Ativan Addiction: Side Effects, Symptoms, & Treatment

Table of Contents

Ativan is a benzodiazepine commonly prescribed to treat various health conditions, including anxiety disorder. Ativan addiction may develop over time, though, even when the benzo is used as directed by a healthcare provider. Read on to learn about the addictive nature of this benzodiazepine, and discover how to connect with evidence-based care in Ohio.

Is Ativan Addictive?

Ativan is classified as a Schedule IV controlled substance in the United States, indicating a potential risk for abuse, addiction, and dependence.

People are most vulnerable to Ativan addiction when they exceed recommended dosages, misuse the drug for nonmedical purposes, or combine Ativan with other tranquilizing substances such as alcohol, prescription pain relievers, or sleep aids.

Extended use of Ativan for more than 2 to 3 weeks can lead to the nervous system adapting to the drug’s effects. This adaptation often results in a phenomenon known as tolerance, where patients may require higher doses to alleviate symptoms. Tolerance, in turn, can lead to dependence – either physical or psychological reliance on the drug to feel normal. Without appropriate intervention, continued misuse of Ativan or failure to reduce the dosage can escalate from tolerance to dependence and ultimately culminate in addiction. Addiction, clinically describe as substance use disorder, is a progressive condition that instigates a compelling urge to seek and use the drug compulsively.

A woman, pensive, after learning about Ativan addiction symptoms

How Long Does It Take to Get Addicted to Ativan?

The timeframe for developing an addiction to Ativan varies among individuals and is influenced by factors such as dosage, frequency of use, and individual susceptibility. Generally, the risk of addiction increases with prolonged use. Key factors that influence how long it takes to get addicted to Ativan include:

  • Duration of use: The longer Ativan is used, the greater the likelihood of developing tolerance and dependence. Continuous use over several weeks can heighten the risk.
  • Dosage and frequency: Higher doses or more frequent use may expedite the development of tolerance and increase the potential for addiction.
  • Individual variability: Each person responds differently to medication. Some individuals may be more prone to developing an addiction due to genetic, environmental, or psychological factors.
  • Co-occurring substance use: Combining Ativan with other substances, especially those with sedative effects like alcohol or opioids, can intensify the risk of addiction.

While addiction can occur in a relatively short period for some individuals, it may take longer for others. It is vital for those using Ativan to adhere strictly to prescribed dosages, durations, and medical guidance. If there are concerns about dependence or addiction, consulting with a healthcare professional can enable proper evaluation and intervention.

Ativan Addiction Side Effects

As individuals grapple with Ativan use, certain side effects may manifest, especially when under the influence of the drug. These side effects can include both physical and psychological aspects and may include:

  • Sleepiness
  • Slurred speech
  • Coordination problems
  • Euphoria
  • Concentration difficulties
  • Memory problems
  • Involuntary eye movements
  • Lack of inhibition
  • Slowed breathing
  • Low blood pressure
  • Dizziness
  • Low mood

Despite the recommended short-term use outlined in Ativan’s package labeling, some people extend their usage over an extended period. Long-term Ativan use poses potential risks and side effects, including:

  • Prolonged cognitive impairment
  • Increased susceptibility to hip fractures
  • Elevated risk of motor vehicle crashes

Beyond this, given its classification as a controlled substance, persistent Ativan use heightens the risk of addiction over the long term, regardless of the duration of use. Vigilance and awareness of these potential consequences are crucial for individuals using Ativan, prompting the need for careful monitoring and professional guidance.

Ativan Addiction Symptoms

Ativan addiction, classified within DSM-5-TR (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) under substance use disorders, encompasses an array of symptoms, including:

  1. Difficulty in regulating or reducing Ativan use, despite attempts to do so.
  2. Adverse effects on social relationships and functioning, such as conflicts within interpersonal relationships.
  3. Engagement in hazardous activities while under the influence of Ativan, despite awareness of potential harm.
  4. Developing a tolerance to Ativan, necessitating higher doses over time to achieve the desired effects.
  5. Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when attempting to reduce or discontinue Ativan use.
  6. Intense desires or cravings for Ativan, leading to compulsive drug-seeking behavior.
  7. Neglecting essential obligations in favor of Ativan use.
  8. A significant amount of time spent obtaining, using, or recovering from the effects of Ativan.
  9. Diminished interest in activities that were once enjoyable or meaningful.
  10. Persisting in Ativan use despite awareness of its negative consequences on physical, psychological, or social well-being.
  11. Developing a reliance on Ativan to function normally, either physically or psychologically.

Recognition of these symptoms is pivotal for identifying and addressing Ativan addiction. Seeking professional assistance for a comprehensive evaluation and tailored intervention is crucial for individuals exhibiting these signs.

columbus ohio rehab downtown, where addiction treatment is available at Ohio Recovery Centers

Get Treatment for Ativan Addiction at Ohio Recovery Centers

If you or a family member have been abusing prescription medications like Ativan, we can help you recalibrate your life at Ohio Recovery Centers in Cincinnati, OH.

We appreciate that not everyone wants or needs residential rehab when addressing issues of prescription drug misuse. Choose from a variety of flexible, affordable outpatient programs at our Cincinnati treatment facility while continuing to fulfill your daily commitments.

All Ohio Recovery Centers treatment programs offer a personalized mix of holistic, behavioral, and pharmacological treatments, enabling you to initiate whole-body healing from addictive behaviors. Dial 877-679-2132 when you are ready to move beyond substance abuse.

Table of Contents

an image of author Joe Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore has been working in the addiction industry for half a decade and has been writing about addiction and substance abuse treatment during that time. He has experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.
An image of Ohio Community Health staff

Christopher Glover CDCA

My name is Christopher Glover, and I am from Cincinnati, Ohio. I am currently in school and working to grow in competence to better support our community. As a recovering individual I know the struggles that you or a loved one can go through and that there is help for anything you may be struggling with.

The hardest part is asking for help and we are here as a team to best support you and your decision to start your journey towards a better future. Connect with Chris on LinkedIn

An image of Ohio Community Health staff

Amanda Kuchenberg PRS CDCA

I recently joined Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers as a Clinical Case Manager. I am originally from Wisconsin but settled in the Cincinnati area in my early 20s.  My career started in the fashion industry but quickly changed as I searched to find my drive and passion through helping others who struggle with addiction. 

As someone who is also in recovery, I wanted to provide hope, share lived experience, and support others on their journey.  I currently have my Peer Recovery Support Supervision Certification along with my CDCA and plan to continue my education with University of Cincinnati so I can continue to aid in the battle against substance addiction. Connect with Amanda on LinkedIn.

An image of Ohio Community Health staff

Patrick McCamley LCDC III

 Patrick McCamley (Clinical Therapist) is a Cincinnati native who has worked in substance use disorder/co-occurring mental health disorder treatment since 2019. Patrick received his bachelors degree in psychology from University of Cincinnati in 2021 and received his LCDC III (Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor) license from the Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals Board in 2022. Patrick has worked in Clinical Operations, Clinical Case Management, and Clinical Therapy throughout his career.

Patrick has tremendous empathy and compassion for the recovery community, being in recovery himself since 2018. Patrick is uniquely qualified to be helpful because of the specific combination of his academic background and his own experience in recovery.

An image of Ohio Community Health staff

Bill Zimmerman CDCA

Bill Zimmerman is a Greater Cincinnati Area native who has worked in substance use disorder/co-occurring mental health disorder treatment since 2018. Bill received his (Chemical Dependency Counselor Assistant) license from the Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals Board in 2020.

Bill has worked in Clinical Operations in both support and supervision, and Program facilitating and 12 step recovery support during his career. Bill has a passion for the recovery community, having been in recovery himself since 1982. Connect with Bill on LinkedIn

An image of Ohio Community Health staff

Taylor Lilley CDCA, PRS

Growing up in Louisiana with addiction running rampant on both sides of my family. A life away from drugs and alcohol seemed impossible for someone like me. I remember what it was like sitting across from someone thinking there is no way they could ever understand what I was going through.

Sharing my experience offers a credibility and a certain type of trust with clients that only someone who has walked down this road can illustrate. To immerse myself further into the field of addiction, I am currently studying at Cincinnati State for Human and Social Services.  I hope I never forget where I came from, if I can do it, so can you!

An image of Ohio Community Health staff

Thomas Hunter LSW

Hello my name is Thomas Hunter. I was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. I am a licensed social worker.In my scope of practice I have worked in the areas of mental health and recovery for thirty years. The clients I have worked with in my career have ranged in age from seven to seventy.

I strive each day to serve my purpose of helping those in need and I believe I do so by utilizing all of my experiences to accomplish my goal of supporting those who desire to establish their sobriety and maintain it in their recovery. Connect with Thomas on LinkedIn.

An image of Ohio Community Health staff

Mary D.Porter,LICDC

 My name is Mary D. Porter. I received my Masters of Social Work in 2008 from The University of Cincinnati. I received My Licensed Independent Chemical Dependency Counselor Licensure in 2001. I retired from The Department of Veteran Affairs Medical Center on April 14, 2014. Currently, I am the Associate Clinical Director for The Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers in Cincinnati.. Due to the fourth wave of the Opioid Epidemic in 2019,  I decided to enter back into the workforce to assist the addicted population.

The overdoses were astounding and I wanted to help.  I consider myself  to be an advocate for the addicted population. My compassion, resilience, empathy, wisdom, knowledge, experience and  love I have for this forgotten population goes beyond words. I consider what I do for the addicted population as a calling versus a “career,” because I too was once an “addict and alcoholic.” Today I am 45.5 years alcohol and substance free.

An image of Ohio Community Health staff

Ben Lemmon LCDC III

Hello, my name is Ben Lemmon, and I’m the Vice President and Clinical Director at Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers. I’ve been working in the addiction and mental health field since 2013 and decided to enter the field after overcoming my own challenges with addiction.

When I first meet a client, I always explain to them that the reason we are meeting is because they are not capable of obtaining or maintaining sobriety, and my goal is to create a person that can maintain sobriety. I believe a person’s personality is made up of their thoughts, feelings and actions and my job is to help clients identify the thoughts, feelings and actions that have them disconnected from recovery and provide them with the tools to live a healthy and happy life. Connect with Ben on LinkedIn