Ativan Addiction and Abuse
Lawyers and medical experts have reported an increase in clinical negligence cases by patients left physically and psychologically dependent by “indefensible” long-term prescribing of addictive Benzodiazepines such as Ativan.
Ativan is extremely powerful and a patient taking what looks like a small dose of 1mg
(thrice daily) might actually be consuming the equivalent of 30-40mg of Diazepam. Some patients are prescribed 2.5 mg tablets, to be taken three times a day. This dose is excessive for treating anxiety and panic disorders. At high doses, it’s very easy to develop dependency and harder to detox from Ativan.
What Is Ativan?
Ativan (with the generic name, Lorazepam)comes under the family of benzodiazepines and is used to treat seizures, panic disorders, anxiety and alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Lorazepam affects chemicals in the brain that are unbalanced in people with panic disorders and anxiety. It is classified as an intermediate-duration drug. This means that it is onlysupposed to be used for a short period of time to avoid the risk of addiction, due to the powerful effect of the pills.
Ativan is sold as concentrated, colourless liquid or quick-dissolvable tablets. It is taken orally when prescribed by doctors or administered intravenously. It takes around two hours to feel the effects of the drug and up to 20 hours for it to leave your system. You shouldn’t take Ativan if you’re pregnant (it causes birth defects or withdrawal in newborns) or if you’re allergic to Valium.
Common side effects you might experience when taking Ativan include: vomiting, reddening of the skin around the ears, muscle cramps, loss of pleasure, hallucinations, excitations, dry mouth, drooling, discouragement, dark urine, as well as difficulty speaking and swallowing.
History of Ativan Addiction
Wyeth Pharmaceutics first introduced Lorazepam under the brand names of Temesta and Ativan. D.J Richards(President of Research) developed the medicine. Though Wyeth’s original patent expired, the medication is still commercially viable. When Benzodiazepines grew popular as sedatives and tranquillisers, Ativan was one of the medicines frequently prescribed by doctors.
Causes and Risk Factors for Ativan Addiction and Abuse
Brain chemistry: Ativan targets the central nervous system, particularly the reward centre of the brain. If you are thought to lack sufficient levels of certain brain chemicals required to produce feelings of pleasure you make up for this loss by taking Ativan, resulting in dependence,
Environmental causes: environment is a known risk factor for drug addiction. It could be growing up in a family where parents or guardians used ‘benzos’ to cope with stress and soon became addicted or your circle of friends at school urging you to experiment with drugs.
Psychological factors: if you’re struggling with co-occurring disorders or dual diagnosis, you might be tempted to self-medicate with Ativan and other benzos. The problem is that abusing Ativan doesn’t help you get better, but worsens symptoms and affects your overall health.
Genetics: research findings suggest that individuals with parents who were drug addicts are twice more likely to abuse drugs and spiral into addiction themselves.
Deadly Ativan Drug Interactions
You increase the risk of drug overdose and life-threatening side effects when you take Ativan with other substances such as alcohol, opioids, hydrocodone, marijuana and diazepam.
Ativan and alcohol: Mixing alcohol with Ativan is dangerous. Alcohol depresses the central nervous system, and when combined with the sedative qualities of Ativan, could result in severe respiratory depression or even death.
Ativan and Oxycodone: By mixing Ativan with other narcotic painkillers you are putting your life at risk. Dangers include coma, respiratory distress and death.
Also, avoid operating heavy machinery that requires concentration until the drugs have completely left your system.
Why is Ativan So Addictive?
Ativan is an anticonvulsant and anti-anxiety pill, containing lorazepam. The active ingredients include magnesium stearate, monohydrate, polacriline potassium and microcrystalline cellulose. The combination of these ingredients produces a potent medicine for short-term relief of anxiety associated with depressive symptoms.
Most people develop physical dependence after taking Ativan for too long. When trying to quit, you’ll experience withdrawal symptoms. Addiction is the next stage after dependence. At this stage, you’ll have no control over your usage, disregard family responsibilities for drugs, obsess over your next dose and require the help of addiction specialists and medical professionals to quit the substance.
Ativan is addictive because it triggers the release of GABA in the brain and decreases the function of other neuronal functions. The specific GABA receptor affected by Ativan is high in quantity throughout the brain. A small dose of Ativan produces the same result as higher doses of Xanax and other benzos. The effects don’t last long, which reinforces the need to keep using once the drug has left your system.
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How Ativan Affects the Mind and body
Ativan works by enhancing the effects of the neurotransmitter, GABA. In a bid to restore chemical balance, Ativan makes GABA receptors less efficient, slows down the Central Nervous System (CNS) and lowers signs of psychological anxiety and physical tension.
Once you’ve built dependence on Ativan, your body starts adjusting until neurotransmitter levels are low enough that you’ll experience withdrawal when you try to quit§. With each dose, neurotransmitters communicate that you need higher doses to prevent withdrawal. When you try to quit, you experience symptoms such as continued insomnia with worsened depression and anxiety.
Short-Term Effects of Ativan on the Body
When misused or abused, Ativan is dangerous and addictive. Benzodiazepines are central nervous system depressants that activate GABA, which has relaxing, hypnotic and calming effects. When you use Ativan beyond its intended medical scope, the following short-term effects could manifest:
- Increased feeling of euphoria and relaxation
- Reduced sense of worry, tension, physical and psychological anxiety
- Increased sense of well-being
Long-Term Effects of Using Ativan
Several studies have linked Ativan abuse with lasting emotional and cognitive problems. You might also experience difficulty concentrating and clouded thinking. The inability to think and reduction in consciousness causes you to be unaware of your surroundings, increasing the chances of overdose and accidents.
Ativan is also linked to rebound anxiety that occurs during withdrawal. The symptoms you were trying to treat with Ativan – such as anxiety and panic disorders –become even worse than when you started taking the medication. This might last for months and you’ll need medication to prevent rebound anxiety from escalating.
Drug cravings and side effects of benzodiazepine dependence are long-term consequences of Ativan abuse. The feelings of relaxation, peace and mild euphoria produced by the drug makes it easy to like. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Ativan abuse contributes to cravings by changing brain functions.
Long-term drug usage exposes you to skin infections, sexually transmitted diseases (such as HIV and Hepatitis), car accidents, lower reflexes and over-sedation. Mental health patients are especially vulnerable, as Ativan abuse worsens symptoms and requires specialised treatment.
Physical Signs and symptoms of Ativan Abuse and Addiction
Physical signs to look for in an individual abusing Ativan include:
- Skin Rashes
- Blurred vision
- Change in appetite
- Muscle weakness
- Memory problems
- Drowsiness and dizziness
- Loss of coordination
Psychological signs and symptoms of Ativan Abuse and Addiction
Ativan addiction is a serious condition with ever-increasing consequences. Psychological symptoms are usually harder to spot, have mostly long-term effects and require therapy to treat.
The most successful addiction programmes treat both the body and mind, because healing cannot take place until you’ve addressed all underlying psychological issues related to addiction.
Some of the signs of psychological abuse and addiction include:
- ‘Doctor shopping’ to get prescriptions for more drugs
- You stop caring about grooming and personal hygiene
- Constant tiredness and unexplained depression
- Avoiding situations where you won’t be able to use drugs for long
- Secretive behaviour, because you don’t want anyone to find out about your drug use
- Obsession over your next drug dose
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Signs of Ativan Withdrawal and Overdose
At the stage of substance dependence, you’ll experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop using Ativan. Some symptoms are dangerous and life-threatening. Therefore, it’s important to complete the process at a rehab treatment centre. Signs of Ativan withdrawal include headaches, insomnia, sweating, diarrhoea, vomiting, loss of appetite, abdominal cramps, anxiety, vertigo, irritability, panic attacks, short-term memory loss and irregular heart rate.
It’s slightly more difficult to tell when someone is overdosing on Ativan, as they might appear to be ill or simply ‘high’ on the substance. Therefore, knowing the signs of Ativan overdose might help you save a life. They include: blurred vision, cognitive impairment, bluish tint to fingernails, hallucinations, slowed reflexes, uncontrolled eye movement, lethargy, slowed heart rate, cognitive impairment, seizures, coma and death.
Dangerous Effects of Ativan Abuse and Addiction
Many people suffering with serious mental health issues are also substance abusers, some of whom self-medicate with pills like Ativan. Using Ativan when you have a co-occurring disorder leads to suicide ideation, emotional apathy and aggravated symptoms of depression.Long-term usage changes cell structure of the brain and makes it very difficult to conquer withdrawal cravings associated with Ativan addiction.
Physical, Psychological, Emotional, Behavioural and Psychological Effects of Ativan Abuse and Addiction
The consequences of Ativan abuse aren’t just physical or psychological, but also affect emotional and mental health. When you’re unable to manage your emotions,it’s a frightening situation that leaves you feeling scared and helpless. Long-term drug use can worsen and intensify symptoms of anxiety, which is detrimental to your emotional health. Ativan addicts suffer from feelings of depression, aggression, personality changes, mood swings, loneliness, isolation, worthlessness and helplessness.
Such feelings affect your attitude to work, family and other responsibilities. The feelings of worthlessness and helplessness come from knowing you’re unable to stop using drugs on your own, without external support. Every time you try to quit, the withdrawal symptoms hit you hard and you fall deeper into addiction in a bid to self-medicate.
These symptoms affect individuals even after they’ve detoxed from drugs. Hence, it’s important you seek professional help at an addiction treatment centre to fully address psychological, mental and emotional issues causing, or resulting from substance misuse disorder.
Social Impacts of Ativan abuse
The first thing addiction does is isolate you from everyone else. You’ll stop attending social functions, spend more time indoors and keep a small circle made up of drug using friends and dealers. Drug abuse affects your relationship with your family, as your behaviour towards them becomes predictable.
Your finances will also suffer, as most of your money will be spent feeding your addiction, and because Ativan abuse will eventually prevent you from holding down a job; forfeiting your financial security.
Therapy, Treatment and Rehab for Ativan Abuse and Addiction
The potency of benzos means they’re only meant to be used for a short period, usually ranging from one to two weeks and not longer than a month. You build tolerance when the original dose no longer works and you need higher doses to feel the previous effects. The cycle accelerates the journey to dependency, which is accompanied by intense cravings when you try to quit.
At this stage, you require specialised treatment to wean you off Ativan and help you adapt to a life without drugs. During detox, the drugs are expunged from your body and medical professionals provide medication to ease the discomfort associated with withdrawal.
After detox, you’ll transition to rehab. Options include:
Inpatient rehab:during which you’ll live in a treatment centre. It’s a structured environment with programmes designed to maximise recovery and sober living. It uses a combination of medication-assisted treatment and therapy models like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Contingency Management and Interviewing, to teach you coping strategies for avoiding triggers and dealing with stressors in the outside world.
Intensive Outpatient Programme (IOP):Is designed for patients who want to attend rehab but can’t take time off work to do so. Patients live at home and attend weekly rehab programmes, three times a week, for three hours each time.
Traditional outpatient rehab: Patients attend rehab programmes several evenings during the week and treatment lasts for one or two hours, depending on your particular needs.
Ativan Addiction Treatment Prices
Addiction treatment is cheap when compared to the cost of maintaining your drug habit. Ativan is a powerful drug that is used for a short period. Its potency increases the potential for overdose and addiction when you abuse the drug in anyway.
However expensive the price of treatment might appear, this shouldn’t prevent you from seeking help.
The cost of rehab treatment is determined by the size of the facility, expertise of staff on the ground, number of traditional and alternative therapy techniques, type of rehab and amenities on offer. Standard residential treatment costs around £1,000 a week and £5,000 a month. Executive or luxury rehab programmes cost as much as £10,000 a week in some places.
You can pay for treatment by using private health insurance if you have it or seeking financial aid from friends and family, using your personal funds or paying with your credit card. Whatever you spend, it will be worth it for the price of good health and a drug-free life.
Staying off Ativan
The goal of any aftercare plan is to help you maintain sobriety. Attend doctor appointments to receive medication for cravings, don’t miss scheduled sessions with your therapist and attend NA meetings even when you don’t feel like it. Stay away from temptations and places you know might carry triggers, such as drug-using friends, nightclubs or areas where you purchased drugs in the past.
Ensure you follow the doctor’s guidelines when it comes to taking replacement medication, in order to avoid the risk of switching one addictionfor another, as some recovering addicts are prone to do. If you’re struggling, call your sober friend and get to a community-based meeting immediately.
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Individual therapy only works if you’re honest with your answers and are serious about getting better. You’ll work with a therapist to understand negative actions and behavioursfrom your past that encouraged drug use. Counselling also focuses on recognising emotions and thoughts that fuelled drug use. Techniques include Motivational Interviewing, Cognitive BehaviouralTherapy (CBT) and Contingency Management.
Addiction alienates you from loved ones and friends, so it’s important that you build a network of sober friends after rehab. Mutual support groups are the best place to start. Here, you’ll be surrounded by people who want to get better and stay sober. For people addicted to prescription pills like Ativan, your options include 12-step programmes, SMART Recovery and Narcotics Anonymous.
The effects of addiction aren’t limited to the individual user. There are many reasons why people turn to drugs and successful treatment must incorporate the family unit. Family therapy targets every individual in that group. It is based on the premise that the family shares a connection. You can affect different components of that connection by adjusting just one aspect (of the connection).
It’s time for family therapy if:
- Your family member uses drugs in spite of concerns.
- Other treatment for drug addiction hasn’t worked
- You’re willing to learn how to help your family member stop using and encourage sobriety
- Your family member’s drug use has had an impact on your mental and physical health
- There are certain family issues which you think might have been a contributing factor
- in their drug usage
Ativan Addiction: Facts and Statistics
- In 2011, more than 27 million prescriptions were written for Ativan.
- 95% of Benzodiazepines abusers have a polydrug use problem.
- 9% of those whose substance of choice is Ativan abuse other drugs.
- In 2002, Benzodiazepineswere responsible for nearly 350,000 ER visits. From that figure, 35,000 was attributed specifically to Ativan abuse.
- Ativan is one of three benzos with the highest potential for physical abuse. The other two are Halcion and Xanax.
- Benzos like Ativan are linked to over 50% of drug-related suicide attempts.
- Ativan was created as an anti-anxiety pill in 1977, but the use has since spread to treating seizures, insomnia, vertigo and alcohol withdrawal.
- 3% of Ativan hospital visits are related to recreational users injecting Ativan to increase the potency of the ‘high’.
What is Ativan Addiction and Treatment?
When you abuse drugs by taking higher doses than prescribed by your doctor, it’s easy to become addicted. Addiction occurs when you can’t control your drug use, obsess over your next hit and keep taking drugs even when you know the consequences. Treatment for Ativan is required to reverse the effects of addiction, cleanse your body of drugs and teach you to live a sober life.
What is the Ativan ‘High’ Like?
Drug users have stated that it’s hard to get ‘high’ off Ativan. Compared to Xanax (that switches off your brain and makes it impossible to feel stress), Ativan helps you relax and eases anxiety, so you’re still able to function.
Do Controlling Parents Increase Children’s Risk of Addiction?
Some children can’t escape the consequences of controlling parents. In turn, some have caused lifelong psychological damage to their children, who turn to drugs to escape their home situation.
What Is Ativan Abuse?
Abuse occurs when you use the drug in any way not prescribed by your doctor. If you chew, snort or inject the pill to increase the potency of the ‘high’, it is considered abuse. If you take higher doses with increased frequency (because you’ve built tolerance to the previous dose) that is also seen as abuse.
Is Ativan Just a Harmless Drug?
Doctors prescribe Ativanfor panic disorders and anxiety, so it might seem like a harmless medication. However, Ativan is very potent and a prime candidate for accidental overdose and abuse. It’s even more dangerous when you mix it with depressants like alcohol.
How is Ativan Legally Classified?
In the UK, under the Misuse of Drugs Regulation 2001, Ativan isclassified as a Class C, Schedule 4 drug.
Is Ativan Addictive?
Ativan is a habit-forming medication that is easy to become addicted to when you take more than the prescribed dose or abuse the medication.
What are the Dangers of MixingAtivan?
The relaxing effect of Ativan is more potent when combined with other substances such as alcohol, amphetamines, methadone and cocaine. Mixing Ativan with alcohol stimulates a rapid ‘high’. It increases central nervous system depression, risk of overdose, excessive sedation, unconsciousness, coma and death.
What are the Dangers of Overdosing?
Drug overdose can be accidental or intentional. An overdose on benzodiazepines could lead to tremors, breathing difficulties, altered mental status, extreme dizziness, disorientation, brain damage, muscle damage, pneumonia and even death.
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