Ativan Withdrawal and Detox
Ativan is a brand name for lorazepam, a drug in the benzodiazepine family. It is often prescribed as a short-term treatment for anxiety disorders. If usedover a long period, you could develop a tolerance for the drug, requiring increased doses to attain the same effects. As a result, you may become physically dependent and unable to function normally without Ativan in your system.
If at this stage you stop using Ativan or reduce your dose, you’ll likely experience withdrawal symptoms, as your body tries to restore equilibrium. These symptoms can be both physical and psychological. Their level of severity depends on how long you’ve been using the drug, how much of it you’ve consumed, as well as certain personal factors such as your age, previous history of abuse, and genetic disposition.
Some Ativan withdrawal symptoms can be dangerous and even life-threatening. This is why it’s important to undergo detox in the care of medical professionals, inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation programmes or in a drug detoxification centre. The proper methods of detox can help you avoid serious complications and have the best chance of a sustained recovery.
What Is Ativan Withdrawal?
If you’ve become addicted to Ativan, you may experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop using the drug. Even if you follow your doctor’s prescription and only take the medication as instructed, you can still suffer withdrawal symptoms. When you reduce intake or quit altogether, your body and brain undergo an adjustment period, as they learn to work effectively in the absence of the drug.
It’s during this time you experience a range of emotional and physical discomfort.The normal timeframe for Ativan to be removed from the system differs from one person to the next.
Ativan is an intermediate-duration drug, which means it can stay in your system for about 12 hours. Your initial symptoms of withdrawal (after your last dose)might last around 12 to 24 hours. In extreme cases, up to 15 days may be required before you begin to feel better.
Causes of Ativan Withdrawal
Consistent and prolonged use of benzodiazepines like Ativan can lead to a built-up tolerance and a need to use even more to achieve the same effects. This type of abuse puts you at risk of becoming both physically and psychologically dependent on Ativan. This means that if you reduce your intake too quickly or stop taking the drug altogether, you’ll likely suffer withdrawal.
It’s not recommended to use Ativan for more than four months or abruptly cease using it without medical approval. This is due to the high risk of developing tolerance and dependence. Taking high doses of Ativan places you at risk of severe and even fatal withdrawal symptoms, and also contributes to slowing down the rate at which you can effectively taper off.
Ativan is a short-acting benzodiazepine, which means it doesn’t take the same time as longer-acting benzos to be eliminated from your system. It has a faster rate of elimination, which increases the chances of withdrawal occurring. Ativan withdrawal can also be caused when you take more of the drug than needed because you suffer from benzo-related blackouts and memory loss. This can happen when you’re constantly renewing your prescription before it’s time to do so.
Phases of Ativan Withdrawal
Ativan withdrawal can be divided into two phases:
- Withdrawal/acute withdrawal
- Protracted withdrawal/post-acute withdrawal
The first phase of withdrawal starts slowly, within 24 hours to a few days. Most of the symptoms experienced at this stage are mainly physical and could include mood disturbances and difficulty sleeping. These symptoms increase in severity as you progress and last for roughlythree to four days.
Post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) – or the protracted withdrawal phase – begins after you’ve passed through the acute withdrawal stage. It is mostly characterised by the presence of emotional and psychological symptoms and may last for an extended period of time. Proper psychological care from trained counsellors or therapists might be needed to help you recover from this syndrome phase.
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Ativan Withdrawal Symptoms: What to Expect?
Ativan withdrawal is associated with a variety of uncomfortable, dangerous and even life-threatening symptoms. However, these symptoms can be managed or avoided with direct medical supervision and intervention. At the first phase, you could experience physical and psychological symptoms such as: insomnia, irritability, hand tremors, confusion, headache, sweating, anxiety, mood swings, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, muscle pain or stiffness and weight loss.
The second phase may or may not occur, depending on your personal circumstances. However, common withdrawal symptoms to be expected at this stage are mainly psychological and include anxiety, sleep difficulties, loss of interest, inability to feel pleasure, difficulty concentrating, depression, cravings, memory problems, and constant feelings of tiredness.
Additionally, rebound symptoms can be expected during withdrawal. These refer to the temporary return of the symptoms Ativan was initially prescribed for. You may, therefore, experience rebound anxiety and/or rebound insomnia around one to four days after you quit using Ativan. These symptoms are caused by the abrupt cessation or reduction of your dosagebut can be managed via controlled tapering in a treatment centre, until a better alternative can be decided.
Timeline of Ativan Withdrawal
Typically, if you take higher doses of Ativan or use it more frequently for a prolonged period, your withdrawal phase will last longer and in some cases, be more severe. The most common cases of Ativan withdrawal follow this general timeline:
Days 1 – 3
Acute withdrawal symptoms begin to occur within a few hours after your last dose. Within the first 24 hours of withdrawal, you might experience nausea, vomiting and headaches. You could also experience rebound symptoms within the first few days. All of these symptoms linger for a few days, before gradually tapering off.
Days 4 – 7
During this period, your withdrawal symptoms can be expected to have reached their peak. However, they will differ in severity from one individual to another. You could even experience irritability and tremors, while excessive cravings may start to come to the fore.
Days 8 – 14
By this time, withdrawal symptoms usually begin to settle down. In addition, many of your rebound symptoms will have disappeared by this time,though others may still remain.
Day 15 onwards
You might have stopped experiencing acute withdrawal symptoms by this time. However, protracted withdrawal symptoms can occur afterwards, although there is the possibility you may not experience any of them.
What Is Ativan Detoxification?
Ativan detoxification is the period of time during which you quit taking the substance, allowing your body to undergo the natural process of expunging all traces of the drug. Detoxification treatment programmes utilise the help of treatment professionals to medically manage withdrawal symptoms that can occur during the detox the process. This helps reduce your risk of experiencing dangerous complications, such as seizures.
Certain detox methods allow you to slowly and carefully withdraw from Ativan. Usually, your physician will gradually lower your dose (tapering) to minimise withdrawal symptoms, or medication may be administered to help you complete the process. For instance, longer-acting benzodiazepines such as diazepam (Valium) may be prescribed to stabilise you and ease the procedure of tapering off the medication.
During inpatient detoxification, you are supervised throughout in order to ensure proper relapse prevention. Inpatient detox is appropriate if you’re struggling with long-term dependence or different medical or mental health concerns. However, if you’re trying to overcome a mild Ativan dependence, an outpatient detoxification may be a more suitable option. After you’ve completed detox, you can shift your focus to dealing with the psychological aspects of your Ativan abuse and dependence. Many rehabs and recovery centres offer individual, family and group therapy as solutions that can ensure successful long-term recovery.
Ativan detox process
The main goal of the Ativan detox process is to help you achieve physical stabilisation. Detoxification is almost always completed in a slow tapering manner, where doctors gradually reduce the dosage of Ativan over a period of several weeks. Usually, tapering is carried out at a rate of about 10% per week. This rate can vary,however, depending on your condition and the severity of your symptoms.
In addition, symptoms are hardly stable, which makes it difficult to gauge the perfect taper for you; even if your withdrawal symptoms seem manageable one week, you may be dealing with worsenedwithdrawal-associated symptoms the next. Also, as you’re trying to overcome an addiction to a short-acting benzodiazepine like Ativan, a longer-acting and less potent drug like diazepam (Valium) may be prescribed by your medical practitioner.
This type of benzodiazepine medication can remain active in the brain for a long time, enablingyou to undergo a gradual reduction, without suffering severe withdrawal symptoms. Ativan detox is commonly recommended as either an inpatient or outpatient treatment in a specialised facility. Withdrawal symptoms during the process may peak within a few days or continue for longer periods. Proper support and medical care during the detox process are therefore essential.
It may be tempting to detox by yourself ‘cold turkey’ in the comfort of your home. However, the symptoms of withdrawal can potentially be fatal. Quitting Ativan in the correct manner is therefore crucial.
Quitting Ativan is the right step to take, it’s highly risky to do sovia a home detox, especially if we’re talking about serious, prolonged use and dependence to higher dosages. In addition to the severe effects of withdrawal (such as hallucinations, seizures and even death), there’s also the risk of relapsing, along with suffering physical complications in the process.
Of course, home detoxification is possible with lighter dependencies or when you haven’t been using for too long. You can perform an outpatient or home detox in some cases. This decision should, however, be made only by a professional doctor or therapist.
Why can detoxification at home be harmful?
For some people, attempting to detox alone can be dangerous. When you’ve struggled with a long-term addiction, there is a high possibility you’ve developed a dependence on the drug. If you suddenly quit using this substance, withdrawal symptoms occur, and some of your body’s systems could begin to function abnormally. When you choose to detox at home, you will not have access to useful medications to help you cope with withdrawal symptoms.
Treatment at a detox centre puts you in the care of themedical staff that can provide the necessary medications and additional treatments to minimise withdrawal effects, control cravings and make your overall experience as comfortable as possible. Even if you choose a home detox with the best intentions in mind, there’s every possibility that relapse will occur.
This is because there will likely be no sufficient support at home, unlike in a facility where you can communicate with non-judgmental and empathetic staff members, as well as other people going through the same process as you. Even if your friends and family members are supportive, they most likely are incapable of properly overseeing or even administering the required medications to help you during the detox phase.
Medically supervised Ativan withdrawal detox
If you’re addicted to Ativan, a medically-assisted detox could be more helpful for you. Medications can help deal with Ativan withdrawal symptoms and improve your comfort during the process.
Generally, during a medically supervised withdrawal detox, you will be tapered off your dosage until your body is able to function independently without Ativan. This method of tapering involves administering smaller doses of Ativan over a period of time. In some cases, your doctor may even provide a less potent and longer-acting benzodiazepine to help wean you off the drug. This process of tapering can last anywhere from several weeks to months.
Medical detox is usually consistent and modified over the course of your treatment, designed to respond to your needs as they evolve. There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to detoxing. If detoxification is hurried, it can contribute to relapse. It’s best to work within a timeframe that will encourage long-term sobriety, which will naturally vary from person to person. Additionally, a medically supervised detox can be supported with therapy and other addiction recovery services for sustainable results.
Medications used during Ativan detox
Ativan detox can be an emotionally draining and physically uncomfortable process. Fortunately, medications can be prescribed by physicians to manage your withdrawal symptoms and help you cope with the entire process. Usually, the best medication for detox will depend on the substance to which you’ve become dependent. This is because the withdrawal symptoms you’ll experience will also vary according to your substance of abuse.
During your treatment and detoxification from Ativan, you may receive medication to help you manage withdrawal symptoms, some of which include other benzodiazepines like chlordiazepoxide, clonazepam (Klonopin) and diazepam. Unlike Ativan, Diazepam is a long-acting benzodiazepine that can be used to treat withdrawal from other long-acting benzodiazepines. It can help you overcome your addiction, whilst also preventing severe withdrawal symptoms.
Antidepressants might also be provided if you suffer from anxiety or depressive symptoms. These antidepressant medications are also known as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) and include medications such as Paroxetine (Paxil) or Fluoxetine (Prozac). In addition, physicians may also prescribe over the counter medications to treat headaches, stomach pain, diarrhoea and other mild withdrawal symptoms. Ativan withdrawal and detox may also benefit from a range of other supplements, which are still in the experimental stages of research. Melatonin (a common component of these medications and supplements) will help to alleviate insomnia, while Flumazenil (another component) can help to stabilise other withdrawal symptoms.
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Treatment for Withdrawal
The requirements for treating Ativan dependence are similar for other drug addictions. At first, you may not realise you have a problem. Subsequently, no treatment will be fully effective until you acknowledge that there is a problem. After doing so, you will then be able to benefit from a variety of treatment methods available. Ativan is a short-acting benzodiazepine; therefore, effective pharmacological treatment will make use of Valium or another longer-acting benzodiazepine.
You could also receive additional medications to handle withdrawal symptoms, such as Clonidine for high blood pressure, Buspar for anxiety, or Gabapentin for seizures or restlessness. This type of treatment will be essential as you undergo the acute withdrawal phase and mightcease when the risk of seizures is over. Effective non-pharmacological remedies that can also be used in treating moderate to mild withdrawal include mindfulness, yoga, acupuncture, and massage therapy.
Post-acute withdrawal symptoms (such as anxiety) can be treated with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), during which you’re challenged to confront your negative thoughts associated with using drugs. In addition, if you’ve been prescribed Ativan as a treatment for an anxiety disorder, individual therapy with a psychologist can help you isolate and target the cause of the anxiety. You’ll also learn alternative methods of coping with anxiety.
Withdrawing from Ativan: treatment methods and options
There are several methods and options available for treating Ativan withdrawal. These are aimed at helping you to start living a drug-free life. Some of the most common treatment options are:
- Ativan detoxification centres: these centres provide medications and medical supervision to help you manage withdrawal symptoms. They also provide professional support to slowly wean you off Ativan, with very little accompanying withdrawal symptoms.
- Inpatient treatment: after detox, you can continue your recovery with an inpatient treatment programme. This involves living at a residential centre and receiving round-the-clock access to care and services like individual and group counselling so that you can learn to function without the drug. Some also offer detox as a part of your whole treatment.
- Intensive outpatient treatment: this type of recovery programme involves living at home whilst you attend treatment for about three to five days per week, a few hours each day. It also includes other aspects of treatment like group counselling, individual therapy, medication management, relapse prevention, and addiction education.
- Partial hospitalisation: this treatment option is often used as a transition programme from inpatient treatment, and can be suitable if you’re at a high risk of relapse. With partial hospitalisation, you’re required to attend around 20 hours per week of treatment in a medical facility, whilstliving at home. If necessary, medications can also be provided if you’re experiencing Ativan withdrawal symptoms.
In any case, if seeking treatment for Ativan withdrawal, inpatient and outpatient programmes are recommended. These are designed to solve your addiction problem, and many begin at the detox phase, followed by a series of individual and group therapies. Aftercare treatment may also be provided, to ensure you have continuous support and maintain abstinence.
Drug treatment for withdrawal
Ativan abuse can be quite challenging to treat because you most likely used the medication initially as a remedy for an anxiety-based mental health disorder. Generally, prescription benzodiazepine drugs are more likely to be abused when taken as treatment for serious mental health disorders. When you become addicted to benzodiazepines, treatment for withdrawal involves strict adherence to a tapered dosing schedule to safely detox and reduce the number of symptoms you face.
Your tapering schedule could decrease by 25 percent of your initial dose every two weeks. Withdrawal symptoms may surface immediately when you begin treatment or even two weeks in. One of the most common side effects of withdrawal is difficulty sleeping, which can be easily treated with over-the-counter sleep aids, such as Unisom. Symptoms of irritability and anxiety are far more difficult to treat with medication,as the drugs to be used in treatment are the same to which you are already addicted.
You might experience hallucinations and delusions in serious cases of withdrawal. Inpatient therapy is the best option in such situations, as this offersclozapine (a necessary atypical antipsychotic drug) to aid your symptoms whilst continuing with normal withdrawal treatment.
Guided Ativan therapy
An addiction to prescription medications can happen to anyone, even if you have no history of drug abuse problems. Therefore, if you are prescribed Ativan, you’re at risk of addiction. This is the main reason why it must only be used carefully and under the close supervision of a qualified medical professional.
Guided therapy is essential because Ativan addiction and abuse are very common in people struggling with anxiety disorders. Even though the medication is recommended by doctors, the effect it induces can diminish in potency over time. If you’re suffering from severe anxiety, you could begin abusing the drug to deal with your symptoms.
Ativan is mostly abused by people in specific groups. For instance, veterans and others who have experienced a form of trauma may try to self-medicate to cope with the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. If you’re experiencing stress in the office or at school, you may also attempt to use Ativan and sometimes even combine it with other drugs to handle your day-to-day travails.
Live a Sober Life Again
Overcoming an addiction requires strength, commitment and a willingness to change. As soon as you’ve made a decision to live a drug-free life, you’ll need to take the necessary steps to change your current lifestyle and make your goal of a sober life a reality. One of the first steps to take is to communicate with your friends and loved ones and let them know what’s going on in your life.
It’s essential to be as open as possible, as hiding your addiction can heap more stress on you and hinder recovery. When they understand the challenges you’re facing, they can be better placed to offer you the support and understanding you need on your recovery journey. Living a sober life after drug dependence and addiction cannot be achieved on your own. So, in addition to your family’s support, you’ll also need help from people who have been in a similar situation.
This kind of help can be found via local support groups like Narcotics Anonymous (NA). This group of people have experienced addiction themselves and can provide a valuable sense of empathy and understanding. You’re already on the right path by choosing to live a sober life. Continue by finding help in a treatment centre and then joining a support group to help maintain your recovery.
According to research, it’s easier to become abstinent from Ativan than to maintain your abstinence. This is mostly true when there are no plans in place for continuing care after detox and treatment. It is therefore essential to learn effective relapse prevention strategies to help you achieve long-lasting sobriety. Strategies include:
- Planning for aftercare – after your initial detox and treatment, you’ll need ongoing aftercare to avoid a relapse. There are a variety of aftercare options, including individual and group therapy, 12-step meetings and sober housing. You can also register for short, outpatient rehab programmes any time after treatment, when you’re faced with recovery challenges.
- Regular support group attendance – support groups offer you a place to work out your feelings in a healthy manner. They also help to cope with cravings and can connect you with others who are going through the same struggles.
- Having a support system in place – you’re less likely to relapse when you have a reliable network of friends and family to lean on in difficult times. Needless to say, your network should be made up of people who are entirely sober, to help prevent relapse.
Tips to handle cravings
Handling cravings the right way is essential to sustaining your sobriety after withdrawal and detox. There are different coping techniques you can use to handle cravings, which will also help you avoid relapse. Relaxation techniques are very effective for combating Ativan cravings. They include deep breathing, meditation, guided imagery, visualisation and progressive muscle relaxation.
If you used Ativan as a means of treating insomnia, you can reduce your cravings and prevent relapse by practising good sleep regimen. This involves following a consistent sleep schedule every day, avoiding caffeine, alcohol and nicotine, keeping your room dark and making use of the relaxation techniques above to help you get to sleep.
Find a Treatment Centre
Finding a treatment centre with programmes tailored to your specific needs will usually ensure you can follow your plan to overcome drug addiction. However, not all programmes are the same, so you’ll have to carry out the necessary research and find the one that’s most suitable.
When you think you’ve located the right centre, take the time to visit in person. You can talk to doctors and staff members in person and observe how patients are treated. Ask questions about any issues specific to you and ensure you’re generally comfortable with your choice before making a commitment.
Finding a treatment centre is an important part of your recovery process. It might not be easy, but it is worthwhile in the end. If you’re having a difficult time finding a suitable treatment centre for you or a loved one, speak to a qualified addiction recovery support and advice specialist. They can help you find a treatment programme that will fit your individual needs.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does Ativan withdrawal last?
Everyone experiences withdrawal differently. More often than not, if you take higher and more frequent doses of Ativan, withdrawal may be longer and more severe. Ativan withdrawal symptoms typically develop within 24 hours and peak around the second day. You may begin to experience some relief from symptoms by the fourth or fifth day. Post-acute withdrawal is uncommon, but could last for weeks or months after initial withdrawal from Ativan is completed.
Are there any home remedies for getting clean safely?
It can be dangerous to make use of home remedies as a way to rid your body of psychoactive drugs. This is because of how severe or potentially life-threatening some of the withdrawal symptoms are. While it may seem easier to use home remedies and other alternative methods to detox, your safety is in better hands under the supervision of a medical professional.
How long does it take to detox from Ativan?
Ativan detox may take anywhere from four to five days or more. However, the timeline may vary, based on a number of factors, including severity and length of use, in addition to the method of detoxification being used.
Can you die from Ativan withdrawal?
Withdrawal from benzodiazepines such as Ativan can be potentially deadly. During Ativan withdrawal, convulsions, seizures and psychosis can occur. These dangerous symptoms require emergency medical attention to prevent them leading to permanent brain damage, coma or death.
What is Ativan withdrawal?
Ativan (or lorazepam) is a medication prescribed by most doctors to treat anxiety and can be used to halt seizures through intravenous injections. Withdrawal from Ativan occurs when you stop using it or attempt to significantly lower your regular dose after you’ve become physically dependent.
Is Ativan withdrawal dangerous?
Unmanaged Ativan withdrawal can cause dangerous effects like hallucinations, blackout, seizures and even death. In addition, a rebound effect – or the reappearance of initial symptoms Ativan was prescribed for – is an issue of concern with Ativan withdrawal.
Can I find help?
If you or a loved one is struggling with Ativan withdrawal, consider getting in touch with trained advice and support specialists, or referral services. They can offer confidential and comprehensive information about the best treatment options for you.
Are there ways to prevent or reduce withdrawal symptoms?
If you’re heavily dependent, you may likely suffer more severe symptoms. Medical detox and medically supervised withdrawal provide effective ways to reduce and/or prevent painful symptoms.
Is detox from Ativan dangerous?
Detoxing from Ativan is accompanied by physical withdrawal symptoms that can be quite dangerous. Some of these rare, but life-threatening symptoms include hallucinations, fever, convulsions and seizures.
Can medication help?
Treatment centres (including inpatient and outpatient detox programmes) can offer a wide range of remedies when you’re struggling with Ativan withdrawal. Doctors and other healthcare providers can prescribe antidepressants, long-acting benzodiazepines and even over-the-counter medications to help you cope with withdrawal symptoms.
Call our admissions line 24 hours a day to get help.