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ativan addiction treatmentWhat is Ativan?

Ativan is the brand name for  lorazepam. It is a benzodiazepine sedative and central nervous system (CNS) depressant often used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders. This drug is widely used across the United States, and is the second most-widely prescribed sedative after Xanax. Benzodiazepines like Ativan are some of the most abused prescription drugs in the United States, and addiction can be difficult to overcome.

Despite its medical uses, Ativan is abused on a regular basis by people for its hypnotic and sedative qualities. Regular exposure to this and other sedatives can lead to physical and psychological dependence over time. Drug addiction is possible unless preventative actions are taken.

How do People Abuse Ativan?

Common ways people misuse and over-use prescription medications like Ativan include:Ativan Abuse

  • Increasing dosage levels
  • Taking the medication without a prescription
  • Combining it with other drugs like alcohol or painkillers
  • Using the drug via non-prescribed methods (smoking, snorting, injecting, etc.)
  • Buying the drugs illegally
  • Visiting multiple doctors to obtain more prescriptions
  • Using Ativan prescribed for someone else
  • Taking the drug for non-medical reasons just to get “high”

Prescription drug abuse and dependence is a very real problem in the United States, with prescription opiates and sedatives responsible for more drug-induced deaths than all illegal drugs combined according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

Generally speaking, prescription medications are abused whenever they are taken in a different way than originally intended by a doctor or medical professional. According to the NIDA, most people who abuse prescription medications obtain drugs freely from friends and family members, while others get drugs from doctors or through the black market.

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Medical Detox and Ativan Withdrawal

Ativan and other benzodiazepine drugs are known to produce a range of potentially dangerous physical-somatic and emotional-motivational  withdrawal symptoms when intake is stopped, with medical intervention often advised prior to rehabilitation. Many of these symptoms can be dangerous if left untreated, with medical intervention generally recommended to help alleviate and manage the withdrawal syndrome.

Typical withdrawal symptoms for Ativan include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Agitation
  • Confusion
  • Excessive sweating
  • Dysphoria
  • Dizziness
  • Depression
  • Seizures

More serious withdrawal symptoms can occur if treatment is not provided, including hallucinations, seizures and delirium. Medications are often used to help alleviate these symptoms, with benzodiazepine dosage reduction schemes often administered over a period of weeks during medical detox.

Rehabilitation for Ativan Abuse and Addiction

Rehabilitation is the cornerstone of the drug treatment process, including inpatient rehab, partial hospitalization, day treatment, and outpatient rehabilitation. Ativan rehab programs are typically based on cognitive, behavioral, or motivational principles, with long-term medication treatment also administered when needed.

Typical rehab models for Ativan and sedative dependence include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • 12-step programs
  • Motivational interviewing
  • Contingency management

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  1. Abuse, N. I. (2010, September 22). Prescription Drug Abuse. Retrieved August 30, 2016, from
  2. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. (December 18, 2014). The DAWN Report: Benzodiazepines in Combination with Opioid Pain Relievers or Alcohol: Greater Risk of More Serious ED Visit Outcomes. Rockville, MD.

Last updated on April 7th, 2017 at 06:37 pm