Ativan is a Schedule IV controlled substance that can cause addiction, dependence and a variety of side effects. Fortunately, treatment is available for Ativan addiction.

Article at a Glance:

Ativan (lorazepam) is a benzodiazepine and an addictive Schedule IV controlled substance.

Taking Ativan triggers the brain’s reward circuit, increasing the risk for addiction.

After decreasing for several years, benzodiazepine overdose deaths are once again rising.

Ativan addiction treatment can include detox as well as inpatient and outpatient care.

Is Ativan Addictive?

Ativan (lorazepam) is an extremely addictive benzodiazepine medication. Due to the drug’s addictive potential, potency and fast-acting nature, Ativan’s package labeling recommends using it at the lowest dose possible for the shortest possible length of time.

What is Ativan?

Ativan is a powerful anti-anxiety medication that is part of a drug class called benzodiazepines. These psychoactive drugs are primarily used to treat anxiety, but they can also treat panic disorders and seizures. In some cases, benzodiazepines can also be used for anesthesia, sedation before medical procedures, muscle relaxation or drug and alcohol withdrawal.

Is Ativan addictive in small doses?

As a Schedule IV controlled substance, Ativan can be addictive at any dose.

What Causes Ativan Addiction and Dependence?

Like other drugs of abuse, Ativan triggers the brain’s reward circuit by increasing the amount of dopamine, the brain’s feel-good neurotransmitter. This causes a person to want to keep taking Ativan to achieve the same feel-good effects.

People may think that if they take a very small dose of Ativan, they’ll be less likely to develop an addiction. However, this isn’t necessarily true. Everyone’s body is different, and a person could develop an Ativan addiction even when taking a smaller dose.

Ativan Addiction Sign, Symptoms and Effects

There may be some outward signs that a person is using Ativan, particularly if they take high doses. Signs of Ativan misuse may include side effects like:

  • Sedation
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Unsteadiness

When a person is dependent on Ativan, they can experience withdrawal symptoms like nausea and anxiety if they miss a dose or don’t take enough. They’ll also have a tolerance to Ativan, so they’ll need to take more to experience the desired effects. Cravings are an indication of psychological dependence, and they can interfere with responsibilities and relationships.

Behavioral Symptoms of Ativan Abuse

Addiction can cause people to act in certain ways. If someone develops an Ativan addiction, they may start:

  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Lying or stealing to support their addiction
  • Taking more Ativan than they’re supposed to
  • Taking doses more often than their prescription indicates
  • Becoming preoccupied with misusing the drug and securing more of it
  • Hiding things from friends and loved ones
  • Losing interest in things they used to enjoy
  • Missing school, professional or social obligations
  • Doctor shopping, or going to one or more doctors to get more than one prescription within the same time frame
  • Having uncharacteristic run-ins with law enforcement
  • Uncharacteristically borrowing money from friends, family and co-workers

Ativan (lorazepam) Addiction and Abuse Statistics

The misuse of prescription substances, including benzodiazepines, has been on the rise in the United States in recent years. Hospital visits and overdose deaths related to these drugs have also been increasing. Recent statistics about benzodiazepines include:

  • Benzodiazepine overdoses decreased from 2017 to 2019 but increased from 2019 to 2020 along with the supply of illicit benzodiazepines.
  • As of 2020, almost 93% of benzodiazepine-related overdose deaths also involved an opioid.
  • About 1.8% of U.S. adolescents and adults abused benzodiazepines in 2019.
  • In 2020, about 7% of U.S. high school seniors had abused tranquilizers like Ativan.

Treatment for Ativan (Lorazepam) Addiction

Although Ativan is a highly addictive drug, treatment is available. The process typically starts with a medical detox and then transitions into rehab treatment, which helps people learn how to avoid using drugs like Ativan in the future.

Benzodiazepine addiction rarely occurs alone, so a good treatment program should also address any other addictions or co-occurring mental health disorders a person may have.

Does insurance cover Ativan treatment?

Though it depends on your specific policy, health insurance providers will typically cover Ativan addiction treatment or at least a portion of it. This can include both inpatient and outpatient treatment.

What is the cost of treatment?

Rehab costs can vary widely from one rehab center to the next. Fortunately, there are many ways to pay for treatment, whether it’s through insurance, personal loans, payment plans or government programs. Rehab is an important investment in your future and your life, and it’s almost always less expensive than the costs of continuing an addiction.

Specialized Treatment and Therapy Options

The Recovery Village is a full-service rehab facility that treats a wide range of drug and alcohol addictions, including Ativan. However, our addiction experts do far more than help people end substance use — we provide a full continuum of care that addresses all aspects of a person’s physical, mental and behavioral health.

Treatment programs at The Recovery Village include residential care, outpatient services, partial hospital programming, family programs, aftercare and much more. At our rehab center, treatment for Ativan addiction will typically include:

  • In-depth evaluation and treatment planning tailored to the individual
  • Supervision from nursing staff
  • Medication management
  • Psychiatric care
  • Continual review of treatment and objectives
  • Individual, group and recreational therapy
  • Aftercare and discharge planning

Treatment Options

Inpatient Rehab for Ativan Addiction

Withdrawal from Ativan or other benzos can cause dangerous symptoms like seizures, psychosis and coma. For this reason, people with Ativan addiction should begin with a medical detox followed by inpatient treatment. We incorporate medical detox into our treatment programs so clients can seamlessly transition to inpatient care.

During inpatient treatment, you’ll start building the skills needed to avoid substance use in the future. Your treatment schedule may include group and individualized therapy, recreational therapy and specific programs based on your needs. Inpatient care can last anywhere from 30 to 90 days in most cases, but the Ativan detox process can take several weeks.

Outpatient Rehab

Outpatient rehab typically follows an inpatient program. During outpatient rehab, clients attend therapy sessions and can meet with a psychiatrist for medication management as needed. Outpatient care allows people to begin transitioning back into their day-to-day lives with the continued support of our addiction experts.

Individualized and Group Therapy

During individual therapy at The Recovery Village, clients work with a mental health professional in private sessions to gain self-knowledge and insight. During group therapy, clients can practice their newly learned coping and communication skills and also gain strength from their peers. These approaches help clients gain a deeper understanding of addiction, learn healthy ways to manage stress and increase the motivation to continue a substance-free life.

Paired Dual Diagnosis and Co-Occurring Disorders Treatment

Many people who struggle with addiction also struggle with co-occurring mental health disorders like anxiety or depression. This doesn’t necessarily mean one condition causes the other, but it’s possible that people with underlying mental health concerns could be more susceptible to addiction.

To build a foundation for long-term recovery, it’s important to treat substance use and mental health at the same time. The Recovery Village offers dual diagnosis treatment that helps clients cope with their mental health in ways that do not involve drugs or alcohol. This integrated approach helps ensure that a person’s mental health concerns won’t lead them back into addiction.

If you or someone you love is struggling with an Ativan addiction, help is available at The Recovery Village. Contact us today to learn more about treatment options that can help you take the first steps toward a healthier, drug-free future.

Jonathan Strum
Editor – Jonathan Strum
Jonathan Strum graduated from the University of Nebraska Omaha with a Bachelor's in Communication in 2017 and has been writing professionally ever since. Read more
Jessica Pyhtila
Medically Reviewed By – Dr. Jessica Pyhtila, PharmD
Dr. Jessica Pyhtila is a Clinical Pharmacy Specialist based in Baltimore, Maryland with practice sites in inpatient palliative care and outpatient primary care at the Department of Veteran Affairs. Read more


Ativan (lorazepam) Addiction and Abuse Statistics

The misuse of prescription substances, including benzodiazepines, has been on the rise in the United States in recent years. Hospital visits and overdose deaths related to these drugs have also been increasing. Recent statistics about benzodiazepines include:

  • Benzodiazepine overdoses decreased from 2017 to 2019 but increased from 2019 to 2020 along with the supply of illicit benzodiazepines.
  • As of 2020, almost 93% of benzodiazepine-related overdose deaths also involved an opioid.
  • About 1.8% of U.S. adolescents and adults abused benzodiazepines in 2019.
  • In 2020, about 7% of U.S. high school seniors had abused tranquilizers like Ativan.
How long after taking 1 mg Ativan can I drink?

The half-life of a drug is how long it takes half of it to leave your body, and it takes about five half-lives for a drug to leave your system. Because Ativan’s half-life is 10 to 20 hours, Ativan remains in your system for up to 100 hours (five days) after you have taken the drug. It is not completely safe to drink until that time has passed.

Can benzodiazepines cross the placenta?

Benzodiazepines can cross the placenta.


Liu, Stephen; O’Donnell, Julie; Gladden, R. Matt; et al. “Trends in Nonfatal and Fatal Overdoses I[…]olumbia, 2019–2020.” Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, August 27, 2021. Accessed October 17, 2021.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. “Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indi[…] Drug Use and Health.” September 2020. Accessed October 17, 2021.

National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Monitoring the Future Study: Trends in P[…]nce of Various Drugs.” December 17, 2020. Accessed October 17, 2021.

Tan, Kelly R.; Brown, Matthew; Labouèbe, Gwenaël; et al. “Neural bases for addictive properties of benzodiazepines.” Nature, February 11, 2010. Accessed October 17, 2021. “Lorazepam.” November 9, 2020. Accessed October 17, 2021.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.