Ativan Addiction Treatment

When taken under a doctor’s supervision, Ativan can be a safe way to ease anxiety, prevent panic attacks, help you sleep, or control seizures. This medication is sometimes prescribed to control the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. Ativan, or lorazepam, belongs to a class of drugs called benzodiazepines, which depress the activity of the central nervous system to promote a state of calm and relaxation. Because lorazepam can be highly addictive, Ativan is usually prescribed only on an as-needed basis or for short-term use. The National Alliance on Mental Illness cautions that you may become physically dependent on lorazepam after only two weeks of taking the medication daily. If you’ve been using Ativan daily for non-medical reasons, you may need a professional detox program to cleanse your system of the drug.

How Ativan Addiction Begins


Like other benzodiazepines, Ativan exerts its relaxing effects by changing the way your brain produces certain chemicals. Dopamine is a powerful neurotransmitter that plays a vital role in the brain’s reward system. The brain releases this chemical in response to certain activities, like eating your favorite food or being intimate with a partner. Drugs like Ativan can also trigger the production of dopamine, filling you with a sense of well-being and contentment. Once your brain is accustomed to this response, you can become dependent on Ativan to generate these pleasurable feelings.

With continued use, you’ll need higher doses of lorazepam to produce the same levels of dopamine. This condition is known as tolerance, and although it doesn’t necessarily lead to addiction, it’s often where addiction starts. As your brain and body get used to the relaxing effects of Ativan, you may begin to rely on the medication whenever you’re stressed out, anxious or having trouble sleeping. You might even lose interest in the drug-free activities that you used to find soothing or pleasurable. The American Academy of Family Physicians advises that if you try to quit using Ativan, you may experience physical and psychological side effects, such as:

  • Rapid heart rate
  • High blood pressure
  • Tremors
  • Sleeping problems
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

You may have intense cravings for the drug and might find yourself going to great lengths to get Ativan. An addiction to lorazepam can drive you to lie, steal money, forge prescriptions and do other unethical things that you’d never have considered otherwise. A detox and rehabilitation program can help you get rid of the mask of addiction and rediscover your personal dreams and values.

Stages of Ativan Detox


You don’t have to commit to an addiction treatment program or go through rehab to detox from Ativan. But if you’re dedicated to getting clean and creating a more rewarding future in recovery, the support you gain in detox and rehab will bring you closer to these important goals. In Ativan detox, you may go through several stages:

  1. Developing a detox plan. You’ll go through a medical and psychological evaluation to gauge the extent of your dependence and identify any coexisting physical or psychological issues that might affect your recovery. Your treatment team will develop a plan to help you taper off benzodiazepines gradually, so your withdrawal symptoms are less severe.
  2. Cleansing your system. Your treatment team will monitor you through the early stages of detox as your body withdraws from the effects of benzodiazepines. You may receive pharmaceutical support to help you manage cravings and reduce the side effects of withdrawal.
  3. Getting you ready for rehab. In the initial phase of detox and rehab, you’ll have the opportunity to meet with counselors or therapists and self-help groups, so that you can start building a support system for the next phase in recovery.

At Alta Mira, we know that Ativan detox is one of the most important steps in building the life you really want. At this pivotal point, we’re here to provide the support you need to move on to rehab and recovery.