Ativan is a prescription medication used to treat several different medical issues. It is most widely used for epilepsy, insomnia as well as anxiety. It is a highly addictive Benzodiazepine, which is otherwise known as “benzos.” Ativan requires a prescription from a doctor and typically recommended for short-term usage.

Ativan is the brand name of the drug while the generic name is Lorazepam. According to, “The usual dose of Ativan for treating anxiety is 2-3 mg/day given in two or three divided doses. Insomnia is treated with 2-4 mg given at bedtime.”

The standard dosage will typically have lasting effects for 10-20 hours.  Because of this, it is known as an “intermediate-duration drug” and is usually is not prescribed for longer than four months at a time because of its high potency and the tendency for addiction.

How Does Ativan Addiction Start?

Most people prescribed to Ativan don’t realize they can become addicted, which is very common among those who use this drug.

Over time, taking larger doses to reap the same effects can cause a person to become dependent on the drug both physically and psychologically.

Signs Of Ativan Addiction

Perhaps the biggest signs of Ativan addiction are cravings and a built up tolerance level that requires higher doses. Most who become addicted tend to isolate, become aggressive and slack off on daily responsibilities.

Ativan is a drug that affects the central nervous system by binding cells with the GABA receptors located there, thus causing extreme relaxation, therapeutic effects, and calmness.

Therefore, when the effects wear off, the user will seek more of the drug to return to these peaceful and anxiety free states.

Someone may have an Ativan addiction if they are showing signs such as severe lethargy, weakened muscle strength, uncontrollable drowsiness, hypnotic states, coma, and, in rare cases, death.

Symptoms of Ativan Abuse

Symptoms of Ativan addiction can vary depending on the dosage taken, the length of their Ativan abuse, and the manner in which the drug is abused. Typically someone who is addicted will display the following behaviors if they are addicted.

  • Stealing, lying or being abnormally unreliable
  • Borrowing or stealing Ativan from others
  • Over self-inflicted sedation
  • Confusion
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Slurred speech
  • Lack of coordination
  • Withdrawing socially from situations and events
  • Agitation or violent behavior
  • Impaired judgment
  • “Doctor shopping” (Frequenting different physicians to obtain more Ativan and multiple prescriptions)
  • Not handling financial commitments

When well-being, health or daily obligations such as work, home or family are not treated or cared for, this can also be a significant indication of intentional Ativan abuse. Often people will become aggressive or defensive while denying or trying to rationalize behavior that causes them to chase after the drug.

Ativan vs. Xanax

Xanax is a popular prescription drug in the same family of benzos as Ativan. A lot of people may wonder what is the difference in Ativan vs. Xanax. The main differences are the dosage amounts, the potency and primary usage of each.

Xanax is mainly used to treat panic attacks and social anxiety and has a shorter half-life. While Ativan is predominantly used for insomnia, epilepsy, and anxiety, and has a longer half-life. Both are equally  addicting and habit forming.

Mixing Ativan and Alcohol

Another sign may be that the individual is pairing Ativan with other substances such as alcohol. Ativan and alcohol are a dangerous combination and using them together will create a much stronger effect of the drug. The problem with pairing Ativan and alcohol together is that it may seem harmless, but can become an accidental overdose very quickly.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration, just over 50,000 people made emergency room visits in 2011 because of Lorazepam abuse in particular, and patient admissions for Benzodiazepine were also abusing another substance in conjunction with it.

If any of these behaviors are familiar to you or sound like those of a family member, it may be time to get professional help from an addiction specialist.

Dangerous Withdrawal

Ativan withdrawal symptoms can be extremely uncomfortable, and it is the kind of drug that you do not want to stop abruptly taking.  Due to the problematic physical withdrawal symptoms, Ativan rehabilitation programs highly recommend a slow tapering off of the drug.

Some of the possible side effects that can appear during Ativan withdrawal include:

  • Body aches and pains
  • Convulsions or Seizures
  • Mood swings
  • Shortness of breath
  • Vomiting
  • Insomnia
  • Intensive rage
  • Body Tremors

Due to the intense nature of Ativan withdrawal symptoms, Ativan detox programs may also be recommended to come off of an Ativan addiction and are usually a vital part of the treatment process.

Acute withdrawal can begin in as short as 10 hours from the last dosage. Each person varies in how long withdrawal symptoms can last based on different variables. Full-blown acute withdrawal, as well as protracted withdrawal, can set in and last for ten days to months depending on the severity of the addiction and abuse of Ativan.

Getting Treatment

It’s advised to find an Ativan treatment facility that specializes in this kind substance abuse and a detox center that can help with rebound symptoms often caused by the discontinued use of Ativan.

Ativan users stand the best chance at successful recovery by receiving treatment from an inpatient or outpatient rehab facility. Treatment programs help make the detox process more comfortable and also help educate and support people through the process of recovery.

When a recovering Ativan addict feels backed up by these relationships, groups and education, this can help lead them to a happier, addiction-free way-of-living that allows them to integrate back into their normal daily routines and life. Help is available, and recovery is possible from Ativan addiction.

By – Carly Benson
With over 11 years of recovery under her belt from alcohol and cocaine, Carly Benson has become a faithful believer in miracles, a writer and a person living a mindfully alcohol-free lifestyle. Read more

Omudhome,Ogbru. PharmD. Ativan Side Effects Center. Web. 04.02.2015. <>.

THE DAWN REPORT: Highlights of the 2011 Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN)
Findings on Drug-Related Emergency Department Visits. SAMHSA. 22 Feb 2013. Web. 24 Apr 2016. <>

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery 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.