Ativan is the brand name of the prescription medication Lorazepam, a benzodiazepine drug that is often prescribed to treat anxiety disorders. While safe to use short-term to treat panic and anxiety symptoms, this medication can cause chemical dependence over time, resulting in symptoms of withdrawal if its use is stopped quickly. The following article will describe the Ativan withdrawal timeline, symptoms, and recommendations for cessation.

Transform Your Life Today
Talk to Our Recovery Specialist

Call Now: (877) 855-3470


What is Ativan?

Ativan (Lorazepam) is in the family of sedative drugs called benzodiazepines, along with other medications like Xanax and Valium. It works by enhancing the effects of the GABA neurotransmitter in the brain and body, calming the mind and nerves.

Why is Ativan Prescribed?

Ativan is often prescribed to treat people with anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and insomnia. It can be given to people before they undergo certain medical procedures or dental treatments to help them relax. It may also be used to help stop a seizure in some cases. The sedative effect can last up to 8 hours, with a fast onset, especially if given as a sublingual dissolving tablet. The person may feel calm, drowsy, or dizzy after using this medication.

The Reality of Ativan Withdrawal Symptoms

Because of its potential for addiction, Ativan prescriptions are monitored closely, and stopping Ativan use should be done under careful medical supervision. The safest place to do so is in a medical detox center. Common Ativan withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Hallucinations
  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Sweating
  • Seizures
  • Stomach and muscle cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Tremors
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Feeling nervous and irritable

How Long Do Ativan Withdrawal Symptoms Last?

ativan withdrawal symptoms

Ativan withdrawal symptoms will vary from person to person. The symptoms in a person who has been using Ativan as prescribed for a short period of time may only last for a day or two, while in people who have been abusing the medication for months they could last for two weeks or even longer.

Stages of the Ativan Withdrawal Timeline

The first of the stages of Ativan withdrawal timeline hits very quickly (within 24 hours), as the medication has a short half-life of about 10-12 hours.

After 3-4 days, you can expect the most serious side effects, with anxiety symptoms, increased heart rate, difficulty sleeping, nausea, irritability, mood swings, and seizures may occur during this time in some cases.

Once the acute phase is over, some individuals will experience a “protracted withdrawal syndrome”, lasting two weeks or longer, with drug cravings, anxiety, vomiting, headache, and a general feeling of malaise, which could lead to depression.

Ativan Withdrawal Timeline Chart

Days 1-3 – withdrawal symptoms begin

Days 3-4 – acute withdrawal, with serious symptoms that often require medical attention

Days 5-14 – protracted withdrawal syndrome with anxiety, drug cravings, and feelings of malaise

Seeking Ativan Withdrawal Treatment

Ativan withdrawal treatment will include close medical monitoring and will usually be done using a slow tapering-off method, in which your doctor will prescribe you low doses of Ativan or another similar benzodiazepine drug to ensure you stay safe and you do not experience dangerous side effects like seizures. Medical professionals will be there around the clock to make sure you stay safe, and to offer medical care if needed.

A medication-assisted treatment plan in a detox center will be the safest place to stop taking Ativan, and due to the ongoing nature of substance use disorder, further rehabilitation treatment is usually recommended.

What Helps with Ativan Withdrawal?

The best way to avoid Ativan withdrawal is by tapering off of the medication very slowly. Medical supervision is not always required to do so, but it is advised in most cases, to ensure you stay safe and do not experience any serious adverse side effects.

Along with this medication-assisted treatment, further therapies and treatments like cognitive behavioral therapy, group therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, and holistic care can address the underlying causes of the addiction, like the anxiety or panic disorder, while teaching you self-soothing methods and stress-reduction techniques you can use for the rest of your life.


What is Ativan and why is it prescribed?

Ativan is a benzodiazepine medication (a sedative) that is prescribed for people who have anxiety, panic disorders, insomnia, and seizure disorders. It is also given to help calm people during various medical and dental procedures. It provides feelings of calm and sleepiness and can become addictive as it makes changes to the brain, causing the body to become acclimated to having the drug present in its system.  

What are the symptoms of Ativan withdrawal?

Ativan withdrawal symptoms include headache, tremors, sweating, difficulty concentrating, confusion, increased blood pressure, heart palpitations, rapid heart rate, nausea, abdominal cramps, vomiting, weight loss, irritability, anxiety, mood swings, panic attacks, drug cravings, and seizures.

How long do Ativan withdrawal symptoms typically last?

For people who have not been using the medication for a long period of time, the withdrawal symptoms will likely start to taper off after 3 or 4 days. For those who have been abusing the medication for months, and for those who have been taking larger doses or using Ativan frequently, the symptoms can last for two weeks or even longer.

What are the stages of the Ativan withdrawal timeline?

The stages of the Lorazepam (Ativan) withdrawal timeline are as follows:

Stage 1: As soon as you stop taking the medication, it begins to break down in the body. Ativan has a short half-life, so you can expect to start noticing mild symptoms within 24 hours, like a faster heart rate than usual and feelings of anxiety.

Stage 2: Symptoms will gradually increase, reaching their peak at around day 3 or 4. This is called “Acute Withdrawal” and it is when you will feel your worst, with stomach issues, headaches, serious anxiety, feeling confused, sweating, shaking, and irritability. Some people will experience panic attacks in this stage, and a small percentage may have seizures. Medical supervision is always recommended if you are quitting Ativan for this reason.

Stage 3: Not everybody experiences the protracted “Withdrawal Syndrome” stage. If a person has been using Ativan for a long time, or if they have been abusing the medication (taking it more than prescribed) the chances are much higher. This stage can last for two weeks or longer, with rebound anxiety, drug cravings, headache, nausea, vomiting, and a general feeling of malaise. Over time, this will go away.

How is Ativan withdrawal treated?

Along with prescription medications to help taper off of the drug, Ativan treatment involves therapy, support groups, and holistic care. An integrated treatment program that includes behavioral therapy, mental health care, medical treatments, and education on mental health and addiction will set you up for long-term success in the future.

To find out more about the options for inpatient detox programs, and further rehabilitation programs, please contact WhiteSands in Tampa at 877-640-7820. We offer professional support for a safer detox.

What helps with managing Ativan withdrawal symptoms?

Seeking medical treatment is paramount if you are experiencing Ativan withdrawal symptoms, as these can escalate, causing dangerous issues like seizures. Along with medical care and possible medication management services, attending a holistic treatment program that works to treat the underlying mental health issues, while helping you understand the connection between thoughts, emotions, and actions, and providing practical wellness skills will help you take back control over your life after withdrawal. Certain lifestyle changes, like sleeping well, eating healthy foods, and getting appropriate amounts of exercise will also help you feel better overall. 

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.

About the Author

is a proud alumni member of WhiteSands Treatment. After living a life of chaos, destruction and constant let downs, Mark was able to make a complete turnaround that sparked a new way of life. He is serious about his recovery along with helping others. At WhiteSands Treatment, we offer support to you in your homes or when you are out living in your daily lives.