Ativan Withdrawal Treatment and Side Effects
Ativan Withdrawal Treatment. Ativan is a member of the benzodiazepine class of drugs and is commonly used for the treatment of seizure disorders and anxiety. It’s also used as a muscle relaxant and is effective by targeting the brain’s inhibitory neurotransmitters; releasing gamma-aminobutyric acid (GAMA). This results in decreased excitation levels in the brain due to the suppression of neuronal activity.
Ativan is a Schedule IV-classified drug, according to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration.
This indicates Ativan’s potential for abuse and developmental risk for physical dependency. Ativan’s stronghold on users makes physical dependence a reality for many users. Inevitably, withdrawals are bound to be experienced at some point for abusers and chronic users that stop using.
Ativan, or Lorazepam, is a brand-name prescription drug effective in the treatment of seizures, insomnia, and anxiety-based disorders. It’s among the most frequently prescribed medications in the country. Benzos, as many refer to them, are classified as central nervous system (CNS) depressants that cause a relaxing, sedate-like effect.
As such, developing tolerance and physical addiction to Ativan isn’t all that uncommon.
Dependence on Ativan can cause a myriad of adverse consequences. Recognizing your addiction and learning the signs of withdrawal will allow you to safely manage symptoms until treatment in an inpatient or outpatient setting at rehab begins.
Ativan withdrawal management is essential to long-term recovery. Many recovering hopefuls tackling Ativan addiction alone relapse as part of their effort to suppress undesirable symptoms (which prompts them to start using again).
In this Rehab South Florida-sponsored guide, you’ll learn about Ativan, the withdrawals it causes, and treatment options available to you or your loved one at our center, where many clients have overcome Ativan dependency with medication-assisted therapy and industry-leading support.
Introduction to Ativan – What you need to know
Between the years 1996-2013, benzo prescriptions rose by an astonishing 67%, from 8 to 13.5 million filled. In 2011 alone, US-based doctors wrote out more than 27 million Ativan prescriptions. As such, it’s not too surprising that Ativan misuse and dependency has become a problem. Ativan withdrawal management services are essential to our nation’s recovery from the Ativan addiction crisis. In 2016, over 500,000 people in the US were abusing sedatives, including Ativan and other same-class medications.
Unfortunately, just as with a dependency to any other drug, Ativan addiction and withdrawals affect more than the user. Ativan withdrawals affect the recovering user but also the friends, family, and loved ones surrounding the user.
If currently using Ativan or have been for days or weeks, you’ll want to prepare for the withdrawal symptoms that will surely follow.
Ativan withdrawals are rather uncomfortable for the user. In many cases, Ativan users will intake Ativan for years while never realizing they have become dependent. If you’re an Ativan user, it’s safe to say you know what it feels like to crave an Ativan when you’ve gone longer than usual without having one.
However, withdrawals are an entirely different animal. There are many symptoms of Ativan withdrawal, and below we’ll be outlining them.
Signs and Symptoms of Ativan Dependence and Withdrawal
When benzodiazepines were first introduced, it was purposed for short-term use. Although, modern-day users tend to rely on long-term use of Ativan in order to treat insomnia, anxiety, and depression.
Even short-term use can lead to physical dependency. Taking Ativan for as little as three weeks can cause a physical addiction followed by mild to moderate-level withdrawals.
Roughly forty percent of benzo users that have been using for six or more months will encounter moderate to severe withdrawals if sudden cessation takes place. The remaining sixty percent experience mild symptoms.
Since the severity of withdrawals is dictated by the average dose taken and the frequency of use, symptoms are unique to the individual’s usage pattern. If taking a high dose of Ativan, or if dependent on mixing Ativan with other drugs, known as a comorbid dependence, symptoms of withdrawal will like to increase.
The sudden cessation of Ativan use can cause symptoms to emerge in as little as eight to twelve hours following the last dose.
During Ativan withdrawals, you can expect to feel unusually anxious. Irritability and short-fused temperament are also common-felt side effects of Ativan withdrawal. The anxiety one experiences when withdrawing from Ativan is usually worse than the anxiety first experienced preceding the first-time dose. Ativan withdrawal-induced insomnia can (and in many cases will) disrupt sleeping patterns. This can complicate the effects of withdrawal and may cause the recovering addict to believe their sleep regiment won’t return to normal.
Withdrawing from Ativan can also cause hand tremors, muscle aches, and pulsating headaches that last for hours at a time. Concentration may become difficult, the memory may become blurred, and anxiety levels may rise. In high-dose Ativan withdrawal cases, delirium grand mal seizures, and hallucinations are also prevalent.
Symptoms of Ativan withdrawal include:
• Hand tremors
• Muscle spasms
• Racing pulse
• Nausea or vomiting
• Aches and pains
• Panic attacks
• Hypersensitivity to stimuli
• Abnormal bodily sensations
• Issues with concentration/memory
• Visual disturbances
• Auditory, tactile, or visual hallucinations
• Feelings of unreality
• Grand mal seizures
Many research studies have described acute Lorazepam withdrawal as a process that peaks on day-two of withdrawal. By the fourth or fifth day, these withdrawals begin to plateau and subside. However, other research organizations, such as the World Health Organization, state that acute withdrawals can last longer, up to four weeks.
An estimated ten to 25 percent of long-term Ativan users will experience what’s referred to as “protracted withdrawal”. Protracted withdrawal involves the coming and going of usually-mild symptoms that last for months. While unpleasant, it’s a stage of withdrawal that typically tapers on its own within twelve months.
Relief and Coping Techniques for Ativan Withdrawal
The best approach to overcoming Ativan withdrawal is to avoid the “cold turkey” approach.
Time, planning, and patience is key to a successful Ativan recovery plan. Working with your doctor, staying in close touch with your therapist, and attending rehab is best for tapering down your dose. Tapering is the process of taking progressively smaller dosage amounts over a duration lasting weeks to months.
When tapering first begins, your physician may transition you from Ativan to long-acting benzo, such as diazepam. Longer-acting drugs help to stabilize the recovering dependent and will ease withdrawal symptoms, making a near symptom-free journey possible.
It’s important to understand that no universal tapering regiment exists, every case is unique. The higher your average dose amounts were, the greater your first-time dose reduction will be.
Once stabilized with the help of a lower dose using diazepam, your physician will reduce the dose weekly by roughly ten to twenty percent. In some cases, the doctor will only prescribe the medication in small one-time doses to prevent the patient from intaking more than they’re prescribed.
Those using Ativan for longer than six months are highly encouraged to follow the tapering model; it’s the safest way to stop using the drug. While tapering helps Ativan withdrawals to subside, it won’t diminish symptoms entirely. Withdrawals may be experienced during each dose reduction.
There are methods for coping with these symptoms, including:
• Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Stages of Ativan Withdrawal
Doctors and addiction-treatment physicians always advise Ativan dependent to avoid quitting using the “cold turkey” approach, as it can be dangerous. Ativan dependents that attempt to quit without tapering will likely experience rather severe withdrawals, including, but not limited to, hallucinations, seizures, and even psychotic reactions.
There are two levels of benzodiazepine withdrawal: protracted withdrawal and acute withdrawal. Acute withdrawal simply referred to as “withdrawal”, includes both psychological and physical symptoms.
Common Ativan acute withdrawal symptoms include Cravings
Insomnia, irritability, hand tremors, sweating, difficulty concentrating, confusion, nausea or vomiting, abdominal cramps, headache, muscle pain or stiffness, anxiety, mood swings, blood pressure changes, rapid heart rate, palpitations, weight loss, and panic attacks.
These symptoms are the make medically-supervised Ativan detox essential to prevent severe withdrawal symptoms. Professional detox will also reduce the chances of rare, adverse, and life-threatening symptoms from emerging.
Protracted Ativan withdrawal, or post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS), is the persistence of withdrawal symptoms, usually psychological, that occur once the withdrawal is over. Protracted withdrawal isn’t something all prior users experience.
Common symptoms of Ativan withdrawal include depression/dysphoria, cravings, anxiety, difficulty with concentration, insomnia, lack of interest in once-enjoyed activities, unable to experience pleasure, continually tired, obsessive-compulsive behaviors, and memory retention issues.
Rebound Ativan Symptoms
Rebound withdrawals are more common than not throughout the Ativan withdrawal timeline. Rebound symptoms are characterized by the return of conditions (such as insomnia and anxiety) that caused the recovering dependent to begin using in the first place. Rebound insomnia or anxiety usually emerges within two to three days following detox treatment for acute Ativan withdrawal.
Most individual’s attempting to recover from Ativan dependency will relapse as they’re unable to properly manage these symptoms alone. Roughly, ten to 35% of those in detox for Ativan withdrawal treatment encounter rebound symptoms. By tapering off from Ativan at a rehab, these rebound symptoms can be effectively managed and alleviated through various, science-backed treatment protocols that directly address symptoms from all possible angles.
Ativan Withdrawal Timeline
The duration in which Ativan withdrawals last varies from person to person.
Usually, those that take high doses, use it frequently, and take it for longer durations will experience more severe withdrawals that last longer.
With Ativan being an intermediate-duration medication, it usually leaves the user’s system within 12 hours.
Full-on Ativan acute withdrawals typically last for ten days to two weeks, gradually easing over time. In cases more severe, withdrawals may persist for months. Unfortunately, due to research limitations, there’s no set timeframe for how long protracted withdrawal from Ativan lasts.
Some prior Ativan users have reported experiencing withdrawals for a few months while others for a couple of years. An adverse effect of protracted withdrawal is that the recovering dependent may begin to feel as if they cannot enjoy life without Ativan. These withdrawals are best addressed and treated in recovery so relapsing can be avoided.
Day 1-3: Acute withdrawals, including nausea and headaches, will usually begin within 24 hours following the last dose.
Days 4-7: During this phase of withdrawal, symptoms peak. The severity of symptoms will vary from person to person and can cause irritability, cravings, and tremors.
Days 8-14: Symptoms of acute Ativan withdrawal begin to subside (usually) during this recovery phase. Once acute withdrawals end, within two to three days, rebound symptoms will take place and can include insomnia, high blood pressure, and an increased heart rate.
Days 15+: At this point, the worst of withdrawals have subsided and rebound symptoms have usually ended. Any symptoms lingering after two weeks should be rather mild in nature.
Medically-assisted detox is the best recovery route for those dependent on Ativan or other benzodiazepines. Medication-assisted therapy, which is offered at our facility, helps to reduce, and in some cases, eliminate Ativan withdrawal symptoms altogether. This makes recovery a more manageable and comfortable process and increases the recovery rate of those pursuing lifelong recovery.
Professional detox is the safest approach to recovering from benzo dependency as the prior Ativan dependent will be monitored during detox by a physician that can intervene and administer treatments in the event of an unexpected medical emergency.
For the best chances of long-term recovery, current or prior Ativan users are best treated in an inpatient or outpatient setting. Rehab South Florida’s Ativan detox program eases the recovery process and provides a safe and more comfortable journey. Our facility also equips clients with the tools, skills, and coping mechanisms required to manage emotions and other side effects that otherwise could’ve impeded the recovering Ativan user’s recovery goals.
Our treatment program connects Ativan dependents with the therapy and support that has proven to be essential for recovery.
If you, a friend or loved in struggling with an Ativan dependency, contact one of our friendly and knowledgeable admission specialists by calling 561-933-5522. With a convenient location and generous coverage-acceptance policy, access to treatment has never been easier.
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