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Understanding Ativan Abuse
Ativan, a highly-potent medication that is commonly prescribed for the treatment of anxiety disorders, has a wide potential for abuse and misuse. This powerful benzodiazepine binds to cells located in the GABA receptors to provide therapeutic and relaxing effects that can help to ease tension and anxiety. Unfortunately, the medication is both highly addictive and habit-forming which means that any abuse of Ativan poses significant dangers to the user.
Dangers of Ativan Abuse
Long-term use of Ativan can lead to an increased tolerance toward the drug and may result in physical dependence. Abruptly quitting the use of this medication, whether it has been prescribed or it is being used for recreational purposes can lead to withdrawal syndrome which may pose serious health risks including seizures for the user.
Cognitive impairment can result from long-term Ativan use. For this reason, the medication is not generally recommended for treatment periods of more than two to four weeks. Unfortunately, the long term side effects and dangers that come from Ativan abuse often linger long after the drug is no longer being used.
Respiratory depression and other serious side effects can result when Ativan is used with other drugs or alcohol. Taking Ativan in conjunction with other substances can cause serious danger including coma and possibly even death.
What Causes Ativan Abuse
The reasons why people abuse Ativan differ greatly from one user to the next. Some find that they like the feeling they get from the drug when they are trying to mask emotions or problems; others feel like they can perform or think or feel better with the drug; others take the drug for a legitimate purpose such as to cope with anxiety but fall victim to the abusive use because they are overly comfortable with the changes that are occurring within their body while they are under the influence of the drug.
Genetic factors may be partially to blame for Ativan addiction in some people. People who have close relatives who struggle with addiction are more likely to struggle with addiction themselves. Additionally, brain chemistry may also be to blame as studies have found that people who become addicted to Ativan may lack the chemical properties necessary to produce natural feelings of euphoria and pleasure.
Stress, growing up around an addict, living with an addict, and suffering from extreme trauma or abuse as well as other environmental factors may also be to blame for Ativan addiction. Likewise, psychological elements such as an underlying mental illness may be at the root of an Ativan addiction.
Ultimately, the causes of Ativan abuse and addiction depend on a variety of individual and personal elements. Some people are addicted because they cannot find any other way to feel good, others are addicted because they simply are doing what they can to mask their emotions, still others are addicted because they have made an honest attempt to self-medicate an underlying mental illness such as anxiety or depression.
Signs of Ativan Abuse
A variety of signs may signify a case of Ativan abuse. Each individual will experience different symptoms and may show more (or fewer) signs of abuse. Some of the most common signs of Ativan abuse include:
- changes in mental stability
- mood changes
- loss of memory
- agitation or irritation
- social withdrawal
- lack of productivity
- relationship problems
- muscle weakness
- slurred speech
- respiratory depression
- nausea or vomiting
Negative Effects of Ativan Abuse
Abusing Ativan can cause an array of potentially negative side effects and consequences that will impact the user’s life. The most commonly touted negative effects of Ativan abuse include:
- cognitive impairment
- liver or kidney failure
- heightened anxiety
- respiratory failure
- legal troubles
- relationship troubles
- job loss
- preoccupation with Ativan
Signs of Ativan Addiction
Unlike Ativan abuse which may present with signs of overuse and misuse, addiction to Ativan will encompass a wide range of symptoms that can make the recognition and presence of a problem much more profound. Some of the common signs of Ativan addiction include:
- inability to control use of Ativan
- making promises to quit and continuing to use
- taking Ativan even when the consequences are known
- taking Ativan despite legal, relationship, financial or health problems
- using Ativan to mask problems or emotions
- doctor shopping to find and acquire more Ativan
- writing fake prescriptions to obtain Ativan
- purchasing Ativan from other people on the streets
- feeling like you can’t live without Ativan
- feeling sick when you stop taking Ativan
If you notice any of these signs, treatment for addiction may be the only safe, and effective, solution for you. Don’t let yourself and your life be ruined by Ativan addiction—seeking help immediately may not only save your life—it may save you from a world of pain and suffering too.
Treatment for Ativan Addiction
Once a woman has become addicted to Ativan, getting off the drug and resorting back to a life of sobriety can be challenging at best. Withdrawal symptoms plague the recovery process and, long after there are no longer physical side effects associated with the drug use, psychological elements such as cravings and an inability to feel happy without the drug continue to wreak havoc on the recovering addict’s life. Fortunately, there are many effective treatment options that can help the user get her life back on track.
Types of Treatment
The most common types of treatment for Ativan addiction include:
- residential rehabilitation
- outpatient rehabilitation
- support groups
Therapy plays a key role in the treatment process helping women who are addicted to Ativan to learn how they can effectively cope with their cravings and live without the drug. Support groups, especially NA, are commonly integrated into the treatment plan to help women feel better about their recovery and to become empowered to make stronger, safer and better decisions in their lives.
Often times, therapy will begin in a residential treatment center and then carry on through the entire treatment process into outpatient treatment and aftercare. Various types of therapy are provided with a focus on behavioral therapies such as CBT and motivational rewards therapy.
Ativan addiction recovery is shadowed by the symptoms of withdrawal that tend to make recovery such as difficult road for most users. According to the American Family Physician, “the signs and symptoms of benzodiazepine withdrawal are similar to those for withdrawal of other sedatives. Management of withdrawal is similar to that in the management of other drugs.” The first step of recovering from Ativan addiction is to stop using the drug and overcome physical withdrawal symptoms.
Treatment will be provided for a variety of withdrawal symptoms including:
- ringing in the ears
- twitching and involuntary muscle movement
- disorder and confusion
Often times, the treatment will be focused heavily on support but certain medications may also be provided in order to help ease the symptoms that occur during the detoxification and withdrawal process.
Many people find that support groups are very helpful in recovery. Those who participate in a support group often tout the following benefits:
- meeting people with similar goals and desires in the recovery process
- finding peer support
- receiving support from others who have already been through difficult times
- having a safe place to discuss the struggles that come with recovery
- being able to discuss hope and wishes for recovery with like-minded people
- learning new ways to cope with addiction
- learning how others cope with cravings
The support that women receive during treatment, whether in a support group, from a counselor or therapist or from others in treatment can be very effective in terms of keeping them in good spirits, helping them to feel good about their sobriety and in helping them to stay sober.