Whether you’re popping a few extra Ativans here and there or if you’re sticking to your doctor’s orders down to the smallest detail, the truth is that you may still be developing an Ativan abuse problem. The highly addictive nature of Ativan has become one of the main contributors (there are a few more to take note of) to a country that’s becoming increasingly addicted to prescription medications. Learning how to spot the signs of Ativan addiction and abuse is the first step on the road towards recovery. So, take a look at the list below and see if any of these signs sound a tad too familiar…
A Brief Rundown on Ativan
Before we get into how to recognize the signs of Ativan abuse, let’s take a minute to answer the questions, “What is Ativan?” and “What are some Ativan uses?” Ativan is the brand name for a chemical called lorazepam which belongs to a group of sedatives known as benzodiazepines, a type of central nervous system (CNS) depressant. This class of substance gets its calming effects by stimulating the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid, shortened simply to GABA. The GABA neurotransmitter in particular is known for its inhibiting qualities. If your brain’s neurons are firing off at too high of a rate, GABA can come in to slow everything down a bit more. Seizures, anxiety disorders, temporary anxiousness, and sometimes sleep disorders can all occur due to overactive neuronal firing and, as such, are prime candidates for benzodiazepines. Ativan is used to treat all of the above conditions. It comes in the form of either a pill or an injectable solution, typically used exclusively for epilepsy and pre-surgery anxiety. A few other benzodiazepines worth mentioning are:
- Diazepam (Valium)
- Clonazepam (Klonopin)
- Alprazolam (Xanax)
All substances in the benzodiazepine class, including Ativan, have a high risk of developing dependency in individuals who take it for a prolonged period of time, even if they don’t realize it’s happening. As such, all benzodiazepines are categorized as a Schedule IV substance in the United States and can carry with them some hefty penalties if you’re caught abusing any of these substances including Ativan.
The 11 Signs to Watch for That Might Point to Ativan Abuse
Now that we’ve answered the questions “What is Ativan?” and “What are some Ativan uses?” we can finally start digging into the signs that you might be abusing this dangerous drug. Below, we’ve compiled a list of eleven symptoms to watch for when trying to decide if you’ve got an Ativan problem. If by the end of the list you find that the resemblance is simply uncanny, we strongly encourage you to seek help from a qualified professional and explore all the treatment options that are available to you.
1. Have You Noticed Yourself Showing Any Symptoms of An Ativan High?
Some signs of an Ativan high might include:
- Extreme disorientation
- Feeling excessively tired
- Any auditory or visual hallucinations
- Diminished motor coordination
- A sense of feeling especially heavy
- An inability to stay awake
If so, you may be taking too much Ativan and, thus, are likely abusing it.
2. Are You Combining Ativan With Other Substances?
Taking any prescription medication with substances that are explicitly supposed to be avoided is an indication of abuse. Doing it accidently a few times is one thing, but purposefully mixing it with other drugs like amphetamines such as crystal meth or even alcohol to increase the buzz is a sign that you’re undoubtedly abusing Ativan. Stick to the Ativan uses your doctor discussed.
3. Are You Experiencing Ativan Withdrawals?
One of the most noticeable signs of Ativan addiction is experiencing withdrawals after you haven’t had a dose in a while. Some of symptoms of Ativan withdrawals include:
- Rapid heart rate
- Hand tremors
It’s worth mentioning here that Ativan withdrawal carries with it a potentially fatal risk. Similar to delirium tremens of alcohol withdrawal, going cold turkey after being addicted to Ativan can bring on a set of symptoms lumped together as “benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome.” This dangerous state can result in seizures, coma, and possibly death. It’s absolutely crucial, then, that you enlist the help of a qualified professional during your Ativan withdrawal. Neglecting to do so just might end up costing you your life!
4. Have You or The People Close to You Noticed Any Changes in Social Behavior?
Have you been backing out of social get-togethers? Are you keeping aspects of your life secret that you would have willingly shared before you started using Ativan? Are you moody and irritable in social situations where you used to be happy and carefree? If so, your behavior might be changing because you’ve started abusing Ativan. Your priorities have shifted and Ativan has made its way to the forefront of your mind. And your social relationships, which can be crucial, just might be suffering because of it.
5. What About Physical Appearance?
The way you present yourself is also a key indicator of an underlying Ativan addiction. Have you stopped bothering to look presentable when you leave the house? Have you begun neglecting your personal hygiene and physical health recently? Many people with substance use disorders tend to push aside such concerns in favor of using. After all, there’s only so much brain power to spare when you have an Ativan addiction.
6. Do You Find Yourself Taking More Than the Recommended Ativan Dosage?
This one is pretty simple: if the Ativan dosage you’ve been taking is more than what’s recommended, you’re abusing it. While it’s understandable that you might take one or two extra simply because you lost track of time (though you should never double dose), doing so too much increases the risk of becoming dependent. What’s more, the relatively long Ativan half-life of 15 hours makes it especially important to stick to a proper dosing schedule. Otherwise your Ativan dosage is bound to be more than what’s considered safe.
7. Are You Slacking on Fulfilling Obligations You Had No Trouble with Before?
Work, school, and even family obligations getting in the way of your Ativan addiction? If you have a hard time living up to the obligations you performed so effortlessly beforehand, your habit may be crossing over into actual Ativan abuse.
8. Do You Engage in Riskier or Immoral Behaviors When Feeling an Ativan High?
Substance abuse sometimes goes hand-in-hand with engaging in risky and immoral behaviors. Driving while intoxicated, lying in order to get a new Ativan prescription, and performing risky acts like unprotected sex while intoxicated are all signs that your Ativan use is turning into abuse.
9. Have You Found Yourself Thinking More About Ativan In General?
Persistent and reoccurring thoughts of Ativan on your mind? Consistently thinking about how it’s going to feel to take your next dose? Do you find yourself preoccupied with thinking up ways to get your hands on more? These aren’t good signs…
10. Do You Need to Take More Ativan Than Before in Order to Feel Its Effects?
If so, this is a sure sign that you’re developing a tolerance. If you’ve noticed your Ativan dosage needs to be a bit higher lately, your mind and body have become accustomed to regularly having it in your system and are responding accordingly. Not having those same levels of the drug in your blood stream is what causes your body to go through Ativan withdrawals. So in a way, the two best indicators of physical tolerance (withdrawal and tolerance) are interconnected. And if you show signs of either, your dosing might be considered Ativan abuse.
11. Have You Tried to Cut Back on Your Ativan Use but Just Can’t Seem to Do It?
Last but not least, have you tried to tone down or even stop your Ativan usage entirely, but can never quite seem to make that leap? Do you always seem to come up with an excuse to put it off another week? If so, it sounds like you’re grappling with an Ativan addiction.
How Did You Stack Up?
Now that you’ve made it through, what do you think? Did you answer the majority of these questions with a sheepish “yes”? Even if you only responded in the affirmative on a couple of questions you still may want to consider the possibility that you’re in the beginning stages of a full-blown Ativan addiction. You owe it to yourself, and to the people that love you, to get the help you need to kick the Ativan bug before it starts controlling your life completely. So, talk to a qualified professional and be sure to seek out facilities that value evidence-based treatment when looking for a rehab center. Simply reading to the end of this article shows that you’re well on your way to a full recovery.
Drug Use and Health. Retrieved from https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUH-FFR2-2015/NSDUH-FFR2-2015.htm MedlinePlus (2017, May). Lorazepam. Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682053.html