A general anxiety disorder is characterized by excessive worrying that lasts for at least six months. Those who suffer from these anxiety disorders find it difficult to control their stress levels, which may cause impairment in social and occupational environments.
Anxiety is the most common mental health disorder in the U.S., and it’s the primary reason why benzodiazepines (or benzos) were created. Today, there are 15 different variations of benzos available, and they all have the power to slow down overactive nervous systems. Ativan is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant that’s used to treat these types of anxiety disorders, as well as sleep disorders.
40 million Americans struggle with chronic sleep disorders, and another 20 million deal with occasional sleep problems. Anxiety frequently exacerbates sleep disorders. These abnormal sleep patterns can lead to destructive outcomes in a person’s life. For instance, sleep disorders possess the ability to interfere with careers or schoolwork, as they don’t allow the person to perform at peak levels.
While medications like Ativan may seem like a godsend, they can become a crutch. Individuals who suffer from sleep disorders may proclaim that it restores functioning in their lives, but what cost comes with the benefits? Even mild sleep disorders can leave a person restless and tired every day. Their definition of sleep transformed into tossing and turning all night. So if a substance can treat this ailment, it’s hard to refuse it.
However, once this “magic potion” loses its potency, usage can evolve into tolerance, dependence, and ultimately addiction. The anxiety can come become even more severe, and sleep becomes much more of a chore than before. Nevertheless, many users keep taking the drug, even if it’s not helping anymore.
Individuals prescribed drugs like Ativan must be aware of the symptoms of addiction. Addiction to this drug is a progressive disease that can be fatal, but fortunately, this outcome can be prevented.
Ativan is a potent benzo that’s classified as a Schedule IV medication. It’s only obtainable with a prescription.
Austrian chemist Leo Sternbach accidentally created benzos during his time at Hoffman-LaRoche. The product was shelved for over a year before his colleague realized its potential for replacing barbiturates. Unfortunately, benzos eventually started showing the same risks as the barbiturates they replaced. Then in the 1980s, physicians started addressing the dangers of benzo addiction.
Ativan is the brand name for the drug Iorazepam. While this drug is most commonly used to treat sleep and anxiety disorders, it can also be used to treat seizures. In some cases, it’s been used to treat nausea and vomiting in patients going through chemotherapy. The primary benefit of Ativan is its quick onset and long half-life. When the drug is intravenously administered, it can be felt in as little as five minutes. When it’s ingested orally, it can work within 15 minutes.
Ativan shares similar characteristics to barbiturates and alcohol. By increasing the levels of a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), your brain can regulate feelings of anxiety, stress, and fear by inhibiting the nerve impulses that carry these feelings to the brain. Ativan mimics this natural GABA flow, so it binds with receptors in the brain, activates them over and over, and creates an excess flood of GABA.
Benzos aren’t intended for long-term use. Taking these drugs for more than four weeks at a time can lead to undesirable outcomes. When an Ativan dependence has been developed, the user will feel withdrawal symptoms, which is a sign that a chemical dependency has occurred.
Understanding the symptoms of addiction significantly improve a user’s chances of getting help. The early stages of addiction typically come with fewer warning signs than someone who’s entirely consumed by addiction, but there are ways to determine if someone is addicted.
The first sign is tolerance. When your body becomes dependent on a drug, you need higher doses to achieve the effects you experienced when you first started taking it. Tolerance leads to dependence, which occurs when someone takes it to feel normal.
The final step is addiction. This disease is defined as the continued use of a drug, despite the consequences. For instance, if you get fired due to using Ativan and keep using it, you’re probably addicted to it.
If you’ve demonstrated any of these signs, it’s imperative you speak with a medical professional to discuss your options. They could insist you enter a treatment center. If you want to stop taking Ativan, you should never consider this process on your own. Withdrawal from Ativan can be deadly if it isn’t accompanied by professional guidance.
Addiction treatment is a sequence of intensive care and therapies that are geared toward one goal: long-term sobriety. Treatment is not a one-size-fits-all solution, so users entering this process must understand that they must go to a facility focused on sobriety. The person seeking help must always search for treatment centers that are accredited and offer the highest standard of care.
The first step in this process is medical detoxification. As mentioned above, Ativan requires a medically supervised detox to preserve the safety of the client, which will mitigate any of the extreme withdrawal symptoms that could be present during these vulnerable moments. The client will be assessed by addiction specialists, and they’ll spend up to a week learning to manage the symptoms of toxins leaving their body.
The next step in treatment could be residential or outpatient care. The outcome of the client will be dependent on the length of use, the existence of polydrug use, and other factors. The client could live onsite for up to 90 days, which allows them to regain control of their lives. They could engage in group therapy, individual therapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy, which will help them understand their triggers, practice coping mechanisms, and pinpoint the root of their addiction.
Is your loved one struggling with Ativan abuse or addiction? Are you? If so, it’s important for you to treat it with the seriousness it requires and get help before it’s too late.
Anxiety and Depression Association of America. (n.d.). Sleep Disorders from https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/related-illnesses/sleep-disorders
National Institute of Mental Health. (n.d.). Generalized Anxiety Disorder from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/generalized-anxiety-disorder.shtml