Long and Short-Term Effects of Ativan (Lorazepam)

Ativan (lorazepam) is a medication that is prescribed for use on a short-term basis to treat insomnia and symptoms of anxiety.1 The use of benzodiazepines, including Ativan, is associated with certain long-and-short-term effects. This page will cover these effects, as well as risks of misuse – including withdrawal — and treatment options for Ativan misuse or addiction.

What Is Ativan?

Ativan is a prescription drug that falls in the benzodiazepine class of medications.1 Benzodiazepines are central nervous system depressants, also known as sedative hypnotics.2 Because of their sedative and hypnotic effects, benzodiazepines are often used to treat symptoms due to anxiety disorders and panic, acute reactions to stress, insomnia and other sleep problems, and to help reduce seizures.1,2

What Are the Side Effects of Ativan?

There are many possible short– and long-term side effects a person may experience as a result of taking Ativan. The potential side effects that a person may experience vary based on the amount of Ativan taken, duration and frequency use, and a person’s physical and mental health.

Short-Term Side Effects of Ativan

When someone takes Ativan, they may experience a range of short-term effects. Some of the short-term effects of Ativan may include:1

  • Drowsiness.
  • Fatigue or increased feelings of sedation.
  • Dizziness.
  • Impaired coordination.
  • Difficulty concentrating and confusion.

Long-Term Side Effects of Ativan

Prolonged use of Ativan may lead to long-term side effects that can include tolerance and dependence.

Tolerance3 develops as a result of the body adapting to repeated substance use over time, to the point where a person needs increasing doses to feel the same desirable effects. Tolerance builds as the body becomes so used to a substance that it no longer responds to it the way it initially did, and as a result, the desired effects become blunted.

Dependence4 is a physiological adaptation of the body to a substance, wherein the body becomes so used to the drug being present in the system that when the individual cuts back on their use or quits, withdrawal symptoms emerge.

Ativan Withdrawal Symptoms

Ativan withdrawal symptoms may occur if a person suddenly stops or abruptly reduces their use. Some common Ativan withdrawal symptoms include:1

  • Sleep difficulties.
  • Anxiety.
  • Irritable mood.
  • Increased sweating.
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
  • Changes in appetite.
  • Tremors.
  • Headache.
  • Feeling dizzy or lightheadedness.
  • Changes in blood pressure.
  • Increased heart rate.
  • Seizures.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) does not recommend managing benzodiazepine withdrawal without the supervision of a doctor or other healthcare provider.5 Because of the risk of potential life-threatening withdrawal symptoms, such as seizures, associated with Ativan and other benzodiazepines,5 medically supervised detox is a good starting point for people who want help with Ativan dependence and addiction.

How Long Do Ativan Withdrawal Symptoms Last?

Withdrawal from Ativan can occur within 6–8 hours after the last dose.3 The withdrawal symptoms typically reach peak intensity on the second day of withdrawal and subside around day four or five.3

The Ativan withdrawal timeline will vary based on several factors, including how long Ativan was taken, the average dosage of Ativan used, and frequency between doses.6 Other individual-level factors that may affect the withdrawal timeline include the patient’s age (e.g., older adults vs younger), whether they have co-occurring mental health conditions (e.g., depression, anxiety), their physical health, and whether they are using other substances, like alcohol or other central nervous system (CNS) depressants.

Get Help Quitting Ativan Today

Desert Hope offers addiction-focused healthcare to help people begin their journey to recovery from Ativan addiction. Types of addiction treatment available for Ativan dependence include:

  • Inpatient rehab in Las Vegas. Inpatient treatment can be an effective treatment option for individuals who need more intensive, structured treatment where individuals reside at the treatment center while in treatment.7 [see “Inpatient or residential treatment”]
  • Intensive outpatient therapy (IOP). The IOP program at Desert Hope helps individuals identify problems and learn healthy coping skills, while also building a strong support network. The IOP typically includes meeting a few hours a time at least 3 times per week.
  • Outpatient treatment. Outpatient treatment at Desert Hope includes the Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP). The PHP is outpatient therapy that typically includes visiting the treatment center approximately several days per week to participate in outpatient treatment, which may include group and individual behavioral therapy, learning about addiction, and working with peers for support.

If you think you or a loved one is struggling with Ativan misuse or addiction, Desert Hope staff are available at 24/7 to assist you. Our admissions navigators can help you learn more about the rehab admissions process, and give you more information about handling the cost of rehab, and using insurance to pay for rehab.

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Desert Hope is located in Las Vegas, Nevada, which is easily accessible from most locations in the Southwest. We offer a full continuum of care that spans from inpatient medical detox and rehab to outpatient services and sober living. Take the next step toward recovery: learn more about our addiction treatment programs near Vegas or learn about how rehab is affordable for everyone.