Ativan, also known as Lorazepam, is a benzodiazepine medication that is available only by prescription. Ativan is prescribed to treat seizures, sleeping disorders, alcohol withdrawal, symptoms related to chemotherapy treatment (i.e., nausea, vomiting), and anxiety disorders. Ativan may also be administered during surgery to sedate patients and to hinder memory formation.
Ativan in its physical form is an insoluble white powder. Ativan is available in tablet form and as a solution meant for injection. Ativan may also be administered through an oral solution, sublingual tablet, or skin patch. Ativan may be administered through intramuscular injection or by mouth. If administered through injection, the effects of Ativan may be seen anywhere between one to thirty minutes and the effects will last for approximately 24 hours.
Ativan is one of the classic benzodiazepines and is included in this group with diazepam, clorazepate, bromazepam, nitrazepam, flurazepam, oxazepam, and clonazepam. As of 2017, Ativan was the 60th most prescribed medication in the United States. In 2017, more than 12 million prescriptions were written for Ativan.
Physical Signs that Someone Has Taken Ativan
There are several physical side effects that can be seen when Ativan is administered. Common side effects of Ativan include sleepiness, weakness, decreased breathing, irregular breathing, and low blood pressure. Individuals with pre-exisiting mental health conditions like depression may have an increased risk of suicide when taking Ativan. Long-term use of Ativan may cause psychological dependence and psychical dependence. If the use of Ativan is suddenly stopped, benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome may occur.
Benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome includes a cluster of physical symptoms and signs such as irritability, sleep disturbance, panic attacks, increased anxiety and tension, sweating, shaking, hand tremor, weight loss, nausea, memory issues, cognitive difficulty, confusion, headache palpitations, hallucinations, psychosis, and seizures. Increased adverse effects of Ativan may occur when taken with other medications like hypnotics or opioid medications. Certain anti-epileptic drugs, alcohol, antihistamines, and antipsychotics may lead to enhanced effects of sedation.
Withdrawal symptoms related to Ativan may been seen after taking the medication for at least one week. The withdrawal symptoms can include the following: headache, depression, anxiety, tension, insomnia, confusion, restlessness, dysphoria, dizziness, sweating, irritability, derealization, numbness, depersonalization, hypersensitivity to sound, hypersensitivity to smell, hypersensitivity to light, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, delirium, tremor, hallucinations, loss of appetite, palpitations, agitation, panic attacks, hyperthermia, and memory loss.
Contraindications of Ativan Use
There are several preexisting conditions that may exist in individuals who should not take Ativan. The use of Ativan should be avoided in individuals with the following conditions:
- Allergy or Hypersensitivity – Individuals who have experienced allergy or hypersensitivity to any benzodiazepine, including Ativan.
- Ataxia – A neurological clinical issue that is shown through clumsiness of the limbs and torso, which is due to issues with gross muscle coordination and movement. This is seen most often when walking or standing.
- Acute Intoxication – Ativan may interact with the effects of narcotics, alcohol, or other psychotropic medications or substances.
- Respiratory Failure – Ativan and other benzodiazepines may affect the central nervous system and should not be administered to individuals with severe asthma or other lung disease.
- Pregnancy and Breastfeeding – Ativan is a category D medication within the Food and Drug Administration. This means that taking Ativan will most likely cause harm to a developing fetus. Taking Ativan during the third trimester of pregnancy carries the risk of infant benzodiazepine withdrawal.
- Sleep Apnea – The symptoms of sleep apnea can be worsened by Ativan use, as well as reducing the ability to protect the airway during sleep.
Recreational Use of Ativan
Ativan is sometimes used recreationally, either by continuing long-term use against medical advice or in order to achieve a high. Sexual predators may also use Ativan on unknowing victims in order to take advantage of them. Benzodiazepines have been found to be the highest used drugs when looking at emergency department visits for drugs used outside their prescribed medical purpose.
Overdose of Ativan can cause the following symptoms: drowsiness, ataxia, paradoxical reactions, mental confusion, dysathria, hypotonia, hypotension, coma, hypnotic state, respiratory depression, cardiovascular depression, and death. If you or a loved one needs information regarding Ativan use, please give us a call at 833-762-3739. We look forward to speaking with you!