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Overview of Ativan detox

Ativan, or chemically known as lorazepam, is a powerful prescription benzodiazepine. It is used to treat seizures, anxiety disorders, sleep disorders and epilepsy. It is also used commonly in the detox process of alcohol withdrawal or other benzodiazepine withdrawal. Sometimes it is also used with anaesthesia to assist with sedation and interference with memory formation. Because Ativan is a benzo, it is very psychologically and physically addicting. Ativan detox can be complex and dangerous, and medical help is always advised when coming off of Ativan.

Ativan is typically injected into a muscle or vein, but it also can be taken by mouth. The effect can last an entire day and the onset is 1-30 minutes. Ativan produces euphoria and comfort, making it a desired drug of abuse. It also numbs emotions and sometimes is used by people to “self medicate” for depression or trauma. Some who have also felt they have social anxiety will find that the drug makes it much easier for them to interact socially and they continue taking the drug by either buying it on the street or switching to a more prevalent benzo like alprazolam (Xanax).

When Ativan is abused tolerance rises quickly, making more and more needed to produce the same effect, leaving people chasing the high it produces. This can lead to “blackouts” similar to the effect of alcohol. People can go hours or sometimes days not remembering what events took place, where they went, or what they did. This can be very dangerous and sometimes lands people in jail, a hospital or psychiatric unit.

Because of risk of addiction, Ativan is typically only prescribed 2-4 weeks. For some this can be enough to start an addiction. It is important to talk with your doctor about the risk of addiction before getting on Ativan. Ativan withdrawal can cause seizures and even heart failure if not treat correctly. Even if other symptoms are not felt, one could still have seizures. Depressed individuals also have a risk of having suicidal ideation while under the influence of Ativan.

Ativan was first patented in 1963, but did not go for sale in the United States until 1977. It is on the World Health Organization's List of Essential Medicine, which is a list of the most important medicines needed in a basic health system. In 2011, 28 million prescriptions for Ativan were filled in the United States, making it the second most prescribed benzodiazepine next to Xanax.

Click below for detailed Prescription Drug detox guides

How Detoxing From Ativan works

Because Ativan is a benzodiazepine, detox can be very dangerous. In a detox center, doctors will first evaluate the patient. They will want to know how much was used and how often. This is because they need to know how much benzodiazepines will be needed to taper down effectively without causing any seizures. They also want the patient to be as comfortable as possible so severe withdrawal symptoms are not felt. Often when coming off of benzos, a person may become very agitated and anxious, so an appropriate dose will want to be determined.

In addition to the taper, other medications are used to assist with anxiety, depression, and insomnia. Medications for stomach pain and discomfort may also be prescribed. Nonbenzodiazepine may be used to help with sleep. Other non-narcotic medications like clonidine, which is a blood pressure medicine, can be used to assist with restlessness and irritability.

In detox, each day the patient is given less and less benzodiazepines so that they are safely detoxed from the drug. Because benzodiazepine withdrawal is so dangerous, it is typically a slower detox process than other drugs like opioids. Ativan can stay in the body longer than other substances and stores in fat cells. This can also extend the detox process and make longer lasting symptoms.

WHAT DOES THE Ativan DETOX PROCESS LOOK LIKE?

Even when one is taking the prescribed amount, the body can become dependent on the drug.This is why even prescribed amount are often tapered down to prevent negative effects. When high dosages are taken for recreational use a person often becomes very addicted and inpatient detox will most likely be necessary or advised.

The Ativan detox process will involve many medications to counteract the symptoms of Ativan withdrawal. A patient will be given a room and a bed and will be monitored 24/7 by medical staff. Doctors and nurses are on site at all times to ensure patients are detoxing comfortably and safely. Vitals will be checked hourly or bi-hourly. Often this even occurs during sleeping hours because seizures are more common while trying to sleep.

With Ativan, detox patients may be watched more closely than if they were detoxing from another substance. This is because of the risks and symptoms associated with benzo withdrawal. The patient will likely be labeled for fall risk and given a bed with rails to prevent falling out of bed. Also they may be given a wristband as well so that all medical staff knows they are at a higher risk of fall or seizures than other patients. It is medical staff’s job to make sure a patient is safe and comfortable throughout the detox process.

Ativan withdrawals can have a wide range of effects. They can be as mild as minor anxiety and insomnia or be as severe as psychosis or grand mal seizures. Even after only taking Ativan for one week can leave a person feeling some range of effects. In medical detox medications are used to mitigate symptoms, though effects can still be felt. Anxiety, depression and insomnia are the most common. Sweating, dizziness, vomiting, confusion and headaches are also very common.

In detox most of these symptoms can be brought down to much less severe, or even non-existent level. Sleep aids, anti anxiety medication, and stomachache aids like promethazine can help drastically. Often more psychological symptoms like lack of concentration and depression are going to be the most severe in detox.

Severe symptoms like seizures and psychosis can be avoided in medical detox. This is due to the amount of tapering benzos used. This the biggest reason to be completely honest about Ativan use in detox so that severe life threatening symptoms can be avoided. Seizures can occur even if the taper is too low. Even just a significant enough jump in the amount of benzodiazepines in the body can cause fatal symptoms.

Ativan Detox Withdrawals

Pill Bottle Icon Withdrawal can cause seizures or cardiac arrest
Pill Icon Because of its effects on GABA receptors, withdrawal can lead to severe anxiety
Syringe Icon Sedative hypnotics related complications make up 35% of ER visits

Ativan withdrawals can have a wide range of effects. They can be as mild as minor anxiety and insomnia or be as severe as psychosis or grand mal seizures. Even after only taking Ativan for one week can leave a person feeling some range of effects. In medical detox medications are used to mitigate symptoms, though effects can still be felt. Anxiety, depression and insomnia are the most common. Sweating, dizziness, vomiting, confusion and headaches are also very common.

In detox most of these symptoms can be brought down to much less severe, or even non-existent level. Sleep aids, anti anxiety medication, and stomachache aids like promethazine can help drastically. Often more psychological symptoms like lack of concentration and depression are going to be the most severe in detox.

Severe symptoms like seizures and psychosis can be avoided in medical detox. This is due to the amount of tapering benzos used. This the biggest reason to be completely honest about Ativan use in detox so that severe life threatening symptoms can be avoided. Seizures can occur even if the taper is too low. Even just a significant enough jump in the amount of benzodiazepines in the body can cause fatal symptoms.

List of Ativan Withdrawal Symptoms

  • Headaches
  • Anxiety
  • Tension
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Restlessness
  • Confusion
  • Irritability
  • Sweating
  • Numbness/tingling of extremities
  • Hypersensitivity to light, sound, and smell
  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • Delirium
  • Seizures
  • Appetite loss
  • Hallucinations
  • Dizziness
  • Panic attacks

Can you detox from Ativan at home?

It is very unwise to attempt to detox from Ativan at home. It is never recommended or supported that anyone detox from any benzodiazepine alone at home. Ativan may not always cause severe symptoms, but the risk is high. Even with seemingly no symptoms, one can still have seizures, delusions, or confusion abruptly. Seizures can be common in sleep which is also very dangerous. Seizures can occur while driving or operating heavy machinery. They can also occur while walking up or down stairs. There is no telling when or if a patient will have seizures.

In addition to the risk of falling or having seizures, one may become delusional or psychotic. They may do something they may not normally do and put themselves or others at risk of harm. It can be hard to tell if you are beginning to become delusional and will not feel the need to seek medical help. Suicidal ideation is also common while coming off of Ativan.

Sometimes Ativan withdrawal can be so painful, and cravings so great, that the user may feel hopeless and not see the benefit of staying clean. They also may become desperate to relieve their symptoms and may commit crime. There are many risks that come with Ativan withdrawal, and it is always advised that one seek medical help if they decides to quit, or cannot attain Ativan.

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How long does it take to detox from Ativan

Ativan detox has an extremely wide range of length. It mostly depends on the amount and frequency of use, but also depends on height, age, and weight. Every person’s metabolism is different and it depends on how long it takes for one’s body to process the drug. In a more overweight person the drug can stay in the body longer, and cause a more drawn out withdrawal process. In a skinnier person the drug can leave the body very quickly. Sometimes with very severe abuse the withdrawal process may take longer due to the high tolerance and the amount of taper needed to slowly bring someone off of Ativan.

Ativan detox for moderate to severe abuse typically takes a couple of weeks for most of the physical symptoms to fade. After that, insomnia, anxiety and depression can last up 30 days or up to years. It all depends on the individual and is hard to give an accurate time frame. Working with medical professionals can help with these longer lasting symptoms and doctors can make a comprehensive treatment plan. They can determine case by case what is appropriate and how to effectively begin the road to recovery.

  • According to CVS, 59% of its Ativan prescriptions are for people 60 years or older
  • Ativan is used commonly for stimulant overdose
  • In 2006 there were over 23,000 ER visits reported for Ativan addiction
  • According to the 2011 Treatment Episode Data Set Report, 60,200 people undergoing drug abuse treatment were addicted to benzodiazepines, like Ativan.
  • Taken orally, peak effects are reached within an hour and can last up to a day, arguably making it more addictive than Xanax