Long-Term Lorazepam Abuse Side Effects
Lorazepam, also known as Ativan, is a medication that belongs to a class of drugs called benzodiazepines. Lorazepam is an anticonvulsant often prescribed to treat anxiety and sleep disturbances and sometimes muscle spasms, seizures, and/or alcohol withdrawal. Lorazepam is highly addictive and habit-forming if taken for long periods or if taken more than prescribed (abused).
Lorazepam abuse can cause the user to appear to be intoxicated with alcohol. The person will experience slurred speech, ataxia (impaired coordination), and prominent poor physical coordination. Some of the dangers of long-term abuse can include:
- Memory loss
- Abdominal bleeding
- Kidney problems
- Loss of appetite
- Withdrawal symptoms
Once you’re addicted to lorazepam, we recommend a medical benzodiazepine detox under the supervision of clinical professionals. Getting off benzos on your own is dangerous and very painful. It requires a very planned approach that involves proper medication, guidance, and counseling.
Lorazepam Is a Very Addictive Drug
Due to the highly addictive nature of Ativan, like any other benzodiazepine, it should only be taken on a short-term basis. If someone has a history of addiction, Lorazepam should be monitored closely if prescribed or not prescribed at all. Getting hooked on benzodiazepines is easy while getting off them is very difficult if you have an addictive personality. Often times it’s not worth it to take benzos and any potential pros far outweigh the cons.
Lorazepam can also cause some severe side effects when mixed with any other central nervous system depressants such as alcohol or opioids. One of the most dangerous side effects occurs when benzodiazepines are mixed with opioids; the two mixed together can cause severe respiratory depression and lead to death. Luckily, if you get off lorazepam, then many of the adverse health effects will be reversed as you return to a normal state of mind and physical well-being.
Many men and women throughout the United States are addicted to benzodiazepines. It’s a major issue that has infiltrated all sectors of society. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health:
In 2015, an estimated 119 million Americans aged 12 or older used prescription psychotherapeutic drugs in the past year. Out of the 119 million, 39.3 million used tranquilizers. In 2015, 18.9 million Americans aged 12 or older misused prescription psychotherapeutic drugs. Out of this 18.9 million, 6.1 million abused tranquilizers. (NSDUH)
Long-Term Lorazepam Abuse Effects on the Brain and Body
Anxiety is one of the most common psychiatric disorders, so anti-anxiety medications are widely prescribed. Lorazepam is one of the most commonly prescribed anti-anxiety medications. Ativan works by slowing down brain activity; it produces a calming effect and relieves symptoms of anxiety. If someone takes Lorazepam or any other benzodiazepine for longer than a couple of weeks, the brain starts adjusting to the medication and tolerance develops. The person will need stronger and stronger doses to achieve the same effect. If an individual continues to use the medication, dependence occurs. Once a person is dependent on Lorazepam, the risk of addiction highly increases. Long-term Lorazepam abuse can also cause rebound effects. Individuals may experience symptoms that used to be relieved by taking the medication such as anxiety, muscle spasms, and seizures. Some of the other withdrawal symptoms of lorazepam include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Abdominal pain
If a long-term user of Lorazepam stops taking the medication on their own, they could experience fatal seizures. Supervised medical detox is the safest way to withdraw off of the medication. Long-term lorazepam abuse can also cause severe cognitive impairment, mental impairment, anxiety, agoraphobia, amnesia, and liver damage.
Behavioral Changes Associated With Lorazepam Dependence
Lorazepam abuse can cause significant behavioral changes. The abuser will start losing interest in normal daily activities. Often withdrawal from family and social gatherings will occur. Some other changes may include isolating, sleeping too much, unusual anxiety or irritability, a drowsy or confused appearance, a decline in work or school activities, and neglect in hygiene and grooming. Lorazepam abuse can cause individuals to start stealing and lying to get more medication. It can also affect relationships with family members, spouses, or partners. Addiction can cause financial strain on families and relationships. Not only that, but long-term lorazepam abuse can also be dangerous. If a person is working under the influence and while abusing the medication, accidents and on the job injuries can occur. Also, if an individual continues to operate a motor vehicle while abusing lorazepam, they are risking having an accident and hurting themselves and possibly other drivers on the road.
Lorazepam is a schedule IV narcotic, so illegally obtaining a prescription or buying medication off the street could cause legal problems including jail time, fines, and loss of child custody just to name a few. Addiction can have a devastating effect on people. If you or someone you love needs help with addiction, our addiction specialists are available around the clock to speak to you. Evoke Massachusetts offers evidence-based treatment programs with solution-focused addiction treatment. We are here to help you.