Ativan (lorazepam) is an anti-anxiety medication in the benzodiazepine class that is commonly prescribed for short-term relief of anxiety.1
Long-term, regular users can build tolerance to the drug. Many people who build a tolerance begin to take the drug in increasingly large doses. The accelerated patterns of use can lead to Ativan dependence, a point at which the person’s brain and body will function poorly without the drug. People who become dependent may experience certain withdrawal signs and symptoms when their use of the drug is suddenly stopped or reduced.
The symptoms can include anxiety, insomnia, nausea, depression, tremors, and seizures. These symptoms can being within 6-8 hours after last use and last 4-7 days, though some symptoms may linger for weeks.
Because some Ativan withdrawal symptoms can be severe and even potentially life-threatening,1 it is safest to detox under medical supervision in a professional detox center.
Signs, Symptoms, and Effects
Ativan Withdrawal Treatment
Treatment for Ativan withdrawal can include tapering or the use of medications.
Ativan withdrawal symptoms can vary from person to person depending on a number of factors, including:2
- Individual physiology.
- Severity of addiction.
- Dose used.
- Length of use.
- Method of use.
- Abuse of other drugs and/or alcohol.
- Co-occurring physical or mental health conditions.
The most common Ativan withdrawal signs and symptoms include: 1,2
- Rebound anxiety.
- Panic attacks.
- Short-term memory loss.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Abdominal cramps.
- Appetite loss.
- Elevated heartrate.
- Numbness or tingling of extremities.
- Increased sensitivity to light and/or sound.
- Perception changes.
Post-acute withdrawal symptoms occur after the initial withdrawal period.
Protracted withdrawal, also referred to as post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS), can occur in people who have recently quit using Ativan – especially people who abused the drug over a long period of time.
Post-acute withdrawal refers to signs and symptoms that occur after the initial withdrawal period has ended. PAWS symptoms may occur after weeks or months of no symptoms following the withdrawal process. Because symptoms can take some time to appear, many people do not realize they are the result of PAWS.
Protracted Ativan withdrawal effects can last for months, but they will eventually subside after a period of prolonged sobriety. Some common post-acute withdrawal symptoms that a person may experience include:3
- Rebound anxiety.
- Re-emergence of acute withdrawal symptoms (insomnia and irritability).
- Memory problems.
- Difficulty focusing.
Those who have completed an Ativan addiction recovery program may want to follow up with an aftercare program to prevent relapse and other possible complications from post-acute withdrawal effects. Aftercare options include individual and group counseling, 12-step meetings, and sober residences.
Much like the symptoms, the Ativan withdrawal timeline can vary from person to person. The average timeline for acute withdrawal from Ativan and other benzodiazepines is around 1-4 weeks, or 3-5 weeks if use is tapered slowly rather than abruptly.3
|6-8 hours.||Ativan withdrawal effects can begin as soon as 6-8 hours after the last dose. 4|
|2-4 days.||Symptoms rise in intensity and peak. Signs and symptoms can include tremors, elevated blood pressure, agitation, anxiety, depression, disorientation, hallucinations, and suicidal thoughts. 4,5|
|4-7 days.||Symptoms begin to fade, but can linger for several weeks. 4,5|
Ativan withdrawal effects can lead to many medical complications, some of which can be serious and life-threatening. Some of the possible physical and mental health complications a person may experience when detoxing from Ativan include:1,2
- Heart problems.
- Panic attacks.
- Suicidal thoughts.
Because Ativan withdrawal symptoms can be severe and potentially life-threatening, it is safest for a person to detox under medical supervision. Quitting on your own can increase the severity of withdrawal symptoms and medical complications as well as the risk of relapse.
Those with more severe Ativan dependence may need to attend an inpatient detox center where they can receive 24/7 medical monitoring. Professional detox centers can provide medications to help ease withdrawal symptoms and maximize comfort. After completing detox, one will typically attend a rehabilitation center for further addiction treatment services such as individual and group counseling, peer support, and relapse prevention.
Consider a professional detox center for medical care and supervision of Ativan withdrawal signs and symptoms. To learn more about detox centers near you, contact our recovery hotline by phone at 1-888-935-1318Who Answers?.
Read next: Ativan Withdrawal Help and Medications
. Food and Drug Administration (2007). Ativan.
. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2013). Detoxification and Substance Abuse Treatment.
. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2010). Substance Abuse Treatment Advisory: Protracted Withdrawal.
. Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM-5. (2013). Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Association.
. Miller, N. S., & Gold, M. S. (1998). Management of withdrawal syndromes and relapse prevention in drug and alcohol dependence. American family physician, 58, 139-152.