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Teen Ativan Addiction: Side Effects, Withdrawal And Treatment

teen going through ativan withdrawalThe stress of work or school, busy schedules and social environments can cause serious anxiety, making sedatives like Ativan very attractive to teens as a way of dealing with stress.  However, these medications carry a danger of addiction that’s difficult to overcome.  Understanding Ativan, as well as why addiction happens and how it can be safely treated is an important first step in seeking help.

What is Ativan?

The National Library of Medicine (NLM) reports that Ativan, also known as lorazepam, is a benzodiazepine. It is prescribed for a number of disorders, including general anxiety disorder, insomnia, convulsive disorders and the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.  It is also used to combat the digestive problems that are secondary to chemotherapy treatments.

What are the Side Effects of Ativan Use?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) notes that Ativan can cause a number of side effects, ranging from mild to serious.  Here are the most commonly reported side effects:
  • Sedation
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Unsteadiness
Nervous system side effects like lethargy and memory impairment, confusion, disorientation and vertigo are common. Digestive problems like nausea, lack of appetite and diarrhea occur as well. Other side effects include fatigue, vertigo, slurred speech, headaches and liver impairment.

How is Ativan Abused?

Ativan can be abused in a number of ways.  Increasing the dosage amount, usage frequency or length of time are common ways the drug is abused. Abuse also takes place when Ativan is taken without a prescription; some even snort or inject the substance. When mixed with alcohol, Ativan can cause decreased heart rate, breathing and blood pressure, leading to coma and even death. Addiction usually occurs when the user develops a tolerance and has to increase consumption of the drug in order to achieve the same feeling of relaxation. Research shows that abuse of Ativan has increased dramatically since the 1990’s and that 4.7% of high schoolers report using sedatives like Ativan without a prescription.

What are the Symptoms of Ativan Withdrawal?

Withdrawal symptoms can occur after just a week of using this medication. Stopping this medication abruptly can lead to headaches, anxiety and tension, restless nights and sleep disturbances, a feeling of numbness in the limbs and weakness in the body, irritability and aggression, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea and loss of appetite. More serious signs and symptoms of Ativan withdrawal include:
  • Memory impairment,
  • Panic attacks,
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures or convulsions.

Ativan Addiction Treatment

If you suspect your teen is addicted or suffering from the symptoms of withdrawal, it’s important to seek professional treatment at a credited rehab facility.  Treatment is usually accomplished during a detoxification process where patients are monitored closely and sometimes given medication to help decrease the chance of seizures and convulsions.  Detoxification is followed by individual or group counseling and other treatments to help deal with the underlying cause of the addiction. It is easy to become dependent on Ativan and difficult to withdraw. But it is not impossible, especially with the help of a caring staff and professional treatment that will make it easier to break the ties of addiction so that you can claim your child’s life back.   References “Ativan”. Food and Drug Administration. Biovail Pharmaceuticals. 2007. Web. March 1, 2016 “Lorazepam”. MedlinePlus, National Library of Medicine. American Society of Health Systems Pharmacists. 2016. Web. March 1, 2016. Patterson, Eric. “Ativan Abuse”. DrugAbuse.com Website. Recovery Brands. 2015. Web. March 1, 2016

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