The Dangers of Misusing Lorazepam

Lorazepam is a benzodiazepine drug that has sedative and hypnotic properties. It is also known as Ativan, which is the brand name for lorazepam. Lorazepam is a long-duration drug used to treat anxiety, seizures, muscle spasms and insomnia. Benzodiazepines are one of the most widely prescribed drugs in the world and have many practical uses in medicine as a short-term treatment for a variety of symptoms. Like most medications that produce a psychoactive effect, lorazepam is often misused recreationally. Many people have become dependent on lorazepam and other benzodiazepines.

Lorazepam is currently listed by the DEA as a Schedule IV controlled substance. Schedule IV drugs are characterized as drugs that are widely accepted and commonly used in medicine, but do pose the risk of misuse by the public. Schedule IV drugs may be habit-forming, lead to dependence, and bring about withdrawal symptoms.
When taken as prescribed, lorazepam is administered in pill form over a course of a few days to several weeks. Lorazepam has a long half-life, with effects lasting from 12-24 hours. Under certain conditions, lorazepam is injected directly into patient’s muscle tissue or delivered intravenously for a faster effect. When taken illicitly, lorazepam is taken in pill form, crushed up into powder and snorted, or reduced into liquid and injected intravenously.
Lorazepam is intended to treat acute symptoms like anxiety or insomnia. It has sedative qualities, which make it popular as a recreational drug. People who take lorazepam recreationally might feel sedative effects that are similar to the high from marijuana or the intoxication from alcohol. The long duration of the drug in the body means that the effects can last for several hours.

There are many possible dangerous side effects that come with misusing and abusing lorazepam, such as paranoia, drowsiness, difficulty breathing, shaking, tremors, nausea, loss of motor ability, confusion and amnesia. When used over time, people taking lorazepam are likely to develop a tolerance to the drug that leads to dependency.

Lorazepam is intended for short-term use due to the body’s tendency to develop a tolerance to the drug. People who abuse lorazepam or even just take it as prescribed may experience a lessening of its effects over time. As a result, people have to take higher doses more frequently to feel the same effects, leading to an even greater tolerance over time. This increased tolerance can lead to dependence, which makes it hard for people to function without being under the influence of lorazepam.

People who become addicted to lorazepam will eventually have to face the often-painful withdrawal symptoms involved with quitting. Benzodiazepines can have intense physical withdrawal symptoms, so much so that doctors have created a term for it – benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome. People who have become dependent upon lorazepam have to start taking the drug in incrementally smaller doses in order to avoid suffering intense withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms can include insomnia, seizures, hallucinations, irritability, digestive problems, panic attacks, depression and suicide.

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.

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