What is Lorazepam?

Lorazepam, also branded Ativan and Lorazepam Intensol, is a drug approved for the treatment of anxiety, insomnia, sleep difficulty due to anxiety or stress, seizures, and a medication to work in conjunction with anesthesia. Most commonly taken as a pill, lorazepam also comes as an injection or liquid concentrate.

Benzodiazepines like lorazepam work by boosting the release of the neurotransmitter GABA in the brain. Normally, during moments of stress and tension, the brain produces GABA to neutralize extra adrenaline from when fight-or-flight was activated. With some mental health disorders, the brain does not produce enough of its own GABA, allowing the neurotransmitters usually managed by GABA to cause chronic feelings of panic and anxiety.

Lorazepam Effects

Ativan is a short-acting medication, meaning it begins working in 30-45 minutes after taking. Even if taken as advised by a doctor as part of a treatment regimen, lorazepam has side effects ranging in severity. These side effects can include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Tiredness
  • Weakness
  • Dry mouth
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Changes in appetite
  • Restlessness or excitement
  • Constipation
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Frequent urination
  • Blurred vision
  • Changes in sex drive or ability

Be sure to talk to your doctor about all side effects of lorazepam, as there are some not listed here that are signals emergency care is needed. If any of the symptoms listed above don’t go away, make sure to call your doctor.

Signs of Lorazepam Abuse and Addiction

If used in strict accordance with a doctor’s orders, lorazepam is unlikely to cause an addiction or abuse disorder. However, many people struggling with addiction started taking lorazepam as a medical prescription. Sometimes, abusers can develop sedative use disorder. Some signs someone may be struggling with sedative abuse include:

  • Taking too much lorazepam, or taking it for a longer period of time than expected
  • Unable to cut down on usage
  • Spends a large amount of time using lorazepam, getting Ativan, or recovering after using
  • Cravings for lorazepam or other benzodiazepines
  • Unable to perform to the necessary standard at work, school, or home because of lorazepam use
  • Continuing to use the drug even though doing so causes problems.
  • Repeatedly taking lorazepam even when it puts them or others in danger (e.g., driving)
  • Use of Ativan even though it causes or exacerbates existing psychological or physical problems
  • Tolerance for lorazepam or benzodiazepines

If you or someone you know is struggling with benzodiazepine or lorazepam abuse and addiction, contact a rehab treatment center for detox and recovery help.

Lorazepam Withdrawal Symptoms

Lorazepam’s short-acting nature means it may be difficult to differentiate between symptoms of withdrawal and anxiety disorders. Withdrawal symptoms can emerge one to four days after stopping benzodiazepine abuse. Withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Panic attacks
  • Palpitations
  • Hand tremors
  • Dry retching
  • Nausea
  • Changes in perception
  • Headache
  • Muscle stiffness or pain
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Irritability
  • Increased anxiety
  • Problems concentrating
  • Moderate weight loss

Sometimes, if someone has been abusing benzodiazepines like lorazepam for a long time, or their untreated anxiety is very severe, withdrawal symptoms need to be managed medically. Individuals with a high-dosage abuse history could develop seizures or psychosis. The best and safest way to detox from lorazepam  is under the supervision of a medical care team at a licensed and accredited treatment facility.

Long Term Side Effects of Lorazepam Abuse

Long-term use and abuse of Ativan have been linked to:

  • Overdose, sometimes fatal
  • Multi-drug abuse
  • Drowsiness
  • Poor concentration
  • Muscle weakness
  • Mental confusion
  • Vertigo
  • Episodic memory loss
  • Aggression
  • Hostility
  • Antisocial behavior
  • Depression
  • Emotional blunting
  • Birth defects in unborn babies
  • Short-term withdrawal symptoms, including seizures
  • Protracted withdrawal symptoms
  • Infection
  • Insomnia


Lorazepam Addiction Treatment

TruPath—a nationwide network of addiction treatment centers—offers a complete continuum of care at their treatment centers. Their levels of care revolve around dual diagnosis and holistic interventions in inpatient, outpatient, and partial hospitalization programs. TruPath clients have access to medical care, targeted therapy like CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) and individual, group, and family sessions, and a variety of recovery opportunities like counseling and transitional help. Call TruPath today to see how detox and drug rehab will set you on the right path to sober living.