Ativan Detox | What To Know About Lorazepam Detox

Medically Reviewed by Johnelle Smith, M.D. on October 4, 2021

Ativan, a brand name for lorazepam, is a prescription drug that can cause physical dependence. Detoxing from Ativan can be highly uncomfortable and may require medical attention and treatment.

How To Detox From Ativan

Stopping Ativan (lorazepam) very suddenly after a long period of Ativan use, or drug misuse, can cause physical and psychological symptoms. This is a sign of drug withdrawal.

Ativan detoxification, or detox, is a process of getting off Ativan and treating withdrawal. This may require tapering your dosage over a period of time in order to prevent serious symptoms.

Learn more about detoxing from benzodiazepines

What Causes Ativan Withdrawal?

Ativan withdrawal develops in people who have become physically dependent on Ativan. This can occur by taking Ativan regularly for at least one month or longer.

Signs of Ativan dependence include:

  • having to increase how much you take over time (tolerance)
  • feeling sick or unwell if you miss a dose
  • spending much of your time thinking about Ativan
  • feeling reliant on Ativan to get through the day

Ativan dependence can develop both in people who take this drug as prescribed for anxiety, as well as those who misuse the drug for non-prescribed purposes.

Who Needs Ativan Detox?

Ativan detoxification is a necessary step for anyone with Ativan dependence who is trying to stop taking Ativan or has developed drug addiction.

Side Effects And Symptoms Of Ativan Detox

Ativan belongs to a class of sedative drugs known as benzodiazepines or “benzos” for short.

Stopping benzodiazepines like Ativan all at once can cause a range of physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms—some of which can become severe.

Ativan withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • anxiety
  • depression
  • insomnia
  • dizziness
  • fatigue
  • hand tremors
  • irritability
  • restlessness
  • prickling or burning sensations
  • unusual movements
  • memory problems
  • difficulty concentrating
  • muscle twitching
  • nausea and vomiting
  • loss of appetite

Symptoms may be more severe if you stop Ativan “cold turkey,” or all at once. For this reason, doctors typically recommend gradually tapering off Ativan.

Tapering off Ativan may take several weeks or months, depending on how long you’ve been taking Ativan, the dosage, and other factors related to your health and drug use.

Severe Side Effects Of Ativan Detox

Quitting Ativan all at once, or without medical support, can cause very severe and potentially life-threatening symptoms in some people.

Severe side effects of Ativan detox may include:

  • hallucinations (seeing, hearing, or feeling things that aren’t there)
  • delirium
  • seizures
  • panic attacks
  • very fast heart rate
  • increased blood pressure
  • heart palpitations
  • thoughts of harming yourself
  • thoughts of suicide

With the help of a medical doctor or treatment program, these symptoms can be effectively prevented or treated.

Ativan Detox And Withdrawal Timeline

Withdrawal symptoms from Ativan may begin within as little as a few hours after your last dose. After the first two to three days, rebound anxiety and insomnia may set in.

Acute withdrawal is the first stage of the detox process. This can last from one to four weeks, on average. This is when symptoms reach their peak intensity.

After this, some symptoms, known as protracted withdrawal or post-acute withdrawal syndrome, may linger.

Protracted withdrawal can last weeks, months, or potentially years for those who have taken Ativan in high doses for a very long time.

Read more about Ativan withdrawal symptoms

Protracted Withdrawal From Ativan Detox

One of the biggest challenges of detoxing from Ativan is protracted withdrawal. This condition doesn’t affect everyone who detoxes from Ativan. But this can last for some time.

Protracted withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • difficulty concentrating
  • depression
  • rebound anxiety
  • insomnia
  • drug cravings
  • loss of interest
  • constant fatigue
  • memory problems

Treatment with behavioral therapy and substance use counseling may help with some of these symptoms, in addition to the support of a full addiction treatment team.

Risks And Dangers Of Ativan Detox

Getting off Ativan isn’t something that should be attempted alone — not if you’ve been regularly taking Ativan, or misusing it, for more than a few weeks.

Severe withdrawal symptoms, such as seizures and psychological distress, can occur if you stop taking Ativan too quickly.

Without the help of medical professionals, this could lead to relapse. For people with substance abuse issues, this can then perpetuate a harmful cycle of Ativan misuse.

Risk Factors For Severe Ativan Detox

Certain factors can place a person at higher risk for medical complications and other challenges during the Ativan detox process.

Risk factors for severe withdrawal include:

  • older age
  • severe drug dependency
  • regularly taking high doses of Ativan
  • co-occurring mental health issues
  • addiction to multiple drugs (e.g. alcohol, opioids)
  • poor overall health

People who are at high risk for severe acute withdrawal symptoms should be monitored closely in a clinical setting for a length of time to be determined by a doctor.

Ativan Detox Programs

Ativan is a drug that can become both physically and psychologically addictive. The best way to detox from Ativan is to seek professional treatment through a detox program.

Medical Detox For Ativan Abuse

Medical detox, or medically supervised detox, is an inpatient detox program. This is offered by detox facilities and some inpatient treatment centers.

Medical detox is the safest detox option for getting off Ativan.

What medical detox for Ativan can offer:

  • around-the-clock medical supervision
  • treatment for withdrawal symptoms
  • a calm environment for detox
  • enhanced safety with medical support on standby
  • treatment referrals for drug rehab

Outpatient Detox For Ativan Abuse

Outpatient detox is a type of detox program that does not involve staying overnight in a detox facility or rehab center. Instead, you’ll visit a doctor or treatment center daily.

What this can offer:

  • regular check-ins with a clinician
  • behavioral counseling services (e.g. cognitive behavioral therapy)
  • medication for withdrawal symptoms, as needed

Outpatient detox is not suitable for everyone who has developed Ativan dependence.

Due to potential dangers of Ativan withdrawal, and the risk of relapse, outpatient detox is not generally recommended for people with a history of Ativan abuse or addiction.

Ativan Detox FAQs

Find answers to frequently asked questions about Ativan detox and withdrawal.

Stopping Ativan cold-turkey is not recommended. If you’ve been taking Ativan regularly for at least one month, this could cause symptoms of withdrawal.

Severe symptoms of Ativan withdrawal, including seizures, can develop if you try to stop taking Ativan all at once without gradually reducing how much you take.

Detoxing from “benzos” like Ativan or Xanax is notoriously difficult. This can be a significant challenge to manage at home, particularly without a robust support system.

It’s important to seek medical advice from a doctor before making any adjustments to your Ativan dosage or trying to reduce your Ativan use.

The primary sign of addiction is continuing to use Ativan despite negative consequences or being unable to cut down on or stop using Ativan.

If you’re addicted, you may also feel physically or mentally unwell if you try to go more than a few hours, or up to two days, without taking a dose.

Read more about Ativan abuse and addiction

Ativan has a half-life of 12 to 16 hours. It can take up to five half-lives for a drug to be fully eliminated from your system.

However, most effects of a single dose of Ativan wear off within 10 to 24 hours.

Find Ativan Detox And Addiction Treatment Today

If you or a loved one is struggling with Ativan dependence or addiction, we may be able to help you find a detox program that can help you safely stop taking Ativan.

Call our helpline now to get information on available Ativan addiction treatment options and how to find a detox program for benzodiazepine withdrawal that’s right for you.

This page does not provide medical advice. See more

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Medically Reviewed by
Johnelle Smith, M.D. on October 4, 2021
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