Lorazepam (brand name Ativan) is a prescription benzodiazepine (benzo) and CNS (central nervous system) depressant commonly used to address symptoms related to anxiety, panic disorder, seizures, and insomnia. Like all benzos, lorazepam can be an effective remedy for these conditions but, unfortunately, also has the potential for abuse, dependence, and addiction.
When prescribed by a doctor, lorazepam comes in tablet form, and oral ingestion is the most common means of abuse. However, lorazepam can be altered in form by crushing it into a powder and snorting it, an action that leads to accelerated transit to the brain and CNS.
After lorazepam has been insufflated, the medication is rapidly absorbed and crosses the blood-brain barrier. It soon initiates a boost of GABA, a neurotransmitter in the brain responsible for feelings of reward, well-being, and relaxation. In turn, This action induces the sought-after euphoric “high” and is the primary reason for its addictive potential.
Dependence, Tolerance, and Addiction
Even if used as directed, lorazepam use can lead to some level of physical and emotional dependence. These conditions occur when the brain and body become accustomed to a substance’s presence and can no longer function normally without it. When this happens, the individual will experience unpleasant emotional and physical withdrawal symptoms when they try to quit using it.
Tolerance is a state that results from the brain’s propensity to decrease the effects of a substance following multiple uses. The user will need to ingest ever-increasing amounts to achieve the desired results. Unfortunately, this cycle of accelerating use and diminished response can lead to full-blown addiction and, ultimately, dangerous or even life-threatening consequences.
Addiction includes three primary elements, including tolerance and dependence, as well as an obsession with the obtainment and use of a substance.
Signs and symptoms of lorazepam dependence or addiction include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Continued use of a substance despite adverse effects that result, including those related to personal health
- Loss of interest in hobbies and activities once deemed meaningful or enjoyable
- Use of lorazepam in hazardous or inappropriate situations, such as operating machinery
- Adverse changes or problems in other vital areas of life such as school, work, relationships, finances, and legal status
- Chronic sedation and fatigue
Lorazepam Withdrawal Symptoms
As noted, the manifestation of withdrawal symptoms is a hallmark sign that the individual’s system has been compromised and is now less capable of functioning correctly without using the drug. These mental and physical symptoms often persist for several days after the last dose has been administered.
Symptoms of benzo withdrawal may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Insomnia/sleep disturbances
- Sweats and chills
Other Potential Consequences
Dependence and tolerance are not the only critical health conditions that can develop from this route of delivery. For example, snorting lorazepam can also lead to nasal infections and irreversible damage to the nasal passage, septum, and surrounding tissues.
Other side effects and hazards of snorting lorazepam include the following:
- Heavy sedation
- Blurry vision
- Muscle fatigue
- Nausea and vomiting
- Appetite changes
Snorting Lorazepam and Overdose
Snorting lorazepam, especially in combination with other drugs or alcohol, can lead to life-threatening CNS depression, respiratory distress, and death.
Symptoms of a lorazepam overdose may include the following:
- Pale, bluish skin or lips
- Shallow or labored breathing
- Impaired motor skills
- Slurred speech
- Impaired memory
- Loss of consciousness
- Profound respiratory depression
Getting Treatment for Benzo Addiction
Benzo abuse is a risky habit associated with a large number of adverse consequences. And yet, many who are dependent on intoxicating prescription drugs do not understand the severity of their condition. Refusal to seek professional help can be detrimental to one’s health and possibly life-threatening, and getting treatment in any stage of dependence is essential for sustainable recovery.
Medical treatment for lorazepam dependence often begins with a medical detox program. This is a clinical process in which the person is monitored around-the-clock, and withdrawal symptoms are actively treated to alleviate pain and discomfort.
A tapering or weaning schedule is recommended for most lorazepam users to minimize withdrawal symptoms. This process involves gradually reducing lorazepam’s dose over some time until the medication can be discontinued safely without undermining the individual’s health or well-being.
Following detox, persons are urged to enroll in a comprehensive, evidence-based addiction treatment program. Just Believe Recovery center offers such programs, including services and activities essential for the recovery process, such as psychotherapy, counseling, group support, aftercare planning, and more. Those who seek professional help can increase their chances of reclaiming their lives and experiencing long-term health, happiness, and sobriety.