Ativan Side Effects

Ativan Addiction

Ativan is a member of the class of drugs called benzodiazepines which are commonly used in the treatment of anxiety and panic disorder. Ativan like most benzodiazepines is best used by most patients on an as needed basis and when taken in frequently dependence or addiction is seldom a problem. A major problem with Ativan as well as with other benzodiazepines is that physical dependence develops with regular use such that on discontinuation of Ativan users develop the benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome. Unfortunately Ativan withdrawal symptoms can mimic the symptoms of anxiety or panic that were initially indication for taking the medication.

Physical dependence Ativan is not necessarily the same as Ativan addiction. Uses of Ativan often experience a sense of calm this or well-being that is a welcome relief from the anxiety that these individuals often experience. In this sense Ativan addiction can be both psychological and physical. When Ativan is used in moderate high doses for longer periods of time the receptors called GABA receptors in the brain become desensitized and an increased sensitization of the glutamate receptors in the brain develops. Because of this on discontinuation of Ativan in these situations is often encountered. This physical dependence is very common and can lead to difficulty getting off Ativan.

Ativan addiction is usually a term reserved for patients with psychologic dependence to the anticipated effects of Ativan including sedation, the calming effect and sleep. In patients with Ativan addiction typically dose escalation is noted as well as drug seeking behaviors like seeing multiple physicians, losing prescriptions are having them stolen, and requesting higher doses to achieve therapeutic benefit. In cases of addiction withdrawal from both physical and psychologic dependence becomes a very difficult problem for patients and the physicians to deal with. Short acting benzodiazepines like Ativan are potentially more prone to causing addiction because after each individual dose starts to wear off my withdrawal symptoms occur which are relieved by taking the next dose. This adds to the psychologic need for the medication.

Management of Ativan addiction is difficult. After moderate long-term use of benzodiazepines but taper in dosage is required to avoid potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms. Abrupt withdrawal of high-dose benzodiazepine therapy can lead to seizures and he can be potentially life-threatening. Most physicians recommend a gradual taper off benzodiazepines if they’ve been used for a long period of time. Still this is very difficult for many patients and often patients with Ativan addiction will find ways to circumvent the intent of the gradual taper. Examples are getting medication online, buying from a black market sources, and seeing multiple physicians for prescriptions without telling the physicians of the other prescribers.

Summary Ativan addiction is of relatively common problem although physical dependence to a stable dose of Ativan is a much more common scenario. In stable long-term Ativan therapy some physicians feel that simply continuation of the stable Ativan dosage is except all while others feel that gradual taper and discontinuation of the Ativan is important. In situations of Ativan addiction finding a way to gradually taper and discontinue the medication is likely much more important.


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