Lorazepam is the generic name for the drug more commonly known as Ativan. Lorazepam belongs to the family of medications known as benzodiazepines. These are sometimes called “benzos.” Benzodiazepines are central nervous system depressants that slow down the nervous system, producing anxiety-relieving effects.

Street names for lorazepam can include “control” and “silence.”

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration classified lorazepam as a Schedule IV drug. These drugs have medical uses and are considered to have low potential for abuse. However, with prolonged abuse and similar Schedule IV drugs, such as Ambien and Valium, can cause addiction.

The medication was first introduced in 1977, sold under the names Ativan and Temesta.

Intended Usage

Doctors prescribe lorazepam to treat anxiety, acute stress, panic disorders, insomnia and depression.

The medication is available in pill format, intravenous injection or as an IV continuous infusion. IV doses can range from 1 to 4 milligrams, with the timing dependent upon the acuity of a person’s symptoms.

Lorazepam is available in pill form in dosages that range from 1 to 4 milligrams. The starting dosage is almost always 1 milligram. Other less-common formulations of  the drug include syrup, skin patch and a sublingual tablet. Tablets are typically either blue or yellow.

Side Effects

Side effects that can occur when lorazepam include:

  • appetite changes
  • blurred visions
  • dizziness
  • forgetfulness
  • insomnia
  • nausea
  • skin rash
  • tiredness

On rare occasions, a person can experience serious side effects when taking lorazepam, including:

  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Feeling faint or light-headed
  • Hallucinations
  • Suicidal thoughts

A person should not drink alcohol when taking this medication, as both are central nervous system depressants that could result in respiratory depression or respiratory arrest (stopping breathing).

Abuse and Addiction

An estimated 35 percent of medication-related emergency room visits are related to benzodiazepine use, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Lorazepam is the third-most cited benzodiazepine that was used not under a prescription that caused a visit to the emergency room.

Signs a person may have developed an addiction to lorazepam include:

  • Confusion
  • Developing obsessive thoughts related to taking the medicine
  • Drowsiness
  • Forging prescriptions or going to multiple doctors in an attempt to obtain multiple prescriptions
  • Memory problems
  • Needing a higher dosage to achieve the same affect
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Taking the medication for non-medical purposes or when a person is not experiencing a period of anxiety

A person can begin to experience an addiction to this medication in as little as one week after first taking the medicine. Lorazapem overdose is also possible. Signs a person may have taken too much of the medication include:

  • Ataxia, or difficulty speaking
  • Coma
  • Difficulty staying awake/conscious
  • Hypertension or high blood pressure
  • Profound mental confusion
  • Respiratory depression or arrest

Call 911 immediately if you suspect a person has overdosed on this medication.

Withdrawal Symptoms 

Examples of withdrawal symptoms associated with taking lorazepam include:

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Fever
  • Seizures
  • Shakiness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Stomach cramping

Treatment for Lorazepam Addiction

Beating an addiction  to this medication often begins with treatment in a detoxification or rehabilitation center. There, medical professionals can slowly taper off a person’s dosage to minimize adverse side effects.

After initial withdrawal symptoms, a person may wish to bridge the gap between the center and returning home at a sober living facility. Aftercare services, such as support groups and 12-step programs can also help keep a person from relapsing after beating a lorazepam addiction.

For more information on lorazepam abuse or if you think a loved one is suffering from addiction, please call our drug treatment center at 877-855-3470.