Ativan is a common brand name for the drug, lorazepam. Lorazepam belongs to a class of prescription medications called benzodiazepines. Other common benzos include Xanax and Valium. Ativan is normally prescribed to treat panic attacks and anxiety disorders in the United States.
Ativan acts directly on the central nervous system as a depressant to produce tranquilizing and calming effects. When taken as prescribed, the risks of adverse side effects, physical dependency, and addiction remain low.
When Ativan is snorted (insufflated) or taken in high doses, it is dangerous and addictive. Snorting Ativan may cause physical side effects, psychological side effects, and damage to the brain and body.
Side Effects Of Snorting Ativan
Ativan slows the central nervous system and causes sedation. These effects are helpful for individuals suffering from anxiety or panic disorder. Due to the drug’s addictive qualities and euphoric effects, Ativan is also sought out to abuse.
Addicted individuals who inhale the substance nasally do it because they believe the drug will quickly enter the bloodstream. However, this method of Ativan abuse places them at risk for damage to the nasal passages, brain, and body.
Snorting Ativan is dangerous for several reasons. It’s easy to lose track of the dosage, and this method of abuse increases risks of addiction, withdrawal symptoms, and death. Unfortunately, Ativan abuse has other short-term and long-term side effects, as well.
Short-Term Side Effects
Short-term side effects of Ativan abuse may develop faster when an individual snorts Ativan. Ativan has tranquilizing and sedative properties. Benzodiazepines are often used with other medications and drugs with abuse potential.
Toxic effects caused by Ativan abuse are enhanced when ingested with alcohol, opioids, or other prescription medications. These side effects may be felt significantly faster when an individual snorts Ativan.
Side effects may include:
- suicidal thoughts
Side effects and addiction to Ativan may develop quickly when snorting the drug and when using higher doses, even after short-term use.
Long-Term Side Effects
People who abuse Ativan may use high or heavy doses of the drug over long periods of time. These individuals are considered to be at high risk for developing Ativan addiction and experiencing withdrawal symptoms.
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Long-term side effects associated with Ativan abuse include:
- damage to nasal passages and sinuses
- physical dependency
- withdrawal symptoms
In addition to short-term and long-term side effects, Ativan causes lasting changes to the brain. When the drug is abused, areas of the brain that control stress, anxiety, and irritability are destabilized. Over time, the addicted individual becomes increasingly reliant on the calming and sedating effects of the drug to regulate stress.
When an addicted individual attempts to stop taking the drug, chemical changes that occurred within the brain and body become apparent. Addicted individuals seek out the drug due to intense cravings, and to avoid uncomfortable physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms.
Ativan Addiction And Withdrawal
Addiction to Ativan can develop quickly and may cause severe side effects when stopping the medication. These side effects may occur after an individual has become physically dependent on high doses and chronic use of the drug. While dependency is one component of addiction, not all people who have an Ativan dependency will become addicted to it.
Important signs of Ativan addiction include:
- change in personality
- neglect of personal responsibilities
Ativan withdrawal symptoms occur when an addicted individual stops taking the drug. Characteristic symptoms of Ativan withdrawal such as anxiety, insomnia, and seizures may occur after high doses of Ativan are abruptly discontinued.
Symptoms of Ativan withdrawal range from mild to severe, and include:
- nausea and vomiting
- short-term memory loss
- intense drug cravings
Ativan withdrawal symptoms may be severe and life-threatening. Because of this, it is highly recommended that anyone with a physical dependence on Ativan consult with a medical professional before stopping the medication.
Getting Help For Ativan Addiction
Benzodiazepines are rarely the sole drug of abuse. It is estimated that 80 percent of benzodiazepine abuse includes other drugs, commonly opioids and alcohol.
When an individual becomes chemically dependent on Ativan, benzodiazepine withdrawal may be severe, and snorting Ativan can quickly lead to addiction or dependency. Without medical assistance, an addicted individual may struggle with an overreliance on Ativan, loss of self-confidence, and drug-seeking behavior for many years.
It is important that an individual addicted to Ativan has access to supportive services as they detox from the medication. Several treatment options and addiction treatment programs are available. Medical advice and treatments for Ativan addiction are based on the needs of the patient and may be performed on an inpatient and outpatient basis.
If you or a loved one have an Ativan addiction, or if you have any questions about the substance abuse programs, please connect with our treatment center through our helpline today.
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- National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) — Lorazepam (Ativan)
- The Journal of the American Family Physician — Addiction: Part I. Benzodiazepines—Side Effects, Abuse Risk and Alternatives
- U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) — Ativan