Ativan Detox Symptoms, Timeline, Medications and Treatment
- Why is Detox Necessary for Recovery?
- Is Detox from Ativan Dangerous?
- Medically Assisted Detox and Withdrawal
- What to Expect During Ativan Detoxification
- Ativan Detox Treatment
- Choosing the Best Ativan Detox Center
What is Ativan?Ativan is the brand-name version of a medication called lorazepam. It belongs to a class of drugs known as benzodiazepines, which are commonly used to treat anxiety. Unfortunately, benzodiazepines are among the most widely abused classes of drugs and have a high risk for dependency.
Why is Detox Necessary for Recovery?
Physical dependency is generally characterized by an increasing tolerance to the drug in question, meaning that a higher amount is needed in order to achieve the same effects.
Behavioral-based therapy and medication should follow detoxification.Detoxification is the process of allowing the body to rid itself of a drug. It's often accompanied by withdrawal, which is the set of symptoms the body experiences when long-term use of a drug is abruptly discontinued.
The unpleasant symptoms that arise throughout the period of withdrawal impart a high risk of relapse for people undergoing detoxification, so making it through this process is an important step to recovery.
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The National Institute on Drug Abuse cautions that detoxification should be followed up with behavioral-based therapy and medication in order for it to constitute real treatment.
Detox and withdrawal can be a difficult and sometimes dangerous process, and should be closely monitored by medical professionals.
Is Detox from Ativan Dangerous?
When it comes to detoxifying from a benzodiazepine like Ativan, some physical withdrawal symptoms can be quite dangerous. Some rare but severe Ativan withdrawal symptoms include:
- Increases heart rate
- Convulsions and seizures (can be life threatening)
In general, detoxification is made even more dangerous because of the risk of relapse. Since the withdrawal process accompanies detoxification, some patients may find withdrawal symptoms so distressing that they feel compelled to go back on the drug.
Benzodiazepines like Ativan, in particular, have a high risk of relapse because their withdrawal symptoms often include:
- Rebound anxiety
- Return of other conditions the drug was originally used to treat
These psychological symptoms may become so severe that some patients choose to return to the drug in order to escape them.
Given Ativan's potential for extreme withdrawal symptoms, possibility of rebound anxiety or insomnia, and the risk of relapse, detoxification should be closely monitored by medical professionals. Self-detox is not recommended.
Why Detoxing at Home Can Be Harmful
One of the biggest reasons to avoid detoxing at home is the risk of relapse. Withdrawal can be a difficult process to endure, particularly if rebound symptoms occur.
Detoxing under close medical supervision can ensure that the patient has quick access to psychological care if he or she experiences rebound anxiety during the withdrawal process.
This kind of treatment can help patients make it through detoxification without going back on the drug.
Because Ativan's withdrawal process has sometimes been associated with dangerous
symptoms, such as seizures, it's doubly important to be closely monitored while undergoing detoxification in case a medical emergency arises.
Medical professionals can also help patients detox over a safe period of time. Patients who detox at home may be tempted to quit "cold turkey," or abruptly stop taking the drug altogether.
Abrupt cessation is associated with worse withdrawal symptoms and is not recommended. Rather, the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends tapering off use of the drug over a period of time in order to minimize withdrawal.
Medically Assisted Detox and Withdrawal
Abruptly discontinuing your Ativan use can cause withdrawal symptoms to be more severe, so the FDA recommends a tapered approach supervised by medical professionals, in which the patient is gradually weaned off the drug.
Flumazenil is one commonly prescribed benzodiazepine antagonist - a drug that blocks benzodiazepine binding at the GABA receptor, negating the effects on the brain.
Flumazenil can help to prevent a fatal overdose and will hasten the detox process as it sends an individual into almost immediate withdrawal. It's use is guarded as it may increase the risk of seizures.
Additionally, psychological therapies have been shown to have positive results.
Cognitive behavioral therapy may be recommended to help with detoxing from Ativan.Cognitive behavioral therapy is often recommended to help patients maintain abstinence from the drug. Psychiatric treatment may also help patients deal with the psychological symptoms that can arise from an Ativan withdrawal.
Some rapid detoxification methods have been proposed. A 2014 study proposed using a class of drugs known as acetylcholinesterase inhibitors in rapid detox treatment of benzodiazepines.
But in general, the National Institutes of Health warn against rapid detox programs, particularly for benzodiazepines.
What to Expect During Ativan Detoxification
In general, the first step in detoxification is working out a taper schedule in order to wean off the drug. Some doctors recommend switching to an equivalent dose of a different intermediate or long-acting benzodiazepine in place of the original drug and then started the tapering process; particularly for outpatient treatments.
Withdrawal tends to set in within a few days. You may notice withdrawal symptoms including:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Dizziness or tremors
Once withdrawal sets in, some medications may be prescribed to help with symptoms.
- Pregabalin or Valproate (or other anti-convulsant):
- Treats severe symptoms.
- Relieves neuropathic pain and prevents seizures.
During detox, you may notice some psychiatric symptoms arise as well, such as:
- Panic attacks
Some of these may resemble symptoms you experience before going on the drug, since Ativan is commonly used to treat anxiety. Therapy sessions may also be useful in controlling these symptoms, and some doctors may prescribe antidepressants in severe cases.
How Long Does Detox Last?
The length of a detoxification program may depend on the tapering schedule recommended by your doctor, and is likely to be longer if you're going through an outpatient program.
A 2015 literature review on benzodiazepine dependence and withdrawal suggests that 4-10 weeks is standard for a detoxification schedule.
Ativan Detox Treatment
Detoxification treatment can be conducted either through an inpatient or outpatient program.
Once you've entered a program, the next step will be to discuss your detoxification schedule. Depending on the dosage of Ativan you've been taking, your doctor will likely choose to decrease your dose by a set amount each week, such as by 20 or 50 milligrams.
This will go on until you're able to go off the drug entirely. While this is going on, you may be prescribed medications, such as the ones mentioned above, to help control your symptoms.
Your treatment center may also offer cognitive behavioral therapy or psychiatric treatment sessions to help control cravings and manage psychological symptoms.
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Choosing the Best Ativan Detox Center
program is best, there are other options to consider. Some inpatient programs cater to specific groups or interests, such as:
- Women only
- LGBT friendly
- Luxury programs
These programs may be more expensive, however, so it's important to consider costs and consult with your health insurance company, if applicable.