may also experience a return of anxiety symptoms that may persist until treatment is put into place.

Days 1-3

During the Ativan detox process, acute withdrawal symptoms, like headache and nausea, typically begin within the first 24 hours after quitting use.

Days 4-7

Symptoms of withdrawal tend to peak during this time period. The symptoms and severity vary by person but may include tremors, cravings, and irritability.

Days 8-14

The symptoms of withdrawal usually start to lessen during the second week. By this time, acute withdrawal symptoms should have most, if not completely, subsided. Rebound symptoms often start 2-3 days after acute withdrawal ends and may include severe anxiety, rapid heart rate, an increase in blood pressure, and insomnia.

Days 15+

Typically the worst part of Ativan detox process is over at this point. The acute withdrawal symptoms should mostly be gone. Any lingering symptoms should be mild. Protracted withdrawal symptoms may begin for some Ativan users.

Medically-Assisted Ativan Detox

The first step in treating Ativan withdrawal is to detox from the substance. During Ativan detox, individuals slowly taper off their dose over the course of a period of time ranging from a few days to a month or more until they are no longer experiencing dangerously acute withdrawal symptoms.

Some withdrawal treatment programs may also provide a less powerful and longer-acting benzodiazepine for individuals with severe Ativan addiction. Medications can help to reduce Withdrawal symptoms, prevent potentially lethal seizures, and make the Ativan detox process more comfortable.

It is also safer to detox within a medically assisted facility with medical professionals and clinicians. Doctors can monitor the Ativan user during detox and intervene if any of the withdrawal symptoms become life-threatening.

Once Ativan detox is complete, treatment usually continues in an inpatient or outpatient setting, depending on the individual’s needs. Treatment in an inpatient or outpatient program will give the client their best chance at a successful recovery. These Ativan detox programs can help with the process, making it both safer and more comfortable. They’ll also teach the skills necessary to remain sober during recovery.

What to Expect During Ativan Detox

It is necessary for us to be transparent about the topic of detox. It will not be an easy process. A person will likely experience different side effects from their drug use. These side effects may be emotional, physical, or mental. Someone in withdrawal will likely experience uncomfortable feelings and negative thoughts about life during the process of detox. Unfortunately for those with a physical dependency, detox is an inevitable first step to recovery. 

We Level FL Mental Health Center: Primary Mental Health Treatment with Secondary Co-Occurring Treatment

We Level Up FL primary mental health center stands ready to help. Offering secondary treatment therapy for underlying problems like Ativan Addiction often fuel negative behaviors. Taking that first step to getting the help you deserve can be life-changing.

We understand how behavioral disorders and secondary co-occurring addiction diagnoses directly impact each other. We Level Up Florida can instill a support system through our mental health treatments that can make you feel valuable. Call us now for a free mental health assessment! 

Inpatient medical detox and residential primary addiction treatment may be available at our affiliated facility at Level Up Treatment West Palm Beach.


[1] NCBI – Ativan Detox