Ativan is becoming an increasingly abused anti-anxiety drug and the signs of Ativan addiction aren’t always so clear. Here are the warning signs you’re missing and what you can do to help
While everyone experiences anxiety from time to time, many Americans suffer from debilitating anxiety disorders. These conditions can lead to symptoms like panic attacks, nausea, and loss of sleep.
Studies show that 1 in 6 Americans takes a psychiatric drug, with anti-anxiety drugs being one of the most common. For people with anxiety disorders, anti-anxiety medications like Ativan can be a life-saving treatment.
In some cases, however, these drugs can become habit-forming, and lead to an addiction. Ativan addiction is a serious problem that often goes unnoticed because family members do not recognize the symptoms.
If you are concerned that you or someone you know might be struggling with an Ativan addiction, then keep reading. Here are some signs that are important to watch for.
What is Ativan?
Ativan, also known by the generic name Lorazepam, is a prescription drug that is used to treat anxiety, insomnia, and seizures. Ativan, Valium, and Xanax are all in a class of drugs called Benzodiazepines, which generally have a tranquilizing effect.
When taken as prescribed, Ativan is generally safe for treating anxiety disorders. Unfortunately, like many other prescription drugs, Ativan is often abused, which can lead to addiction.
What Causes Ativan Addiction?
Studies show that 70% of Americans who are addicted to prescription drugs get them from a friend or family member with a prescription. In many cases, an individual with access to Ativan decides to take the drug recreationally, and thereby develop an addiction. Or, an individual may feign symptoms of an anxiety disorder so they can obtain an Ativan prescription.
In other cases, however, patients who have been prescribed Ativan develop addictions. The patient may develop a resistance to the drug, so they start taking more than they were advised to. Other patients have a stronger reaction to Ativan than others, making them more susceptible to addiction.
Signs of Chronic Ativan Abuse
For many reasons, Ativan addiction can be difficult to spot. For one, many individuals with Ativan addiction have a legitimate prescription, so their friends and family might not suspect a problem. In other cases, the warning signs might not be severe enough to suggest a problem.
Even so, there are some common indicators of Ativan addiction to watch out for.
Needing More of the Drug
In many cases, the person with the Ativan addiction is the last to know. If you’ve been prescribed Ativan for an anxiety disorder, it’s important to pay attention to how your body is responding to it. This will help you identify whether you’re developing an addiction.
Over time, you may notice that your prescribed dosage does not manage your anxiety symptoms the way it used to. Or, perhaps you started taking the drug to deal with occasional panic attacks, but have noticed that the panic attacks happen more often if you don’t take the drug every day. If this is the case, talk to your doctor about your symptoms and dosage, rather than taking more of the drug.
Common Ativan Side Effects
If a friend or loved one is taking Ativan, you may not know whether they’re taking more of the drug than they used to. In these cases, you should watch to see if they display negative side effects of Ativan abuse.
Some of the most common side effects are related to the patient’s mood and personality. For instance, you may notice drowsiness, slowed reaction time, or memory problems. Other demonstrate impaired decision-making, as well as agitation and depression.
There are also physical symptoms you might notice. For instance, many patients develop a skin rash or respiratory problems. In extreme cases, an individual may experience excessive sedation and have difficulty waking from sleep.
Signs of Ativan Withdrawal
Another indicator of Ativan addiction is Ativan withdrawal. If you are taking Ativan, and you notice these symptoms when you don’t take the drug, you should consult your doctor.
Common symptoms of withdrawal include loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, dizziness, sweating, tremors, and difficulty sleeping. The individual may also become aggressive or irritable if they start experience cravings for the drug.
Other Warning Signs
If you’ve noticed one or more of the above signs in either yourself or someone you know, it may be time to contact a professional. If you are still unsure, however, there are some additional signals that may indicate a serious problem.
For instance, an individual developing a drug dependence will often demonstrate a loss of interest in matters that were once important to them. This includes spending time with friends and family, focusing on work and school, and taking care of personal hygiene.
Also, many individuals who abuse Ativan will also abuse other substances. Alcohol abuse is often comorbid with Ativan abuse and can lead to serious (even lethal) consequences.
Dangers of Long Term Ativan Abuse
If you believe you or someone you know is abusing Ativan, it’s important to get help. Left untreated, Ativan abuse can lead to several serious problems.
In some cases, long term abuse can lead to permanent cognitive problems, including memory loss and learning difficulties. Abuse can also lead to bleeding in the intestinal tract, as well as kidney problems.
One of the greatest risks of Ativan abuse is an overdose. Many Ativan addicts overdose accidentally since they need more of the drug in order to achieve the same effect. In these cases, an overdose can lead to a coma, and even to death.
Next Steps for Treating Ativan Addiction
While addiction can be harmful, and even deadly, there are steps that can be taken to treat it. With the right support, patients can achieve sobriety.
When treating Ativan addiction, it’s important to get professional help. Quitting Ativan “cold turkey” can lead to severe withdrawal, which can create additional problems. An inpatient or outpatient recovery program will be able to help the patient safely navigate the detox phase.
If you or someone you know needs help fighting an Ativan addiction, contact us. Our addiction specialists will speak with you confidentially to connect you with the support you need.