How to Taper off Ativan (lorazepam)

Lorazepam, also known by the brand name Ativan, is a common tranquilizer medication. Ativan is one of several easily recognizable drugs in the collection of sedatives called benzodiazepines. Like other benzos, the colloquial term for benzodiazepines, Ativan is used in the treatment of neurological imbalances and mental health problems. Lorazepam, in particular, is prescribed to treat sleep abnormalities, seizures, anxiety and withdrawal symptoms attributed to prolonged alcohol use.

Klonopin, Xanax and Valium are all comparable benzodiazepines to Ativan. Though, Ativan may be less potent. Altogether, these four benzos account for thousands of overdose deaths annually.

When used correctly and over a managed time period, Ativan can be a benign and effective drug. However, any form of misuse — prescription overuse or extended recreational usage — can lead to addiction, dependence, a substance use disorder, suicidal thoughts or all of the above.

Once an individual acquires a tolerance to Ativan, it can be quite difficult to move forward. Said patients or recreational users will often take extra quantities of the drug to achieve the same feelings of relief or euphoria. Deciding to stop Ativan isn’t as simple as not consuming the pills any longer — it takes a proper adjustment stage and comprehensive care along the way. A medical detoxification can provide both. Effective detoxes usually use time to their advantage, and perhaps the best example of this is the taper method. An Ativan taper utilizes all of the resources at a rehabilitation center’s disposable, combined with ample recovery time to help users succeed.

How to Taper Off Ativan | Ativan Taper Chart and Schedule
Ativan (lorazepam) taper schedules have two competitive advantages to other detox programs. The first of which revolves around acclimation.

The human body has the remarkable ability to regenerate — healing itself from physical and psychological trauma of all kinds. Its power to do so for drug use is no different. Tapering harnesses this natural gift and gives the patient’s body the platform to do so. Over time, usually weeks or months for Ativan, bodily systems can course correct and readapt themselves to life without benzodiazepine use.

Moreover, Ativan tapers work to minimize withdrawals. Benzodiazepine withdrawals can be notoriously painful experiences, and they are something that those dealing with Ativan dependence usually seek to avoid. As luck would have it, some patients will find that they can actually avoid a withdrawal entirely by tapering.

This last point is what truly separates tapers from other methods — namely going cold turkey — which requires instant, bumper-free cessation. Beyond subjecting oneself fully to the inherent dangers of benzo withdrawals, quitting Ativan cold turkey has a higher likelihood of an individual inadequately or never reaching their recovery goals. Simply put, there just isn’t enough structure or support to sustain an approach which requires someone to suffer the entire time. When agony is the alternative, it is no surprise many choose to continue or return to benzodiazepine use.

To reiterate, following a physician-approved Ativan taper chart can prevent withdrawals. Deciding to quit the drug cold turkey can lead to instances of:

  •  Headaches
  •  Lethargy
  •  Confusion
  •  Insomnia
  •  Irritability
  •  Spasms
  •  Nausea
  •  Constipation
  •  Panic disorders
  •  Hallucinations
  •  Anxiety
  •  Seizures

After this understanding of why someone would choose a taper to avoid withdrawals, learning how to taper off Ativan is the next step. Each medical Ativan taper begins with an Ativan taper schedule provided by a physician. Some people may decide to attempt an at-home taper. While the intent of the endeavor is admirable, the unparalleled support structure in a clinical setting cannot be rivaled.

If a patient is looking for an alternate approach, they may be able to undertake a substitution taper. As would be expected, most Ativan tapers have a patient tapering their Ativan. This is very straightforward. Substitution tapers trade a short-acting benzo like Ativan for a long-acting one like Valium. What exactly is the purpose of this? Because Ativan only stays in the body for a few hours, withdrawals can onset much sooner than when taking a long-acting benzo. This is known as having an interdose withdrawal — a sort of miniature withdrawal between dosing periods. Long-acting benzodiazepines last longer (as their name implies), meaning withdrawals are held off and the patient doesn’t have to take Ativan doses all the time.

Ativan taper charts divvy up doses on a daily, weekly and monthly basis depending on how long the taper should last. The chart would be converted into milligrams of Valium if a substitution taper were at play. In most cases, tapers are a slow process — reductions may occur at 10 percent intervals per week. Patients who have attempted an Ativan detox before may benefit more from a swifter cutback, say, 25 percent instead. An example Ativan taper schedule of this caliber may include.

Week 1: Commence taper. No reduction.

Week 2: Ativan dose lowered by 25 percent.

Week 3: Dose further reduced 25 percent.

Week 4: Dose sustained at 50 percent for 4 weeks. No reduction.

Week 9: Back to a reduction of 25 percent weekly until 0 mg of Ativan is achieved.

Recovery from Ativan use is an incremental effort. A patient will have to give their absolute most during each step in order to see results. But, with a little structure to guide the way, recovery can be a not-so-distant reality for many.


If you’ve tried the taper method on your own with little success, you may be in need of assistance from a medical professional. The Recovery Village provides rehabilitation services for people from all across the country. Call 352.771.2700 to learn more about treatment options.

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a 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 provider.