Ativan, otherwise known as Lorazepam, belongs to a class of drugs called benzodiazepines or benzos. The class of drugs treats anxiety, seizure disorders, and relaxes tense muscles. To add, benzodiazepines function as central nervous system depressants. They work by decreasing the firing of neurons and nerves in the brain and spinal cord.
On a neurological level, these drugs work by modifying the behavior of the neurotransmitter GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). This neurotransmitter functions as an inhibiting agent that when triggered, slows down the processes of the entire nervous system. In other words, benzodiazepines strongly and quickly aid in relaxation, as the neurotransmitters calm stress in the nervous system. As a result, they successfully help those who need it.
The type of benzos such as short, intermediate, or long-acting change the rate of the drug’s absorption. Furthermore, it changes the length of its effects on the person taking it. For some, benzo use can lead to the development of physical or psychological dependence if abused. All benzodiazepines are classified by the US Drug Enforcement Administration as Schedule IV controlled substances. This means they are only available with a prescription since they have a moderate risk for abuse.
What is Ativan?
Ativan is a benzodiazepine with a reputation as a high-potency drug providing immediate results. In this, it offers prompt relief in the treatment of anxiety, making it a sought out substance. Among its therapeutic effects, Ativan is popular due to producing a mildly euphoric state of relaxation. Even at very low doses, the drug creates strong effects, delivering on the intended results.
However, Ativan has a very short half-life. This means as rapidly as someone experiences the calming effects of the GABA-inhibitor, the effects will begin to quickly wear off. This is in contrast to other longer-acting benzodiazepines and increases the risks of abuse with this particular substance. Moreover, it can encourage ease in how fast one might find themselves caught up in addictive patterns.
For long-term users, the swift delivery of euphoric-producing effects can create a quick dependence on the substance. In the case of Ativan tolerances, individuals may discover a need to take more of the drug to achieve the same desired outcome. Even for short-term users, the risk of dependence is high. For this reason, there have been reports of individuals developing a physical dependence on Ativan in as little as a week. With Ativan abusers, a tolerance can develop when they unknowingly and routinely ingest dangerously high levels, which can be life-threatening. Fortunately, medically assisted detox is available to help heal this.
Symptoms of Ativan Withdrawal
Withdrawal occurs when your body learns to rely on an outside chemical in order to function normally, thus creating a “dependence”. When Ativan is no longer introduced in the system, the entire body needs to readjust and re-learn how to function without its presence. This is what produces the range of mild to significantly uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms one might experience when detoxing.
Although an individual will experience Ativan withdrawal on a small scale after each use, long-term use or abuse constitutes the presence of more intense withdrawal symptoms. Of course, the severity and duration will depend on previous patterns of use, including how much was used and for how long. Other mediating factors include relevant medical history and the presence of co-occurring mental health disorders.
Initial withdrawal symptoms include:
• Anxiety or mood swings
• Increased heart rate or blood pressure, or shallow breathing
• Hallucinations or confusion
• Tremors or muscle cramps
• Profuse sweating or fever
• Nausea and vomiting
Acute symptoms such as these generally last anywhere from 3 to 5 days to as long as 4 weeks. Symptoms tend to peak within 1 to 2 weeks of abstinence from the drug. After this timeframe, they generally taper off in their intensity. The potential for seizures makes Ativan withdrawal especially dangerous and requires experienced medical care.
After the initial detox of the drug, you may continue to experience post-acute withdrawal symptoms or PAWS for a longer period of time. Some of these symptoms may include:
• Rebound insomnia
• Low motivation or apathy
• Mood swings
Rebound Anxiety and Insomnia
The severity of the withdrawal symptoms and the presence of rebound anxiety make Ativan withdrawal especially difficult to manage. Rebound anxiety is defined as the temporary, enhanced return of the anxiety that was originally the cause for seeking treatment. Unfortunately, this presents a significant risk for relapse to individuals in the early withdrawal. This happens due to their inability to effectively manage this state. Furthermore, approximately 10% to 35% of individuals who detox from Ativan will experience rebound effects according to reports.
Despite this, tapering off the substance can help to manage rebound symptoms until professionals determine an alternative treatment. Having medical assistance from staff members who care and want to see you get better can be a lifesaver. You don’t have to face the consequences of Ativan withdrawal alone. Get the help you deserve to fight Ativan withdrawal. Contact us at MD Home Detox to discover how we can help you receive medically-assisted detox right from the comfort of home.