Currently in the United States according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the disease of addiction costs the country approximately $740 billion each year. This is the combined total loss of work productivity, costs related to crime, and in health care related to addiction. The United States is in the midst of a drug crisis, with more people than ever struggling with addiction.

Lorazepam, or brand-name Ativan, is one particularly addictive substance that many people find themselves unable to stop using on their own. Ativan addiction can cause numerous issues in physical, emotional, and financial areas of an individual’s life. Even worse, when attempting to stop abusing the prescription drug, people find many roadblocks making it difficult, if not impossible, to stop taking the medication. As a benzodiazepine, Ativan use cannot simply be stopped cold turkey. It requires special addiction treatment to safely come off of the medication.

What Is Ativan?

Ativan, as mentioned before, is a benzodiazepine. This means like other benzos, it changes the chemistry of the brain and body. With prolonged use, it causes both a physical and psychological addiction which can wreak havoc on the individual.

Ativan affects the body similarly to alcohol. Ativan works by changing the way in which the brain produces GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). This is a neurotransmitter responsible for neuronal excitability throughout the nervous system. It sends messages through the brain and nervous system while also regulating communication between various brain cells. 

GABA is intended to inhibit or lessen the activity in brain cells. It plays a key role in behavior, cognition, and your response to stress. This is what makes benzodiazepines such as Ativan effective in treating various disorders such as anxiety, depression, and insomnia. 

Ativan works by binding to the GABA receptors on nerve cells and mimics the effects of GABA. Over time, the brain will begin adjusting its own natural production of GABA with the presence of Ativan in the system, making it dependant on the medication to function properly.

Suddenly stopping or lowering your dosage of Ativan can result in nasty side effects. This will send the body into Ativan withdrawal, which can result in serious and life-threatening withdrawal symptoms such as seizures. This is what makes receiving proper detox crucial and at-home detox so dangerous. 

Ativan is a prescription medication. Many people can develop an Ativan addiction inadvertently simply by taking the medication as prescribed for a long period of time, or they may be enticed to abuse it. It produces a calming, euphoric effect, which is what Ativan addicts seek out when taking the medication.

Since the withdrawals from benzodiazepines addiction are so dangerous, it’s important to identify Ativan addiction symptoms quickly and receive proper addiction treatment to stop using it successfully. Read on to learn more about Ativan addiction symptoms so as to recognize it in yourself or others. 

What are the Signs of Ativan Addiction?

Ativan addiction symptoms are fairly similar to those of all benzodiazepines. The idea behind addiction, or a substance use disorder, is that it is individual and unique in every addict. This means that there are varying levels of severity and different symptoms that may or may not manifest in each person.

Some of the more commonly noted Ativan addiction symptoms are:

  • Depression
  • Tremens
  • Dysphoria
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty with memory
  • Muscle spasms
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Motor impairment
  • Feeling lightheaded
  • Sensitivity to sound, touch, and light
  • Having sensations of numbness
  • Hallucinations
  • Smell sensitivity
  • Muscle pain
  • Mood swings
  • Drowsiness

If you believe you or a loved one are struggling with an Ativan addiction, and have noticed various Ativan addiction symptoms, it is time to seek addiction treatment. Proper addiction treatment will not only avoid the troubling Ativan withdrawal symptoms that will manifest after stopping the medication but also help you work out the underlying issues behind your substance use disorder so as to act as a form of relapse prevention. 

Read on to learn more about addiction treatment and how it can work to safely get you or your loved one out of the grip of an Ativan addiction. 

What is Involved in Ativan Addiction Treatment?

If you have decided that you are struggling with an Ativan addiction, then proper addiction treatment is the next step in your journey to recovery. By completing all of the various levels of care at a drug rehab, you can successfully overcome your addiction.

The full continuum of care refers to all of the varying levels of addiction treatment. They start out with higher levels of clinical and medical intervention and slowly allow for more freedom and personal responsibility as you descend the levels. This allows for the appropriate amount of clinical and medical care correlated to where you’re at in recovery. As you become more stable and capable of staying clean on your own, you’ll be able to have more freedom in your life.

The full continuum of care is the most effective way to complete addiction treatment. Only receiving detox or only doing an outpatient program can set you up for failure for not adequately supplying you with sufficient treatment on both the physical and psychological aspects of addiction. The disease has an impact on body and mind, so only treating one portion does not completely treat the disease as a whole. 


The first step in proper addiction treatment is detox. This stage has the highest level of medical and clinical care with its primary focus on medical stabilization after prolonged drug and alcohol use. The goal is to safely and comfortably navigate you through the detox process and prepare you for clinical treatment in later levels of care.

Upon your arrival at detox, you’ll undergo a medical assessment that looks at your addiction and your overall physical health. Following this assessment, the medical team (doctors, nurses, and medical support staff) will then create an individualized detox plan. This typically includes various detox medications designed to combat any detox side effects you may encounter during your stay.

You will also have access to a clinical team. This team is made up of therapists, case managers, and support staff who will provide initial therapy sessions and emotional/psychological support during this difficult time. Providing this support can begin treatment for the mental aspect of a substance use disorder that will intensify throughout treatment.


Following detox, you should continue your Ativan addiction treatment. Detox only addresses the physical aspect of an addiction, not the psychological. This means that only half of the problem has been treated. In order to avoid putting yourself at an increased risk of relapse, or returning to active addiction, you must continue on in the full continuum of care.

Inpatient or residential treatment is the next step. Here, you’ll live on-site at the facility and undergo full-time, rigorous therapy.

Every facility possesses a different curriculum of addiction therapies and features different amenities. Different types of addiction therapy will be offered, and they may have options for different programs like dual diagnosis treatment and other types of specialized addiction treatment. It’s crucial to consider what your needs are when it comes to Ativan addiction treatment.

Regardless of what different features and amenities you may have, the general idea of inpatient or residential treatment is the same. You will do the majority of the therapeutic heavy lifting during this stage, spending most of your time in therapy sessions.

Here you will learn different coping mechanisms, life skills, and relapse prevention techniques that you can take with you even after treatment ends. Since recovery is a lifelong process that continues even after you complete rehab, these are important concepts designed to set you up for success in long-term recovery. 

Intensive Outpatient

The next stage in the full continuum of care will be intensive outpatient (IOP). This level of care differs from inpatient since you go from a full-time curriculum of therapy to only part-time. You also no longer live at the facility, which means you’ll need to find alternative housing. This may come in the form of a sober living home (halfway house) or simply returning home.

Regardless of the living arrangements you may have, you’ll still need to attend therapy sessions throughout the week at the IOP facility. Here, you’ll have several IOP sessions per week, which are usually multiple hours long. You’ll still receive fairly intensive clinical intervention with group and individual therapy to help you acclimate to live outside of rehab.

Since you have more personal freedom and responsibility to your recovery at this stage in addiction treatment, you’ll be given weekly random drug tests. This will help ensure that you’re staying on track in your recovery and are abstaining from drugs and alcohol in your free time. 

IOP typically can go up to several months, making these programs fairly short and sweet. However, they are very effective in helping act as a buffer between your early recovery and the potential relapse risks that exist in the community at large. 


After IOP comes routine outpatient programs. These programs are similar to IOP in that you still must find alternative housing and commute to sessions, but the number of hours spent in therapy each week greatly diminishes. In fact, outpatient usually only occurs for a single one-hour session per week.

The idea behind outpatient is to make the final transition from the safety of an inpatient drug/alcohol rehab program into society at large as a sober person. By this point in benzodiazepine addiction treatment, you should be fairly stable and capable of handling the majority of the responsibility for your recovery. However, having support from your outpatient program and drug testing may be helpful in ensuring you stay on track.

Many people utilize 12-step programs and alumni programs in tandem with outpatient programs. This compounds the amount of support you’ll have during your recovery as you re-emerge into the world as a newly sober individual. Since outpatient lasts far longer than IOP (IOP only six to eight weeks; outpatient several months), it provides long-lasting support well into your recovery when you can successfully handle all of the responsibility to your program.

How Dangerous Is Ativan?/Ativan Overdose

Ativan like all other benzos can be extremely addictive and dangerous. Due to its nature to alter the brain chemistry of the individual, it can lead to intense withdrawal symptoms and present a high potential for overdose.

Ativan suppresses the nervous system and acts as a depressant, meaning breathing and heart rate slow. If combined with other drugs like alcohol, it can depress the system too much, causing the individual to lose consciousness and eventually stop breathing. Ativan overdose can also be accomplished when taking too much of the medication at one time.

Ativan also causes a lapse in memory, meaning that people can easily blackout while under the influence of Ativan. This can lead to serious injury or other complications that occur during this blackout stage. Avoiding taking too much Ativan is important since it can cause serious damage to the body and even result in life-threatening overdose.  

Ativan Abuse Statistics

  • According to SAMHSA, benzodiazepine abuse treatment admissions have tripled from 1998 to 2008.
  • According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), in 2015 9,000 individuals died as a result of benzodiazepine overdose.

According to the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, in the 17 years between 1996 and 2013, the number of adults with benzodiazepine prescriptions grew by two-thirds, from 8.1 million to 13.5 million people.

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