What Is Ativan?
Feelings of anxiety are familiar to almost every single person on the planet. The heart races, the palms sweat, and the head spins. It’s a terrible feeling, particularly when it seems to appear out of the blue, for no reason at all.
Ativan, a prescription benzodiazepine medication, is made specifically to assist with feelings of anxiety. It has the ability to dampen signals of panic and worry, so people with anxiety disorders can move through an episode without noticing any appreciable difference in how they feel about themselves and the world.
But Ativan comes with a darker side, too. Research has determined that Ativan can shift and bend signals in the brain that have to do with pleasure and reward. That means that Ativan doses can boost euphoria along with relaxation. And those shifts do a form of damage that’s so subtle it’s easy to ignore. When it’s in place, however, this damage can keep users taking Ativan, even when they want to stop.
Teens can fall into this Ativan trap, and when they do, they may find that it’s hard to recover and move back into a healthy, natural, and drug-free life. But teens who dig a little deeper and do just a little bit more may find the relief they’ve been looking for within the walls of a rehab facility.
Side Effects and Dangers
Teens abusing Ativan may be exclusively focused on the sensations of pleasure that Ativan can bring, but the drug can be dangerous in all sorts of ways. For example, Mayo Clinic reports that Ativan can react with all sorts of common substances, including:
- Sleeping medications
- Dental anesthetics
Teens who abuse Ativan may combine their drug with these common substances, and when they do, they could overdose. The two drugs can combine and meld, slowing down breathing rates and heartbeats. The teen can feel overwhelmingly sleepy, and if help isn’t provided, teens can slip into a coma-like state. Some teens die.
An ongoing addiction can also zap a teen’s ability to handle everyday activities, including many that have to do with academic success. In a study in the journal Epilepsy and Behavior, researchers found that teens taking benzodiazepines like Ativan can have cognitive difficulties, even with a relatively small dose. The brain is sedated, slow, and quiet. Things aren’t working as well as they should. Teens might find it hard to complete homework, study for exams, or perform well in class. Their brain cells aren’t firing at a normal pace, so academic issues seem to appear and linger.
Teens need to do well at school in this stage of life, as they’re working hard to get into the colleges and universities that can train them for future careers. If teens are mired in Ativan addictions, they may not be able to reach the elite academic level that can get them into these schools. That means their futures could be compromised, all because of the ongoing addiction.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine suggests that people shouldn’t take Ativan for more than four months at a time, as the drug can cause serious problems in long-term users. But teens with addictions might continue to take the drug for much longer than four months, and they might take the drug at doses that could do intense damage in even shorter periods of time.
As addictions progress, brain cells become accustomed to the presence of drugs, and they stop responding to the substance in the same way. In time, teens with addictions need to bump up their drug doses in order to experience the highs they crave. Smaller doses won’t work anymore. And that means teens with Ativan addictions might be taking two, three, or even four times the normal doses of Ativan.
Therapy for Ativan Abuse
It might seem difficult to persuade a teen taking Ativan to make a different choice. But in reality, teens are often quite amenable to the idea of recovery and healing. For example, in a study in Addictive Behaviors, researchers found that teens with addictions would consider addiction treatment if they were prompted to do so in a program offered at school. Now, parents may think that teens just dislike school and don’t listen. That may be true, but teens approached here still entered care. It seems likely then that teens approached in a loving way at home, in a place they feel loved and secure, might be even more likely to see the need for care. And when they do, a big transformation can start.
Sobriety is the main goal of any addiction treatment program, but for teens who abuse Ativan, that goal can’t be reached quickly. The drug just does too much damage, and moving it out of a person’s body in a hurry can cause severe distress. Instead, treatment teams aim to help reduce the benzodiazepine dose slowly, so the cells can adjust to sobriety at a more leisurely pace.
Treatment teams typically look for a replacement benzodiazepine that works in the same way as Ativan but isn’t quite so immediately rewarding. They come up with a dose of this replacement medication that’s similar to the dose people took when they were in the throes of the addiction. And then, they reduce that dose over a period of several days. There’s a touch of anxiety involved with this process, but teams do their best to keep that discomfort to a minimum.
Once teens are on the path to sobriety, treatment teams can assess mental health. That’s an important step, as it’s not at all uncommon for teens with addictions to also struggle with mental health disorders. In fact, a study in the Journal of Affective Disorders found that half of teens enrolling in addiction care had an existing mental health disorder at the time of enrollment.
Testing helps teams uncover these mental health conditions, and when they’re diagnosed, teams can pull together treatment plans that can help. Those plans might involve medications, counseling, or both. And ideally, all of the treatments will deal with the addiction and the mental illness at the same time, providing complete and wraparound care.
In therapy, teens work on skill experts refered to as self-efficacy. This is the trait that gives teens confidence that they can handle a prompt to return to drugs, without feeling like they need to give in to that prompt. A study in Addictive Behaviors found that teens with higher ratings of self-efficacy were more likely to be sober months later, and that makes sense, as a teen with the sense of confidence can deal with common triggers, including:
- Friends who use drugs
- Dealers calling with low Ativan prices
- Family members who store Ativan in plain sight
- Rooms in which the teen once took Ativan
Teens can get this confidence through skill-building therapy. In essence, they learn how to use their own inner strengths to handle instances in which they’d once be tempted to relapse. If they’re feeling worried and nervous, for example, they can use meditation or deep breathing to relax. If they’re unable to sleep, they can use hot baths and warm tea to prepare the mind for slumber. If they’re unhappy and need a boost, they can use exercise or art.
Teens who know that they have options, and teens with healthy and protective lives full of things to live for, tend to be teens who can live in recovery for a lifetime. And teens can get that help at Next Generation Village.
At Next Generation Village, adolescents are the focus of the entire staff. All treatments, all amenities, all therapies, and all activities are carefully chosen with the needs and opinions of young people in mind. Teens who enroll in the programs here can learn so much about addiction, and they can stay on track with education, through the help of our Education Specialists. The end result is a teen with a complete set of skills and the confidence to apply those skills properly for a long-lasting and persistent recovery. Contact Next Generation Village today to kickstart your teen’s recovery.
Medical Disclaimer: Next Generation Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.