Ativan Symptoms and Warning Signs

What Is Ativan?

Ativan is the brand name for a highly effective prescription medication commonly known as lorazepam. It is a short-to-intermediate acting sedative, normally used in the treatment of anxiety and other depressive disorders. On the street, Ativan is known by several other names including roches, roofies, tranks, downers, and benzos. The last name came from the fact that it is a part of the benzodiazepine medication group. Benzodiazepines are drugs that act with the chemicals in the brain to stop anxiety.

Ativan is generally sold in tablet form, but there are also skin patches, and an injectable form of the drug as well. The highly-addictive and habit-forming nature of Ativan is why it is not recommended for long-term use. Unfortunately, the drug has become one of the most abuse benzodiazepines in the world.

People become addicted to Ativan because it creates a feeling of complete relaxation, this has been described as being like in a trance by some users.  The prescription is generally made out to people with muscle-related problems, restless legs syndrome, and temporary memory impairment. It is also used in some places in the treatment of alcohol withdrawal.  When you use Ativan, feelings of agitation, depression, and anger may start to manifest as the original positive effects wear off.  These unpleasant feelings will compel you to take more Ativan to try and ward them off, leading to eventual addiction.

Addiction to Ativan doesn’t immediately occur after you have first taken the drug. It only happens when you have used the drug for a long period of time.  You can develop an addiction even when you have maintained the dosage level prescribed by your doctor. The physical and physiological addiction to Ativan is not only unpleasant, it can also have more far-reaching effects.

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Recovery from Ativan abuse can be difficult, but it is possible. All you need to do is to find the right treatment programme, to be sure you get all the help you need to curb the abuse, and also address the possible reasons why you turned to Ativan in the first place.

The right rehab centre will give you all the support you need to rid yourself of your Ativan addiction, and help you to take control of your life again. If you are struggling with Ativan abuse and addiction, you must talk to an expert, to get help and find the recovery programme that is best for you.

Exploring Ativan Abuse

Like many other drugs in its class, prolonged Ativan use can lead to physical dependence on the drug.  It begins with your body developing a tolerance to the effects of the drug, at which point you will need to continue increasing your dosage level in order to get the desired effect or recreational high you were able to get before with a lower amount. However, your as tolerance builds, you are exposing yourself to further risks, as the drug begins to get a stronger hold of your body.  At this stage, you will probably experience withdrawal symptoms if you attempt to stop using the drug suddenly, or if you attempt to drastically cut down on the amount you use. When you become addicted to Ativan, you will often display certain psychological and behavioural signs. For instance, you will find yourself using a considerable amount of energy and time on finding and taking Ativan, even when your professional, private, and family lives are being affected. You are abusing Ativan if you:

  • Take Ativan without a prescription
  • Use Ativan in higher doses, or more frequently, than was prescribed by a doctor
  • Use Ativan just to get high
  • Mix Ativan with other drugs or with alcohol
  • Use Ativan by crushing the pills to snort or dissolving in liquid to inject into your body

Signs and Symptoms of Ativan Abuse

In anyone abusing Ativan, the following are common signs you may well notice:

  • Feelings of physical and mental relaxation
  • Feelings of calmness
  • Euphoria
  • Slowed breathing rate
  • Reduced concentration ability
  • Poor coordination and motor skills
  • Slow response time

If a high dose of Ativan is used over a long period of time, the following symptoms may be seen:

  • Paranoia
  • Unexplained aggression
  • Decreased interest in pleasurable activities
  • Lack of motivation
  • Memory issues and forgetfulness
  • Dangerously slowed breathing

If Ativan is mixed with other substances, such as alcohol, the end result could be an intense seizure, coma, and, ultimately, death. Ativan abuse has also led to kidney failure, extreme depression, and respiratory failure in some cases. Overdosing on Ativan can also be fatal.

How to Know If a Loved One is Abusing Ativan

If you suspect that a loved one is abusing a prescription drug like Ativan, the first thing you should do is watch out for some of the main signs and symptoms, like the ones we have described above. However, unless you are a medical professional, it may be hard for you to notice these symptoms unless they have become severe.  There are other factors you can watch out for, as detailed below.

  • You have noticed that they suddenly take too many pills, especially a type of pill that you have no idea when, or why, it was prescribed.
  • They are always visiting pharmacies or seeking out a prescription from various doctors, even when there is no health reason to warrant doing this.
  • They are always preoccupied with getting more pills, and may even take them from other people without asking.
  • There have been complaints about their work productivity, or relationships with other people, that weren’t the case before.
  • They are more detached from the general public, but at the same time engage in risky activities that they wouldn’t normally take part in.
  • They suddenly get “sick” after a while, but suddenly get better after they have gone to take some pills.

If any of these factors are visible, your suspicions may have some basis. In this situation, the next thing you should do is talk to someone, to explore ways to get a more definitive evidence of the drug abuse, and then start looking for ways to convince the user to go through a drug abuse intervention. Remember, aggressive confrontation is usually counterproductive in the fight against substance abuse. Seek professional help, and make sure that the individual understands the dangers of continuing down the path of Ativan addiction and abuse.

How Ativan Abuse Affects You

As stated earlier, an addiction to Ativan doesn’t happen instantaneously. It only happens when you use the substance over an extended period of time. Even when you use Ativan exactly like your doctor has prescribed, you can still develop a tolerance to the drug, which can gradually push you towards taking higher doses just to get the same effects.  As you continue to increase the dosage, addiction will slowly set in.  Addiction can affect different people in different ways, but when you are addicted to Ativan, you will begin to isolate yourself from the public more and more, neglect work and family responsibilities, and then may also begin to experience legal and financial issues.  The signs of Ativan abuse will become more visible as the addiction grows. You will gradually see your life revolving completely around the use of the drug, as you struggle to maintain control over it.  If you have gotten to this stage, you will find it very difficult to quit using on your own.  It is now time for you to seek treatment. You could well be saving your life! To find out how your addiction can be treated, speak to your doctor, or an addiction professional.

Ativan Abuse Treatment

The withdrawal symptoms from Ativan can be dangerous. This why anyone that has used Ativan for a long period of time is advised to undergo medically supervised treatment. Such treatment often includes gradual withdrawal from the drug, because suddenly stopping use can trigger several symptoms, and possibly lead to severe complications. Many people have spoken about harrowing experiences during their attempts to treat Ativan abuse on their own.  Quitting ‘cold turkey’ has been known to trigger severe panic attacks in some moderate cases, and seizures in more severe ones.  Withdrawal symptoms can kick in within a few hours after your last use and can include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Increased heart rate (tachycardia)
  • Insomnia
  • Convulsions
  • Aggression and agitation
  • Seizures

Supervised detox is generally used by professionals to monitor your reactions during the entire treatment process. This is the best way to ensure the safety and the success of treatment. During the process, medical management can be deployed, using longer-acting sedatives to prevent the occurrence of seizures.

At the end of detox, your treatment provider will refer you to either an inpatient or outpatient treatment programme. This is done after your options have been analysed to find a programme that is the perfect fit for your personal needs and goals.

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Outpatient treatment programmes are facilitated in a way to ensure flexibility. This is beneficial for people that have to work or spend time with their family.  Some of the things you will see in this type of programme are: daily check-in programmes, which require you to attend a short session with a drug abuse counsellor daily. This will help you to stay focused on the recovery process without any impact on your daily life. You may have to spend up to 8 hours a day on the programme, during which you will attend group therapy sessions and educational lectures on drug abuse and treatment.

Inpatient treatment programmes, on the other hand, require you to stay indoors for the duration of the programme. You will live at the facility for around 30 to 90 days. At this point, you will take part in a variety of therapy sessions, including group therapy and individual therapy.

The individual and group-level psychotherapy sessions you have to go through during rehab will vary from one place to another. In a one-on-one cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) session, the therapist will talk with you, and help you to identify the thought processes and reasons behind your substance abuse. CBT is strongly based around the learning processes, and the theory that your abuse of Ativan is a coping mechanism for something else, such as stress.  After understanding the underlying causes of your Ativan abuse, focus shifts to the development of strategies and coping mechanisms, that will replace the need for the drug. This could be taking part in activities as simple as taking a walk or calling a friend for support.  CBT is one of the most effective elements of addiction rehab, because it has been proven to have a permanent impact in many cases. You may end up using the strategies learnt in CBT to remain sober and also make better life choices in general.

Another important element of treatment and rehab is the 12-step programme. This is an integral part of treatment in most rehab centres. It has come under fire in recent years, as many people debate the efficacy of it, especially the faith-based variants practiced in many rehabs. However, it can work for some. 12-step programmes are different from standard psychotherapy sessions.

In a 12-step programme, the sessions are led, and organised by, the group and not a psychotherapist. This is why the 12-step programme at the drug rehab you attend will most likely not be controlled by them, even if the meetings are hosted at the rehab centre.

The bulk of sober people that work in and around 12-step groups are also usually recovering addicts that have volunteered to help others to complete their recovery process. This is also why 12-step groups are considered, by some, to be an important part of the aftercare routine in most rehab programmes.

Family therapy is another element of the rehab process that could be very beneficial. It is usually your family, and concerned individuals, that will notice your addiction and talk you into getting treatment. Many drug rehab centres have different family-related therapy sessions that will focus on helping everyone involved to get a better understanding of the addiction, and how to help you stay sober. Your family members will also be treated for codependency issues, if this is a problem, and ensure that any negative effects of your drug abuse, over time, are properly addressed.

Do you have symptoms of Ativan abuse? Do you need help with your recovery? Speak to your doctor or an addiction specialist today for immediate help.

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