Ativan Withdrawal Symptoms and Timeline
Ativan withdrawal can be dangerous. As a result, it is safest to detox under medical supervision. Learn more about Ativan withdrawal and how to detox safely.
Takeaways from this article:
Ativan side effects withdrawal symptoms
Ativan withdrawal symptoms timeline
When you are seeking treatment help for quitting Ativan, it is important to know that you may be at risk of going through a period of withdrawal during which a number of unpleasant symptoms arise. Knowing what to expect when you go through withdrawal can make the detox experience less daunting, and better set the stage for success in early recovery.
This article will help you understand Ativan withdrawal—the timeline, the symptoms, and the most appropriate way to detox. Recovering from compulsive Ativan use is not easy. Safe and effective recovery efforts often begin with professional medical support and treatment to best support you through Ativan detox and withdrawal. Studies have shown that people who receive cognitive-behavioral treatment in addition to being guided through a slow, controlled medication taper, may have the best chances for long-term abstinence from benzos than do people who only work on tapering their use of benzos.4
Ativan & Benzo Withdrawal Symptoms
Ativan—a brand name for lorazepam—is part of the class of prescription drugs known as benzodiazepines (benzos). Ativan is approved for use in treating anxiety, insomnia, and certain types of seizures; it may also be used as well as a pre-procedural sedative.1,2
Ativan use carries a risk of physical dependence, even when used under a doctor’s supervision on a prescribed dosing schedule. Ativan is classified by the DEA as a Schedule IV drug, which means its use may be associated with abuse and dependence.1 Ativan addiction may be, in part, driven by the tolerance that builds to the sedative effects of the drug. As you adapt to the effects of Ativan, you may find yourself wanting more and more of it to keep feeling the same sensations that the drug gave you when you first started taking it.3
physical dependence and attempts to avoid the associated withdrawal syndrome can also contribute to and maintain compulsive misuse of Ativan. If you’ve become physically dependent on Ativan and stop taking it, you may be at risk of experiencing the characteristically unpleasant signs and symptoms of benzodiazepine withdrawal.3
Symptoms of early Ativan withdrawal can include sweating, rapid heart rate, shakiness, confusion, and insomnia.2,4 However, some people experience more dangerous and potentially life-threatening seizures during benzo withdrawal. These withdrawal symptoms may be more likely with Ativan than some other benzos, as it is relatively high potency and short-acting.4
None of these symptoms are pleasant, and no one should go through this experience alone when help is available to support you through the process. Whether you detox on an inpatient or outpatient basis, treatment can provide you with the emotional support and medical oversight you need to successfully complete benzo withdrawal and help you avoid any dangerous outcomes due to seizures.
Ativan Withdrawal Timeline
People often experience an acute withdrawal phase with benzos like Ativan. Though individual experiences will vary somewhat, a general timeline for experiencing benzodiazepine withdrawal includes new symptom onset within 48 hours after stopping use. About 75% of people withdrawing from benzos will generally experience some acute symptoms, with many of these symptoms subsiding within 2 to 4 weeks.4 Many people also experience rebound symptoms of insomnia and anxiety after stopping Ativan; in some cases these symptoms may appear within several hours of the last dose.4
Though less well described in the scientific literature, some people who have achieved abstinence from benzodiazepines develop a more protracted course of certain withdrawal symptoms. There are reports of various types of post-acute withdrawal symptoms persisting for up to 12 months after benzo use stops. Reported symptoms vary, but may include persistent depression, anxiety, insomnia, and cognitive impairments. Persistent somatic symptoms include gastrointestinal disturbances, numbness and tingling in the hands and feet, ringing in the ears, as well as muscle pain, shaking, and uncontrollable movements.4
It is hard to know exactly how you will react to benzo withdrawal. Factors that influence the character and severity of withdrawal might include how long you took Ativan and how high your dosage was, as well as whether or not you have underlying medical or mental conditions.5
Should I Quit Ativan Cold Turkey?
You may wonder if you can quit benzos cold turkey. It may seem tempting to stop taking Ativan on your own and avoid going through the effort of finding a treatment program. However, it is critical to understand that Ativan withdrawal can be markedly unpleasant and present extreme challenges to early recovery. And, though some of the most severe withdrawal complications such as seizures are relatively rare, they can be dangerous if not medically managed.4
In addition to the potential for risky complications, should you attempt to detox at home, you might find yourself quickly looking for ways to ease the highly uncomfortable Ativan withdrawal syndrome. Without professional support, unchecked cravings for Ativan might also contribute to a return to using. Professional Ativan detox and withdrawal management programs can ease this difficult process and can help people safely transition into additional treatment for compulsive substance use issues.5
Detox & Rehab for Ativan Withdrawal
In contrast to undergoing an Ativan detox at home, getting into a medical detox program will provide you with the safety and stabilization that you need during this critical time. The last thing that you want is to experience severe side effects, especially seizures. In a detox program where you have 24/7 medical oversight, you can be monitored for serious withdrawal symptoms. Staff can quickly assist you if any negative outcomes arise.
Another important benefit of a detox and treatment program is that your doctor can prescribe medications that will help ease your withdrawal symptoms. Doctors often use medications to help with an Ativan detox. They may substitute another type of benzo—often a relatively long acting agent such as Librium (chlordiazepoxide)—to help you slowly taper off.5
As noted earlier, most people experience acute withdrawal symptoms in the first 48 hours after they stop taking Ativan. In the acute withdrawal period, the need for supervision and medical support may be highest, however treatment doesn’t end here. After you have completed detox and the acute withdrawal period has been safely managed, ongoing rehabilitation can help you continue working toward a successful long-term recovery from benzo addiction.
- (2020). Benzodiazepines.
- S. Department of Health and Human Services —U.S. Food & Drug Administration. (2016). Labeling-Medication Guide: Ativan.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2020). Is there a difference between physical abuse and addiction?
- Cosci, F., & Chouinard, G. (2020). Acute and persistent withdrawal syndromes following discontinuation of psychotropic medications.Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 1-24.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2015). TIP 45: Detoxification and Substance Abuse Treatment.