Understanding Lorazepam Abuse
Lorazepam is a medication most often prescribed to help women who are dealing with anxiety. It is an effective medication for its intended use, but often, a user can become addicted to the drug and withdrawals could occur if proper treatment is not administered.
Prescription of Lorazepam
There are many reasons why women might be prescribed Lorazepam. As described by The Coalition Against Drug Abuse, Lorazepam can be a treatment for:
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- “Nausea from cancer treatments”
- Distress caused by alcohol withdrawals
Many women are prescribed Lorazepam for everyday treatments or disorders and are not fully aware of the addictive nature of the drug. Its trade names are Ativan, Orfidal, or Lorazepam Intensol.
Lorazepam’s particular effect on the brain is what makes it highly addictive. Lorazepam is a benzodiazepine, and it plays on the neurotransmitter Gamma-aminibutyric acid. By intensifying the work of this neurotransmitter, it diminishes activity in the brain, giving women a strong sense of calm and allowing them to feel less anxious or stressed.
Women who become addicted to Lorazepam usually start out taking the drug as treatment for a medical issue, most often anxiety. According to DailyMed, “the dependence potential is reduced when lorazepam is used at the appropriate dose for short-term treatment.” The “appropriate dose” is usually “two or three times a day” for “two to four weeks” (The Coalition Against Drug Abuse). Doctors often tell their patients not to deviate from the specified dosage, but many do.
Since Lorazepam’s main use is to help patients with anxiety, the medication has a calming effect upon which the user can come to depend. The US National Library of Medicine describes how Lorazepam “works by slowing activity in the brain to allow for relaxation.” For many people, this effect is similar to drinking alcohol. The calming feeling becomes very addictive for many users, and a tolerance soon builds up if the user is taking too much.
This naturally leads to the Lorazepam user to try and up her dosage on her own. Doctors strongly advise against this, as it is often one of the earliest signs of Lorazepam addiction.
The possibility for Lorazepam addiction, even when prescribed by a doctor, is a very serious one. Most commonly, a sense of “serenity and peace” is described by users of the drug, feelings which they come to crave (The Coalition Against Drug Abuse). As with all addiction, it is more difficult to stop the longer the user takes the drug. Look for the signs and symptoms of abuse and, if you have a loved one who you think may be addicted, or if you have become addicted yourself, seek treatment in order to lower your dependence on the drug.
The Signs And Symptoms of Lorazepam Abuse
There are many signs and symptoms women can look for if they believe themselves to be developing a Lorazepam addiction. In addition, women who have friends or loved ones possibly suffering from the same issue should also keep an eye out for some of these signs.
Many women find their behavior changes once they become addicted to Lorazepam, especially their behavior toward the drug itself. They will build up a tolerance for it, but also, they will try to find new ways of getting more of the drug. Some women might reach out to friends and ask to use their medications. Some will forge prescription slips or visit different doctors in order to have more prescriptions written for them. This is a behavior common in addiction that many women cannot picture themselves doing until the addiction has become severe.
The Coalition Against Drug Abuse also warns against letting the need for the drug control your life and push out all other needs. If “you feel unable to function without resorting to taking the drug,” it is more than likely a sign of addiction. Lorazepam is meant to help relieve anxiety patients of their tense and troubled feelings, but it should not be the only thing that gets someone through her day. Women may also become restless and lose interest in their appetites, sex drives, and other important things, only able to focus on the drug.
As stated by Lorazepamabuse.com, dishonesty can be one of the worst signs. This can be especially difficult on women with close relationships or families, as the drug at first often eases the stresses anxiety brings to interpersonal relationships. Then, when the relationships are strained again by drug abuse, lying, and arguments between loved ones, “this can be confusing and painful for all involved.”
The US National Library of Medicine lists many possible physical side effects that could be the result of Lorazepam abuse. They are:
- Dry mouth
- Blurry sight
- Frequent need to urinate
There are other side effects which could point to severe abuse of Lorazepam, including:
- “Shuffling walk”
- Jaundice (yellowing of skin/eyes)
- Restlessness to the point of tremors
- Irregular heartbeat
- “Difficulty breathing or swallowing”
Withdrawal Symptoms for Lorazepam Abuse
When Lorazepam abusers stop taking the medication, there is a great risk for withdrawal, just as in many other cases of addiction. Some of the most common signs of Lorazepam withdrawal are increased irritability, anxiousness, and even possible panic attacks and suicidal thoughts. Women who take Lorazepam to curb symptoms of mild to intense anxiety will most likely experience this swing in the opposite direction, the severity of which depends on the dependency on the drug.
Lorazepam’s calming effects are very similar to those of alcohol, and the withdrawal symptoms are often similar too. The physical symptoms can include:
It is important to check for the signs and symptoms when there is a concern for Lorazepam abuse. Women who stop caring about the important aspects of their lives are likely suffering from addiction to the drug. Just remember that her or your behavior is because of the drug’s influence, and that treatment should be sought immediately.
Treatment for Lorazepam Addiction
According to The Office of Diversion Control, there were 36,675 emergency room visits attributed to Lorazepam in 2010 alone. If you think you might be addicted to Lorazepam, or have a friend or loved one who is, seek treatment right away.
Detoxification and Rehabilitation
The best way to work through withdrawal symptoms from Lorazepam, or any drug, is to go to a detoxification center where the drug will be weaned from the system of the abuser. Afterward, she would most likely want to check in to a rehabilitation center. These two facilities are often coupled, and the best way to get healthy again is to complete both programs.
Detox and Withdrawal
If it is possible for a woman fighting Lorazepam addiction to go to a detox center, she will not be immediately taken off the drug. This is safer and better on the body, as the withdrawal symptoms won’t be as severe or, quite possibly, might not occur at all. The Coalition Against Drug Abuse states that “most treatment centers continue to administer the drug but do so in gradually decreased amounts.” This is the best way to begin to separate oneself from the addiction for good. If the addiction can be reduced gradually, a woman fighting addiction can focus more on getting better instead of on the pain or side effects caused by withdrawal.
Rehab is the second step after completing the detoxification process. Rehab facilities are inpatient programs where the abuser continues to get well under the supervision of medical professionals. Here, women are provided with a controlled environment where treatments and medications can be monitored. This is especially necessary if the addiction was brought on by the abuser upping her dosage on her own by falsifying prescriptions or other illegal means.
Other treatments women can find in rehab are:
- Therapy sessions: one-on-one and psychotherapy which allow women to explore the reasons behind their addiction and initial anxieties
- Group: several addicts meet (usually with a counselor) to discuss their personal and shared experiences with abuse
Usually, rehab continues even after the patient leaves the inpatient program, with meetings in order to keep the abuser focused on the ongoing process of beating addiction. Women with families, jobs, and busy schedules will find this especially helpful as ongoing rehab, or outpatient programs, will continue to help them throughout their daily lives as well as fit into an already tight schedule. The best part of an outpatient program is the fact that women can begin to feel normal again while still continuing to receive treatment.
Detoxification and rehabilitation are the two most important steps of the treatment for women addicted to Lorazepam. But the first step is getting there. The faster treatment is started, the easier it will be for a woman abusing to Lorazepam to break through the addiction and start living her life again.