Ativan Effects – The Long Term and Short Term Effects of Use

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People who continuously use Ativan can experience unpleasent Ativan effects. Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter if it is short-term or long-term.

There were more than a whopping 27.5 million prescriptions written for Ativan according to the DEA.  This was in 2011, just in the United States alone.  Currently, doctors give Prescriptions for Ativan to people suffering from many problems.

They include anxiety attacks, panic attacks, muscle spasms, insomnia or mild seizures. Sometimes, addiction is possible when the drug is not used properly, as well as when taken as prescribed.   This is even though they classify it as Schedule IV drugs. The DEA describes them as having minimal risk for becoming addicted.

What are the Short-Term Effects of Ativan Use?

Ativan is usually prescribed for a short period. Normally, it is for 1 to 3 months. In addition, they give it for sudden attacks of anxiety, panic, muscle spasms and insomnia.  Otherwise, they’ll give it in small doses (.5 to 2 grams).  It is not meant for chronic or severe attacks.  After the 1-3-month period, one should contact a doctor. At that time, one should discuss reassessing the need.

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Let’s say, a doctor may say that the benefit of taking Ativan is greater than the side effects.

The starting dosage is usually 2-6 mg per day. Also, they divide it up throughout the day. Incidentally, one can take the larger dose before going to bed.

Normally, this is how the prescription goes. In the case of anxiety, one gets 2-3 mg per day with 2-4 mg at night for insomnia. Sometimes, the doctor will decide that the dosage needs to go up. In this case, the usual does to increase is the one taken before bed.

Under the proper use of Ativan, it allows the user to feel calm and relaxed enough to fall asleep.

For short-term uses, there are certain foods and supplements to consider. Therefore, one needs to discuss them with a physician. they include St. John’s Wort, grapefruit juice, and even vitamin supplements. These supplements can help the body cope and lessen the side-effects.

Pregnant women should not take Ativan as it may harm the unborn child. Women who are breastfeeding should also not take this drug as they can give it to the baby. Also, one should avoid alcohol and other drugs while taking Ativan no matter what the dosage is.

When starting Ativan, it may seem like a “wonder drug”. This is especially after that first night of sleep after a long bout with insomnia. Furthermore, it can be the calm feeling in the midst of a panic attack.  When used correctly, it can be a “wonder drug.”  These feelings of calm and relaxation can be great at the time. However, it can lead a person to want to use it for a longer period of time, or to lessen the time between doses.

One may start to believe that without Ativan, there is no chance to sleep or to calm down the anxiety attack. This is the biggest issue with the short-term use of the drug. Of course, this is why dependence can be psychological as well as physical.

There are some Ativan effects that one can feel soon after starting taking it.  They are feeling sleepy, having thoughts that aren’t clear and problems with vision. This is even when the plan is to use them short term at a low dosage.

Eventually, negative side effects start to become evident. They include dizziness, feeling hyperactive, having hallucinations, feeling sad, feeling weak. In some cases, for those with epilepsy, it decreases their threshold for seizures. As a result, the signs become more visible.

Unfortunately, these good feelings are so desired by the person taking Ativan. Then, they build up a tolerance to the drug.  When a desire to feel better turns into a craving, it’s time to talk to a  doctor.  As a result, this is what leads the person to eventually looking at long term use.

What are the Long-Term Effects of Ativan Use?

Long term use equates to long term Ativan effects.  The side effects of short term use are now showing up as extreme.  The person will start sleeping most of the day and has no energy while they are awake.  They can become so confused that they appear to be delirious.

There may be problems with mental activity and feeling like they just can’t think straight.  Unfortunately, these issues can remain even after taking the drug has stopped.  It can affect the elderly patients even more. This is due to their already decreasing mental functionality. The person may have diseases such as Alzheimer’s or early stages of dementia.

The constant presence of the drug in the system is what creates the body’s response and tolerance to Ativan. The chemical influence becomes part of the normal body chemistry.

This causes the body to adapt to this new level. Consequently, this leads to dependency. They would do anything to meet this chemical need.

In long term use situations, people become very concerned with getting the Ativan. This is above anything else. Their behavior starts to change and to scheme to get the drug becomes a priority.  They will “doctor shop”. It means they will go from doctor to doctor to get a prescription.  They exaggerate their symptoms, forge prescriptions or claim to have lost them.

Roles in the family structure may change.  For instance, children may become the caregivers both emotionally and physically.  Family members may feel shame or guilt about the long-term user.  Boundaries have become nonexistent. Verbal and/or physical abuse is common in households where long term use is evident.

Guilt and shame are common feelings in the long-term users.  Yet, the feeling of euphoria far outweighs the feelings of guilt and shame.  Long term use can also be harmful to a person’s social life.  They have torn families apart, ruined careers, and destroyed lives.


Before staring Ativan, the patients need to know all the upps and downs of the medication. This means the short-term advantages and the long term Ativan effects.  It can be a true blessing in a time of crisis but using it long term can put one in a constant state of crisis.

Set the goals about when and why to take it and then consult a doctor before taking it. Talk to a doctor when starting to feel better and let the doctor advise on how to ween off.

View Sources
  1. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Ativan.
  2. Drug Enforcement Administration. BENZODIAZEPINES. 2013.


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