Ativan is a benzodiazepine medication used to ease symptoms of panic attacks and anxiety. Benzodiazepines are categorized as a schedule IV controlled substance because they have a high potential for addiction and abuse even though they can treat mental health conditions. Unfortunately, those with mental health problems such as anxiety are at a higher risk of developing an addiction to alcohol and drugs.
Abusing Ativan does not necessarily mean you are addicted, but abuse substantially raises the risk of becoming dependent and addicted to it. The signs of Ativan addiction are different from those of abuse. When an individual starts becoming obsessed with getting more of the drug or is unable to reduce their Ativan use even if it has negative consequences, this is a sign they are addicted and in need of Ativan detox.
Ativan is also known as Lorazepam, and doctors rarely prescribe it for a period of longer than four months because it can be addictive. Ativan is a long-acting sedative benzodiazepine drug. It produces a strong reaction when taken with alcohol, which is why people on Ativan are not supposed to drink.
Taking alcohol with Ativan causes substantial impairment and increases the risk of death and overdose. Unfortunately, individuals who abuse Ativan recreationally and those addicted to it usually mix it with alcohol occasionally to get a more potent high from the drug.
Reasons for Ativan Abuse
Since Ativan is a prescription drug, most people who take it can assume it is not possible to become addicted or abuse it. One can also easily overlook the indications of Ativan abuse just because a doctor legally prescribed it. However, just because a drug is legal and obtained legitimately through a healthcare provider does not mean it is entirely safe.
Most effective and legal medications have the potential for addiction. People who have been prescribed Ativan can use more of it than prescribed to achieve a more potent effect. This causes the body to develop a tolerance to the medication quickly, and over time, they will need higher doses to achieve the desired results. If you notice this behavior in yourself or a loved one, it could be a sign you need Ativan detox.
People usually abuse Ativan to become drowsy or get a sense of calm, aside from feeling high. Mixing Ativan with alcohol amplifies the drug’s effects, generating a potent high. Users addicted to powerful stimulants such as cocaine will occasionally use Ativan to come down from the stimulant high.
Drug abuse and addiction can affect everyone, and no specific group is immune to substance use disorders. However, some risk factors will raise an individual’s chances of abusing prescription drugs and developing an addiction, such as:
- Developing an addiction to substances like alcohol, other drugs, or tobacco products at a young age.
- Psychological factors such as risk-taking personality traits, mental health disorders
- Environmental factors like peer pressure, poverty, and stress
- Genetic predispositions
Signs of Ativan Abuse
- Doctor shopping
- Stealing someone else’s prescription
- Getting anxious at the thought of not having enough of the drug
- Getting withdrawal symptoms when you reduce your drug use
- Combining Ativan with other substances to become high
- Taking more Ativan than prescribed by one’s doctor.
Anyone abusing prescription medication will usually doctor shop, which involves going to multiple doctors in a short period to obtain various Ativan prescriptions. Some patients lie to their doctors to say they’ve lost their Ativan prescription to get more of it from sympathetic and unsuspecting doctors. This is another indication that you need an Ativan detox.
How to help someone with an Ativan addiction
Since Ativan is a psychoactive Benzodiazepine medication, it also has high addiction potential. This is why doctors usually prescribe it on an as-needed or short-term basis because the body can become too used to it if used frequently. Even though Ativan may reduce the severity of your symptoms for some time, it can still lead to tolerance, resulting in misuse of the medication.
The risk of addiction and unpleasant side effects increases with further Ativan use. Once you stop using this medication after heavy, frequent, or long-term use, you may experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. At this time, you may feel worse without the drug and will want to use it to feel normal. Withdrawal and tolerance can happen over weeks, months, or years. For some individuals, it can happen immediately, while it may take longer for others. Despite the timing, this is how an addiction usually develops.
There is no specific drug that can address an Ativan addiction. Instead, an Ativan detox followed by an outpatient or inpatient treatment program and talk therapy is recommended. Getting off benzodiazepines when you have developed an addiction can lead to uncomfortable and painful withdrawal symptoms.
A certified rehabilitation program can prescribe medications for individuals recovering from an Ativan abuse problem or addiction. These drugs can help to reduce the effects and intensity of the withdrawals experienced during detox. Patients who have been on an Ativan prescription to address anxiety will need to see a doctor experienced with substance abuse disorders and addiction. Doctors can prescribe safe and non-addictive alternatives to help patients deal with their anxiety symptoms.
People abuse drugs for different reasons. Anyone who has ever dealt with drug cravings and abuse has specific triggers that cause them to abuse addictive substances. A skilled therapist has the training to help patients identify their drug use triggers, develop proper coping skills, and make healthy lifestyle changes to reduce the risk of relapse. A rehab facility also offers access to recreational activities and support groups to help recovering individuals develop healthy relationships with other sober-minded individuals.