Ativan Addiction Signs, Symptoms, Effects and Help
What is Ativan?Every year, 40 million adults--18% of the population--struggle with anxiety disorders.
Ativan, the brand-name version of the drug Lorazepam, can help combat the ceaseless distress that anxiety brings. For many users, though, the drug becomes progressively more addictive over time.
Ativan's capacity to induce a powerful state of relaxation makes it a popular recreational drug. With millions of people receiving prescriptions for this potent drug each year, most addicts can easily get a handful of pills from a friend.
Some even fake anxiety symptoms to get a doctor to prescribe the drug.
Signs and Symptoms of Ativan Abuse
Ativan helps ease anxiety symptoms by slowing down activity in your brain and spinal cord.
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Ativan, Klonopin, Valium and Xanax belong to a class of drugs called benzodiazepines. These drugs are some of the most well-studied prescription drugs around, so doctors have a keen understanding of how they affect the body.
Some of the immediate symptoms of Ativan abuse include:
- Frequent sleepiness.
- Changes in mood or energy level.
- Difficulties concentrating, driving, or operating heavy machinery.
- Changes in sleeping and eating habits.
- Dilated or shrunken pupils.
- Slurred patterns of speech.
- Depressed mood.
Effects of Ativan Abuse
Some of the long-term side effects of Ativan addiction include:
- Sudden death and accidental overdose, especially when Ativan is mixed with other drugs.
- Personality changes.
- Long-term memory problems.
- Loss of intelligence.
- Brain damage.
- Increasing anxiety; this paradoxical effect is especially common among long-term users.
- Excessive sleepiness and other changes in sleep patterns.
- Unexplained muscle aches and pains.
- Relationship problems.
- Loss of a job, relationship or academic opportunity.
Combining Other Substances
Because Ativan slows down activity in your central nervous system, mixing it with any other drug is dangerous.
Alcohol can compound the effects of Ativan, leading to:
- Slowed breathing.
- Loss of consciousness.
- Possible death.
Even a glass of beer or two can be dangerous, so it's wise to abstain completely from alcohol while taking Ativan.
Other drugs also pose dangerous risks, but the specific effects depend on the drug.
Stimulant drugs can counteract some of the effects of Ativan while simultaneously interfering with your judgment, affecting your heart rate, or altering your rate of respiration.
Tell your doctor about any drugs you take, including over-the-counter medications, if you are prescribed Ativan.
How is Ativan Abuse Diagnosed?
Ativan abuse might look like a choice, but over time, this drug changes the way your body and mind behave, giving rise to a powerful chemical dependency.
It is this dependency, in conjunction with continuing to use Ativan in spite of serious risks or negative outcomes, that constitutes addiction.
It's tempting to label Ativan a safe drug. After all, thousands of doctors write prescriptions for it each year. Ativan is a prescription drug precisely because of its potential to be dangerous, however.
To safely take Ativan, you'll need routine monitoring by your doctor.
Lying to your doctor, taking more than the prescribed dose, or using Ativan recreationally all increase your odds for developing an addiction.
Who is at Risk for Ativan Addiction?
Anyone can develop an Ativan addiction, but some factors put certain people at risk.
Prolonged use of the drug is ultimately the biggest risk factor for Ativan addiction. Some users accidentally become addicted after years of taking the drug without a break. Others get hooked fairly quickly, and may not even realize they have an addiction until they try to stop.
An anxiety disorder is a significant risk factor. Anxiety makes Ativan a more tempting option for would-be recreational users and increases the likelihood of receiving a prescription for the drug.
Mental illness is itself a risk factor for drug use. About half of all people who struggle with mental illness eventually succumbing to addiction.
Personal and Family History
A history of trauma, a family legacy of addiction, chronic stress, and a prior history of addiction all further increase your odds of developing an addiction to Ativan.
When to Seek Help
Find a Meeting Narcotics Anonymous offers a 12-step approach to recovery from prescription drugs such as Ativan. Find a meeting near you. If you're concerned about your use of Ativan, you need to know that there's no right time to seek help. Ativan addiction typically gets worse with time, so the longer you delay treatment, the more difficult treatment may become.
Some sure signs that you are an addict in need of treatment include:
- Requests from people you love and respect to seek help.
- Experiencing health problems related to Ativan.
- Anxiety or depression that gets worse.
- Physical or psychological withdrawal in between doses.
- Mixing Ativan with other drugs.
- No longer getting the same effects you once got from Ativan.
Help for Addicted Friends and Family
Many Ativan users spin a web of lies, leaving their loved ones unsure of what to think or do. Addiction is a disease, not something anyone willingly chooses. This means that those in your life suffering from addiction deserve compassion, not judgment.
Those addicted to Ativan cannot be forced into recovery. While interventions can help encourage them to seek help, you need to be prepared to set clear boundaries if the person you love is
unwilling to get sober.
It may be painful to say no to someone you love, but you do those addicted no favors by giving them money for drugs or providing a place to stay.
Some suffering from addiction need to hit "rock bottom" before they're willing to seek help, and offering help only makes having an addiction easier--thereby decreasing the addict's incentive to seek help.
Ativan Rehab and Treatment
If you or someone you love is ready to kick Ativan for good, you may be surprised by the myriad treatment options at your disposal.
For treatment to work, it should comport with your values and fit into your lifestyle, so don't be afraid to ask lots of questions.
You don't have to pick the first facility you find, and you're fully entitled to keep looking till you find a place that feels right.
Teen Ativan Abuse and Addiction
Teen abuse of prescription drugs has increased 33% since 2008, in spite of national campaigns to draw awareness to the issue.
For many teens, prescription drugs offer an easy high since mom, dad, grandma or grandpa may have a number of prescriptions in their medicine cabinet.
Punishment won't dissuade an addict from using. Teens with drug addictions need drug treatment.You can reduce your child's access to these drugs by:
- Keeping them secured.
- Occasionally counting your pills.
- Disposing of any drugs you no longer need.
If your teen has a problem with Ativan, don't treat it as a discipline problem.
No amount of punishment will dissuade someone suffering from addiction from using, and teens have a knack for getting access to even the most inaccessible of drugs. Instead, teens with drug addictions need drug treatment.
For many teens, inpatient rehab is an excellent option because it removes them from peer pressure and offers a relief from any other stresses they face.
No matter what option is right for your teen, though, remember that prompt treatment can save his or her life. Drug addiction stunts brain development, so delaying treatment for your child's drug addiction is akin to playing with fire.