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Ativan is the brand name medication that is generically known as lorazepam. It is a fast-acting benzodiazepine that is used to help treat anxiety and seizure disorders (e.g. epilepsy). The way Ativan works is by adjusting the chemical in one’s brain and effectively increasing the availability of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) to one’s brain. GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that blocks certain brain signals and reduces activity to the nervous system, which in turn produces tranquilizing, calming effects to one’s body and mind. When used appropriately and under the direct supervision of a medical professional it can be highly effective. 

Side Effects

As is true when taking any form of medication, there are certain risk factors and side effects that can occur as a result of taking Ativan. Every person is different and the potential side effects will vary depending on a variety of factors. Common side effects that can occur when taking Ativan (as prescribed) can include any combination of the following, as provided by the National Alliance on Mental Illness:

  • Feeling dizzy, drowsy, fatigued, or lightheaded
  • Impaired coordination
  • Decreased ability to concentrate
  • Shortness of breath
  • Diarrhea
  • Sleepiness
  • Increased heart rate
  • Memory impairment
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Depression 

Including the above, additional side effects that could be indicative of Ativan abuse could include any combination of the following, as provided by the Mayo Clinic

  • Weight loss
  • Lack of muscle control
  • Blood in urine and/ or stool
  • Stomach pain
  • Tremors
  • Overdose
  • Rebound anxiety
  • Learning difficulties
  • Emotional blunting
  • Chills 

The duration and severity of side effects experienced will be specific to each individual. When abused, Ativan can lead to severe short and long-term consequences.


Every individual is unique and will require a customized treatment plan when it comes to Ativan abuse and/ or an addiction to Ativan. The effects of Ativan are experienced as a direct result of the medication adjusting the neurotransmitters in one’s brain. An individual’s body and mind will eventually become accustomed to functioning with the presence of Ativan and its absence will cause a physical reaction. These manifest as withdrawal symptoms (e.g. nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, hallucinations, muscle aches, seizures, etc.). Individuals that struggle with Ativan abuse are encouraged to undergo supervised detox (the process that rids one’s body of foreign substances). This can help ensure the safety of the individual during the detox process. Subsequent substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment is recommended upon completion of the detox stage. Depending on the needs of the individual, he or she can select from a variety of options, including inpatient treatment programs and outpatient treatment programs. Regardless of the format selected, most treatment programs offer tailored treatment plans to ensure the nuanced needs of the individual are accommodated. 

For Information and Support 

If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one in regards to substance abuse and/ or addiction we recommend reaching out for help as soon as possible. If left untreated, substance abuse can result in long lasting and potentially life-threatening consequences. Keep in mind: you are not alone! There is an entire network of professionals that are available to help and support you and your loved one throughout the recovery process. The earlier you seek support, the sooner your loved one can return to a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life.

Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions regarding our specific program at Haven House Addiction Treatment and/ or general substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment related information. Our highly trained staff is readily available to discuss how we might best be able to help you and your loved one. We can be reached by phone at 424-258-6792. You are also welcome to contact anytime us via email at admissions@hhtxc.com.