Among many prescribed drugs being abused these days, Ativan or Lorazepam is one of them. Ativan, when taken at the right dosage, can be helpful but if the person is addicted, it can eventually cause physical and emotional discomfort the moment he or she decides to stop using.
What is Ativan?
Mostly known as Lorazepam, Ativan is a prescribed tranquilizing medication which is sometimes called the sedative-hypnotic or anxiolytic drug. This type of drug belongs to benzodiazepines and is used to treat persons with insomnia, status epilepticus and anxiety symptoms. Patients with manic bipolar, restlessness, muscle spasms, nausea and vomiting related to cancer drugs and chemotherapy are also given Ativan to help them relax. It can also be given to patients before surgery in order to make them sleep, as well as patients with symptoms of alcohol withdrawal and psychosis associated with sudden withdrawal from alcohol. This drug usually comes in two forms; tablet or IV solutions or injections.
The Side Effects of Ativan
Like any medication, Ativan also poses mild to serious side effects. However, the most common side effects include drowsiness, dizziness, and weakness of the body. Depending on the dosage and effects of the medication to the person, some people may also experience the following:
- Lack of coordination
On the other hand, people who received Ativan through injection may have pain at the injection site and redness, which is fairly common. These side effects can go away within a few days or weeks, depending on the dosage taken. In case the side effects occur more than expected, seeking medical attention right away is a must.
While the ones mentioned above are common side effects, there are also serious side effects to Ativan that you must take note of. Some of the side effects that you should watch out for are:
- Slowed and labored breathing
- Respiratory failure
- Anxiety and depression
- Muscle weakness
- Body Aches
- Nausea and vomiting
- Severe allergic reactions or hives
- Swelling of the lips, face, and tongue
- Trouble swallowing or breathing
- Increased palpitations
- Suicidal thoughts
Now if you have felt any of these side effects, immediately contact a physician or seek emergency treatment. Ignoring these side effects could be a matter of life and death. If you have depression that is not treated, avoid taking Ativan as this will only worsen the feeling.
Because of its addictive components, many people become addicted to Ativan quickly. This is also the reason why prescribing the medication is needed in order to control the use of Ativan and is only used for short-term treatment which usually lasts for 3 to 4 months. Ativan can affect people in different ways; it could either control their panic attacks or make others feel the need to use the medication due to its sedating effects. In short, it could be a pleasurable experience for the user or it can cause hallucinations. Whatever the psychoactive effects of this drug are, it is clear that it is one of the most abused recreational drugs in the market today.
Signs that a Person is Addicted to Ativan
The truth is, it is not always easy to spot someone who is addicted to Ativan. While some can obtain and use this drug with a prescription, others may take it illegally and against medical advice. Often times the abuse goes unnoticed as many do it behind closed doors. Here are the most common signs and symptoms of Ativan abuse:
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Does not participate in former activities any longer
- Lies in order to hide Ativan use
- Passing out
- Uses Ativan as a coping mechanism
- Checks in with other doctors to get an additional prescription
Dependence on Ativan can develop quickly and could happen even to those with a prescription. If you experience severe anxiety and nausea upon withdrawal then it could be that you have developed a dependence on the medication. Once a person develops physical dependence, developing tolerance is sure to follow. This means that you will take more than the prescribed dosage to achieve a certain side effect. Psychological dependence is usually shown when cravings for Ativan are evident. It could happen when you crave to take Ativan after a period of not using or taking any. When this behavior continues, addiction is developed which can later put a strain on personal relationships and other responsibilities.
Staging an intervention is usually the best way to deal with Ativan addiction. While some are not aware of their condition, there are addicts who are aware of the problem and are in denial. Because of this, they have a hard time admitting that they have an addiction and often shut down any assistance given to them. However, if you feel you are developing an addiction to Ativan, it is best to seek help. Interventionist can help educate and guide you through the process and plan out the time and care you need. Getting a loved one involved during the intervention can also be helpful so your treatment is successful.
There is also medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for drug addicts, but MAT is not generally available for Ativan addiction since the treatment for this focuses more on psycho-behavioral therapy as part of the rehabilitation. Varying psycho-behavioral therapy techniques are also used to the patient based on the theories about what causes the person to use drugs when stressed. It is also the most effective approach since the treatment focuses on achieving and maintaining a drug-free mind. Among the most common therapies used in rehabs are:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Community reinforcement therapy
- Contingency management interventions
- Dialectical behavior therapy
- Motivational enhancement therapy
Cognitive-behavioral therapy or CBT works with individuals like you to help identify what lead to Ativan abuse. It can help you focus on learning processes and identifying stresses that could lead to the abuse of Ativan. Once this is acknowledged, you will then go through various strategies to cope with the stressors.
There are also 12-step programs that play an integral part in drug rehabilitation. These programs are usually synonymous with the recovery of a patient. In this program, the members organize and lead the group for therapy and not the psychotherapist. It is also an effective aftercare program that helps check in with the patients even after their rehab session is done.
The role of the family is also very important in the success of your rehab and therapies. There are many drug rehab centers that offer family-oriented services to help struggling addicts cope. There are group therapies for the family as well as education and on-site family activities where members and their families can participate. Many rehab centers encourage family members and other loved ones to know what individual psychotherapy is in order to heal from co-dependency as well as the painful effects of a loved one’s drug abuse.
So if you or someone you know is addicted to Ativan, it’s best to seek help immediately. Knowing the early signs and symptoms of Ativan addiction can save someone’s life and spare loved ones from the hurtful effects of drug addiction.