How long does it take to withdraw from Ativan? Here, we look at the Ativan withdrawal timeline.
Ativan is a brand name of the benzodiazepine drug lorazepam, which is commonly prescribed to treat anxiety, panic disorders, insomnia, seizures, and irritable bowel syndrome. Ativan carries a high risk of dependency and is typically prescribed for short-term use. Once you quit Ativan, withdrawal symptoms may occur if you’ve developed a dependence on the drug. The Ativan withdrawal timeline varies, depending on a number of factors.
How Dependence Develops
Ativan, a central nervous system sedative, works by enhancing the activity of the neurotransmitter GABA, which produces feelings of relaxation. While Ativan has been shown to be safe and effective for short-term use, long-term use often leads to dependence.
Dependence is the result of changes in brain function in an attempt to compensate for the effects of a drug. In the case of benzodiazepines like Ativan, abuse–which is the act of using the drug in a way other than exactly as prescribed by a physician–leads the brain to reduce the activity of GABA in order to counteract the drug. This leads to tolerance, which means that you need increasingly larger doses of Ativan in order to get the desired effects. But as you use more, your brain continues to compensate, and at some point, brain function may shift so that it now needs the drug in order to function comfortably.
Once you’ve developed a dependence on Ativan, quitting cold-turkey will produce Ativan withdrawal symptoms that can be uncomfortable at best and dangerous–or even fatal–at worst.
Ativan Withdrawal Symptoms
The symptoms of withdrawal associated with Ativan include:
- Heart palpitations
- High blood pressure
- Nausea and vomiting
- Muscle aches
- Anxiety or panic
- Tingling in the extremities
- Suicidal thoughts
In some cases, Ativan withdrawal after 1 week can produce dangerous shifts in blood pressure and heart rate that can lead to serious complications, including death.
Ativan Withdrawal Timeline
Ativan withdrawal symptoms will typically set in within 24 hours of the last dose. During early withdrawal, insomnia, anxiety, and an increase in heart rate and blood pressure are common. Ativan withdrawal after 1 week produces the more acute symptoms of withdrawal. These can last for two weeks, but severe dependence can increase the Ativan withdrawal timeline to up to a few months. Bouts of depressions and anxiety, as well as cravings for Ativan, can last as long as two years, in severe cases.
The Ativan withdrawal timeline varies among individuals, depending on a number of factors, including:
- The length of the dependence.
- The amount being taken.
- How the Ativan was taken–in pill form, snorting, or injecting.
- Biological factors, such as metabolic rate.
- Psychological factors, such as a co-occurring mental illness.
Medical Detox is Essential for Ativan Withdrawal
Quitting Ativan cold-turkey can be very dangerous, and the symptoms that result can be excruciating. Medical detox is essential for safe and comfortable Ativan withdrawal.
A high quality medical detox program is supervised by licensed medical and mental health professionals, who help to ensure your comfort and safety during withdrawal.
Because there are no medications approved by the FDA to reduce the severity of withdrawal or treat dangerous symptoms, withdrawing from Ativan is typically a matter of tapering off the doses to reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms. Following your detox plan is essential for safe, effective detox with as few complications and as little discomfort as possible during the Ativan withdrawal timeline.
Detox is Not Addiction Treatment
While medical detox helps you safely withdraw from Ativan, medical detox is not addiction treatment and does little to address the complex issues behind the addiction. Addiction is characterized by compulsive drug use despite negative consequences. Treating addiction requires intensive therapy through a high quality treatment program. Most people who detox without following up with addiction treatment will go right back to abusing Ativan.
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.