Ativan is the trade name for the generic drug lorazepam and part of the drug category known as benzodiazepines.
This class of drugs is also called sedatives or tranquilizers. Like other benzodiazepines, Ativan works by attaching to GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) receptors in the brain. One effect of Ativan is to slow down the chemical signals nerve receptors receive, which causes an overall calming effect, usually without impairing the cardiovascular or respiratory system.
Ativan is mainly used to treat anxiety; though, in medical practice doctors have found that Ativan can have therapeutic benefits across a range of different conditions.
Dependence and Addiction
Ativan, like many drugs, can cause physical dependence. There are two main hallmarks of physical dependence on Ativan. First the body develops a tolerance to the drug and the person requires increased amounts to get the desired therapeutic effect or recreational “high.” Unfortunately, as tolerance builds and dosage increases, the risk of overdose also increases. Secondly, due to increased tolerance, people abusing Ativan will often have withdrawal symptoms when they stop using or significantly reduce the familiar amount. Physical dependence is distinguishable from addiction. Dependence is a component of addiction, but not all persons who are physically dependent will become addicted. A person who becomes addicted to Ativan will generally show mental and behavioral signs. For instance, there is often an increased amount of time, energy, and resources dedicated to getting and taking Ativan, which in turn negatively impacts work, family, school, and/or personal obligations.
Ativan withdrawal symptoms include:
- Short-term memory loss
- Panic attacks
- Hallucinations and delirium