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Ativan Addiction – A Quick Guide on Signs and Symptoms

signs of ativan addiction

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Ativan (generic Lorazepam) is a fast acting drug people use as a short-term treatment solution for anxiety. Doctors do not recommend it for long-term use due to its potential for addiction. It is one of the most potent Schedule IV drugs available on the market.

Table of Contents

The DEA has five drug Classifications (Schedules). They base it on their medical usability and their risk of abuse. The DEA define a Schedule IV drug as “Low risk for abuse”. This is when comparing it with Schedule II (high risk) and Schedule III (less risk than II).” This Classification of IV can be misleading due to the ease of becoming an addict. Any drug can become addictive if misused. Therefore, Ativan is no different.
The Classifications of Drugs:

  • Schedule-one: Illegal-No medical use: Heroin, LSD, etc.
  • Schedule-two: Medical use-High risk: Oxycontin, Dilaudid
  • Schedule-three: Medical use-Less risk: Tylenol with Codeine
  • Schedule-four: Medical use-Low risk: Xanax, Valium, Ativan
  • Schedule-five: Medical use-Almost no risk: Robitussin AC, Phenergan with Codeine
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Ativan Addiction Definition

Ativan addiction occurs when people raise the tolerance level to excessive continuous use. This is because the dosage of prescription no longer works. The patient then feels the urge to take more and more just to function in a “normal” state. They become compulsive and regardless of the repercussions. As a result, getting the drug becomes the most important thing in their life.

Signs of Ativan Addiction

The following signs help to identify Ativan abusers:

  • Cravings- Is taking a pill their first thought in the morning when they wake up?
  • Have commitments and obligations lost their importance?
  • Things that used to be important just aren’t anymore?
  • Are they choosing to be alone more and more?
  • Is their money going to pills now instead of bills?
  • Do they need one pill almost immediately after another one?
  • Do they run out of the pills before the refill date?

Dangers of Ativan Addiction

Even if Ativan is in the Schedule IV of DEA, one still must take it with caution. Furthermore, a physician should be aware of medication use. The doctor should know all the other medications that one is taking, including the OTC (Over the Counter) drugs. This also includes the vitamin supplements. There may not be an allergic reaction to the Ativan drug itself. However, the inactive ingredients can cause dangerous side effects.
One should follow a doctor’s directions for taking the medication the proper length of time. Also, one shouldn’t stop taking it abruptly. This is because doing so can cause severe physical and mental withdrawals.
Long-term use of Ativan has shown to cause many mental problems. They include remembering, difficulty with learning new things, focusing/concentrating, and making decisions affecting everyday life. This impairment from an extended use can range from mild to severe and can be permanent. Furthermore, it can even happen after stopping taking the drug.

Handling Ativan Addiction


Ativan Addiction interventionCreate the group. Surround them with loved ones and above all, have an intervention specialist on the side. Getting professional help is the wisest thing to do. Also, plan carefully. One should be prepared for anger, denial, and other emotions they may exhibit. Of course, a person cannot control or predict how an addict will react. Anything can happen when they realize that an intervention is taking place.
The intervention specialist will be educating everyone on the perils of addiction and addiction recovery. One will need this knowledge as well as compassion.
The addicted person may not see how their actions are affecting other members of the family and their friends. This is because the chemicals in the brain have changed. By advising the addict of these hurts, they may have an epiphany of what has been happening.
Pick a time and a place. They should not feel threats from their surroundings. Putting the addict at ease is extremely important. The should not feel being boxed in or backed into a corner. If at all possible, it should take place at a time when the addict is sober.
One should set the expectations along with goals for recovery for the addict to meet after the intervention. In addition, they must know they will be held accountable if they do not continue with the treatment. They call it “Tough Love”. Also, those staging the intervention must be strong and consistent in carrying out what they have described as consequences.
Remember, the loved ones have to get to the place where they can admit that they have a problem. That is their first step!
It is important to remember also, that addiction is not just physical. The mental effect can seem more intense than the physical addiction. They are afraid. In addition, they may feel overwhelmed, ashamed, guilty and at times, hopeless, thinking they’ll never recover. This is where the intervention specialist comes in. Follow their lead.


Rehab is the next step. Once there, the professionals will take over their recovery. It is imperative that family members follow their instructions to the letter. A lapse on their part could create a relapse on the part of the addict.
This can be an outpatient rehab. On the other hand, the person might have to stay in a more sophisticated facility during the process. Of course, it depends on the severity of addiction. For Ativan addiction, outpatient rehab is more common. The good thing is that the patient can continue with their normal daily life. At the same time, they can also get professional help to kick the addiction. However, in severe cases, one might have to find an Ativan rehabilitation center.
Ultimately, one must be aware of the signs and take action if any changes are noticed. An early intervention and a timely rehab might just save the loved one’s life. Remember, Ativan overdose is a medical emergency. Therefore, it can result in death if instant they don’t get quick treatment.

  1. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Ativan.
  2. Department of Consumer Protection. Abuse of Benzodiazepines/Sedative-Hypnotics.
Sharon Levy

About Author

Sharon Levy, MD, MPH

After successful graduation from Boston University, MA, Sharon gained a Master’s degree in Public Health. Since then, Sharon devoted herself entirely to the medical niche. Sharon Levy is also a certified addiction recovery coach.


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