Ativan (lorazepam) is a medication that doctors commonly prescribe for anxiety and insomnia. This benzodiazepine is highly addictive. People taking Ativan, and especially those who abuse it, may form a dependency on the drug.
When a person who is dependent on Ativan stops taking it, they tend to experience the following list of Ativan withdrawal symptoms:
Early (Acute) Symptoms Of Ativan Withdrawal
Early Ativan withdrawal signs start about 24 hours after a person’s last dose of the medication. They usually become the most severe after the third day has passed.
During this time, the following symptoms may occur:
- high blood pressure
- trouble concentrating
- mood swings
- panic attacks
- profuse sweating
- stomach pain
- weight loss
Late (Protracted) Symptoms Of Ativan Withdrawal
After the acute Ativan withdrawal symptoms have passed, the following protracted Ativan withdrawal signs will occur for about two weeks:
- suicidal thoughts
- mood swings
- benzodiazepine cravings
Other Signs Of Ativan Withdrawal
Besides the acute and protracted Ativan withdrawal symptoms, some people have reported rather unusual experiences while they attempted to detox from the medication.
The first one to know about is numbness on one side of the body that is similar to that which would occur if someone was having a stroke. Night sweats, nightmares, mental fog, and dizziness are common, too.
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But one of the scariest signs of withdrawing from Ativan is memory loss that strikes at random moments. For example, a person may be driving down a street for several blocks before realizing that they don’t remember the entire trip to their destination.
Since this medication is mainly prescribed for anxiety disorders, those who stop taking it may develop rebound anxiety right away. It is often more severe than what they have ever experienced, especially if they took Ativan or other benzodiazepines for a long time.
Rebound anxiety happens because this medication suppresses the central nervous system. When a person stops taking Ativan, their central nervous system starts working in full force again, and this is difficult to deal with.
Sometimes, the anxiety that a person has will be accompanied by other severe psychological symptoms, such as depersonalization, hallucinations, and crawling sensations on the skin.
Ativan is a sedative. Doctors sometimes prescribe it to people who have insomnia. Unfortunately, using it for a prolonged period of time for this purpose makes it difficult for someone to be able to fall asleep without it.
Going without sleep for too long causes severe physical stress on the body, but it can also affect the mind. Some people may notice that the psychological symptoms of Ativan withdrawal are worse when they haven’t gotten enough rest. No matter how tempting it is, sleep aids should not be taken during this time since they are highly addictive, too.
How Long Does Ativan Withdrawal Last?
This list of Ativan withdrawal symptoms are most intense during the first couple of weeks after a person stops taking the medication. Withdrawals usually ease up a few weeks after this, though. However, this isn’t the end of the withdrawal process.
Many people have reported that they have had delayed rebound anxiety, panic attacks, and insomnia that didn’t start until months after quitting use of Ativan. It is important to mention that it could take over a year before someone truly starts to feel better when detoxing from Ativan.
The time that it takes to get through the Ativan withdrawal process is usually dependent on how long someone took Ativan and whether they were prescribed other medications to help ease their symptoms. Any addictions to other illegal substances can affect the process as well.
Detox Programs For Ativan Withdrawal
Detox programs are essential for those who are withdrawing from Ativan because they provide medications that can help taper someone off the medication slowly. This extends the time that it takes to get through the process, but it is much safer because it allows the body to start adjusting to having a more active central nervous system.
Detox programs are also important because medical staff will be available to monitor a person’s physical and mental health. This is crucial to the treatment process for two reasons. First, one of the most dangerous side effects of Ativan is the likeliness of grand mal seizures, which have to be treated with special medications right away to prevent damage to the body and brain.
Secondly, Ativan withdrawal increases the risk of suicide attempts in some people because it can cause severe depression. There is a chance that a person withdrawing from Ativan could take their own life if they don’t have proper care and support.
Those who need help finding a detox program for Ativan withdrawal and followup addiction treatment can speak to one of our treatment specialists for more information.
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- ABC News —The Horrific Events of Tranquilizer Detox
- National Alliance on Mental Illness — Lorazepam (Ativan)