Lorazepam, an anti-anxiety medication commonly sold under the brand name Ativan, is most commonly prescribed to those who suffer from high anxiety, epilepsy or insomnia. Those who acquire legitimate prescriptions to Ativan may begin using heavily when they notice that the symptoms cause them to feel more comfortable than usual. Ativan addiction and abuse may also begin for non-medical reasons, as those who do not require anti-anxiety medications may find that lorazepam causes them to feel especially euphoric.
In most cases, those who receive prescriptions for Ativan will only be given enough to last up to four months. Lorazepam is highly potent, often sold in liquid or dissolving tablet form. Depending on the form of the drug, Ativan abuse may take the form of oral ingestion, snorting or intravenous use (although the latter rarely occurs outside of a professional setting). Ativan addiction and abuse may occur on their own, although more commonly occur in conjunction with another form of substance use disorder such as alcoholism.
Ativan Effects and Abuse
Up to two hours may pass between the occurrence of Ativan abuse and onset of lorazepam’s effects. Since Ativan is classed as a central nervous system depressant, users may feel a sense of muscular relaxation accompanied by drowsiness and a general feeling of mental tranquility. Euphoria will also set in, especially when combining lorazepam with ethyl alcohol.
Ativan addiction and abuse frequently lead to accidental overdose. Lorazepam addiction is highly dangerous due to the potency of the drug, and the tendency of many addicts to combine benzos with other substances may raise the chances of an overdose occurring. The lasting sense of calm provided by the drug will not be enough for those who primarily become addicted to the intensity of the initial sense of euphoria. Those who continue using in an effort to produce more of this effect will be at the highest risk of developing an Ativan addiction or suffering an overdose.
Ativan Abuse Statistics
Benzodiazepines as a broad drug class present a large problem for Americans struggling with addiction, with approximately fifty million prescriptions written each year according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. In 2011, as many as 27 million of these prescriptions were for lorazepam. Several of these cases resulted in dangerous misuse. During that same year, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, about 50,399 emergency room visits resulted from Ativan addiction and abuse. The majority of Ativan users admitted to the hospital for emergency services are also found to be abusing other addictive substances, greatly increasing the risk of danger resulting from recreational prescription drug use.
Common Ativan Drug Combinations
Patients admitted to emergency rooms for Ativan addiction and abuse often test positive for additional substances. In many cases, these substances include alcohol and other depressants. Lorazepam addiction also occurs frequently among those who abuse opioid medications such as morphine, or illicit drugs such as heroin. Mixing lorazepam with these substances greatly increases the risk of contraindications, leading to medical complications and overdose.
While mixing Ativan with other central nervous system depressants is particularly dangerous, any drug combinations can be risky. At least 132 substances interact with Ativan in a potentially dangerous way, with another 587 presenting moderate dangers. A further 98 drug interactions with Ativan may not prove dangerous, yet it is still suggested that users mitigate risk by avoiding combinations of lorazepam with other substances. Aside from methadone, opioids and alcohol, users should particularly avoid central nervous system stimulants such as cocaine and methamphetamine. Many users enjoy the combination of uppers and downers, but it only makes both substances more dangerous.