What is Lorazepam?
Lorazepam is a benzodiazepine commonly prescribed for anxiety, insomnia, and seizures. Initially marketed under the names Ativan and Temesta, Lorazepam is one of the most potent benzodiazepines. It is a short acting substance, and among other drugs of its type, it has high abuse and addiction potential.
Lorazepam is most often abused for its sedative, hypnotic side effects. Tolerance builds quickly, which is clinically good for the side effects of sedation and hypnosis, but bad for the intended effects of anxiety reduction and seizure cessation. As an individual begins using lorazepam for recreational purposes, their tolerance will grow very quickly, and they soon take dangerous amounts of it.
Lorazepam Side Effects
Lorazepam as a prescription medication is very useful, but the side effects are what encourage its abuse. Typical of a benzodiazepine, it produces a state of relaxation and serenity. Beneficial for patients with an anxiety disorder, these traits are also desirable for drug addicts. Lorazepam withdrawal symptoms have been reported with patients who have used it for a duration of a month. Lorazepam withdrawal symptoms include anxiety, depression, restlessness, and nausea. Heavier use may result in tremors, seizures, hyperthermia and panic attaks. Benzodiazepines are one of the few substances that may result in death as a direct result of withdrawal. In addition, use of lorazepam in combination with alcohol or opioids may result in respiratory depression and death.
One of the chief dangers of lorazepam is its potential for overdose. Signs of overdose may be mental confusion, hypotension, and drowsiness. If not caught early, a lorazepam overdose may lead to cardiovascular depression, respiratory depression, coma, and death. Overdose is usually a result of combining lorazepam with other depressants. Generally alcohol and opioids are the two substances that cause fatal overdose. Also, lorazepam builds tolerance very rapidly in its users, so overdose may be the result of a heightened tolerance.
Lorazepam Detox and Treatment
Lorazepam is one of the most dangerous detox procedures, and thus requires medical supervision in order to be safe. Those who attempt to detox at home may suffer from permanent effects or death. At a medical detox center, doctors may prescribe a longer acting benzodiazepine such as diazepam in order to ease withdrawal symptoms. Doctors monitor the patient’s stability and slowly taper them off lorazepam. Detox may take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, depending on length of abuse, frequency of abuse, and usual dosage.
After detox, a treatment center is the next step in recovery from lorazepam addiction. A residential treatment center offers a controlled environment in which the individual is given resources to aid them in maintaining a sober lifestyle. Through group and individual therapy, relapse prevention education, and family involvement the person gains knowledge of their addiction and learns new coping mechanisms.
Some people may prefer an outpatient treatment program as it allows the patient to continue with their daily life. However, the person may come in contact with drugs, and it is not as secure of an environment. There are also sober living houses in which residents may live with other newly sober addicts, and gradually transition back into the real world.