Ativan is a prescription drug that belongs in the Benzodiazepine class of drugs. It is medically prescribed to people suffering from anxiety-related disorders and has been known to cause serious side effects when not taken as per the doctor’s prescription. It is highly potent meaning that it has to be ingested within short periods to prevent dependency and addiction.
A patient who fails to follow the physician’s prescription is at risk of forming a dependency on the drug. Due to its potency, an Ativan user is at high risk of increasing their drug tolerance. When tolerance increases, a patient will require a high dosage to feel the normal effect of the drug. This tolerance causes dependency and addiction that makes the person unable to stop using Ativan. When the person suddenly stops using the drug, they get serious withdrawal symptoms. This guide will help you understand the withdrawal experience of a person struggling with addiction.
How Does Ativan Withdrawal Work?
If you are an avid user of Ativan, you will experience withdrawal symptoms within less than 24 hours of quitting its use. This is because of its potency and severe effects on the GABA receptors in the brain. You are also likely to experience withdrawal when you consume a lower dosage in comparison to the dosage that your body is acclimated to. Additionally, patients who stick to the prescription and follow it to the latter are also likely to experience withdrawal symptoms once they stop using Ativan. Some medical reports indicate that due to its potency some patients become addicted to Ativan within a week of use.
Withdrawal takes place when the body starts relying on Ativan to perform its normal functions. When the body does not receive the normal dosage of Ativan it tries to adjust to functioning without it. This period is uncomfortable and painful for the person with substance abuse problems. The time and amount of pain that the body will experience during this time for adjustment depending on the time spent abusing the drug and the amount abused. Additionally, factors such as the health history and the likelihood of the person developing mental health disorder will determine how severe and long the withdrawal symptoms will last.
Symptoms of Ativan Withdrawal
Due to the severe withdrawal symptoms experienced by people suffering from substance abuse problems such as Ativan, doctors recommend that they are weaned off the drug. Quitting suddenly will have harmful effects on the health of the person such as psychotic reactions, hallucinations, and seizures.
Withdrawal from benzodiazepine drugs occurs in two stages, namely protracted and acute withdrawal.
- Acute withdrawal – This is simply referred to as withdrawal. It is the first stage of withdrawal and it entails both psychological and physical symptoms. The common symptoms that fall in this category include hand tremors, irritability, insomnia, cravings, sweating, headache, nausea, vomiting, stiffness, lack of concentration, and a rapid heart rate. Furthermore, the person is likely to experience confusion, irregular blood pressure, abdominal cramps, mood swings, panic attacks, weight loss, and palpitations. If a person desperately wants to stop using Ativan, they should consider medically-assisted detox. This detox will help ease the process and prevent complications brought about by the withdrawal symptoms. It will also increase their chance of getting their life back together by beating their addiction.
- Protracted withdrawal – This stage is also referred to as post-acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS). These symptoms are normal psychological and they take place once the patient completes the acute withdrawal symptoms stage. The person is likely to experience symptoms such as feeling tired, lack of pleasure, and lack of concentration, sleep issues, cravings, depression, anxiety, memory issues, and obsessive-compulsive issues.
Once a person gets over the PAWS stage, they will be able to cope with their Ativan addiction. They will apply their skills and coping mechanisms to divert their attention from craving the drug. However, not everyone can do this even after completing both stages of Ativan withdrawal. Some people experience the rebound stage. This stage can be experienced at any time during the treatment process. The rebound stage is when a person struggling with Ativan addiction experiences temporary symptoms that led to them using the drug in the first place.
For example, a person will experience similar symptoms as those of a person struggling with anxiety or depression-related disorders. The symptoms will make them feel like their underlying psychological health issues are what are causing the problem, making them turn back to the drug for help. This can be experienced within 2 to 4 days after a person completes the acute withdrawal stage. A doctor will gauge your body and behavior and know whether it is truly a rebound stage symptom or a true mental health symptom. This is a very critical stage that abuses most people struggling with Ativan addiction to relapse. Weaning your body off the drug will prevent you from experiencing rebound symptoms.
Ativan Withdrawal Period
The time taken in the withdrawal stage of Ativan depends on the amount spent abusing the drug and the dosage. People who take high dosages for a longer period tend to have more severe and longer-lasting withdrawal periods. Due to its potency and chemical properties, Ativan remains in a user’s body for an average period of 12 hours.
The acute withdrawal stage takes place approximately 8 to 24 hours after the last time the drug was taken. This is an approximation meaning that it could take a longer or shorter time. The PAWS stage lasts between 8 to 14 days and reduces as the weeks’ pass. It is estimated that some people struggling with Ativan abuse recovery experience the symptoms within months while others take up to two years.
The final stage greatly affects the psychological health of the patient making them feel like their life is less fun and structured without the drug. PAWS symptoms need to be addressed medically and the person needs a lot of support from their loved ones. The treatment interventions during recovery will help the person cope with Ativan recovery symptoms and prevent them from relapsing.