Lorazepam Risks: Pregnancy & Health Conditions

Lorazepam, sold under the trade name Ativan, is a sedative and hypnotic drug that belongs to the class of benzodiazepine drugs. It is a long-duration drug that brings about effects which last as long as 12-24 hours. Lorazepam is used to treat acute symptoms and conditions such as seizures, insomnia, anxiety, panic attacks, muscle spasms and symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.

Lorazepam Risks: Pregnancy & Health Conditions

Lorazepam and other benzodiazepine medications are generally only prescribed as a short-term solution to treat acute symptoms. For example, a patient who suffers from chronic anxiety would not be given lorazepam to treat their condition, while a patient who has acute anxiety or panic attacks, may be given a prescription for lorazepam to help deal with a sudden attack. Patients taking benzodiazepines tend to develop a tolerance in as little as three days of regular use, though many prescriptions for lorazepam and other similar drugs extend for as long as four weeks. Risk of benzodiazepine dependence makes the drug unsuitable to treat chronic conditions.

Lorazepam could result in many side effects. People who become dependent upon the drug may experience rebound symptoms when they stop using lorazepam. Rebound symptoms are virtually identical to the symptoms that the lorazepam was initially prescribed to treat in the first place. Many people who misuse lorazepam, whether or not they have a prescription for the drug, become addicted to it. Benzodiazepine addiction is common and usually requires professional medical treatment to help people to overcome it.

Lorazepam is not suitable for all patients. In addition to causing some common side effects, lorazepam can have even greater adverse effects on some patients, in particular. Who should avoid lorazepam?

Women who are pregnant or nursing. Use of lorazepam or other benzodiazepines can cause unwanted effects in pregnant or nursing women. The unborn child is at a higher risk during the first trimester of pregnancy. Taking lorazepam during pregnancy could put the baby at risk of being born dependent upon benzodiazepine. Lorazepam can also pass to babies through breastmilk. Doctors usually only prescribe lorazepam to pregnant patients when the potential benefits of the drug outweigh the risks of harm to the mother and unborn baby.

People with respiratory problems. People with conditions like acute asthma could be at a higher risk of respiratory complications when they take lorazepam.

Elderly patients. Due to the long duration and half-life of lorazepam, patients over the age of 65 are generally not prescribed the drug. Lorazepam can affect blood pressure, motor function and cognitive ability and create a risk of injury or accident for elderly patients.

People with glaucoma. Lorazepam causes the pupils to dilate and could present complications for patients with glaucoma.

People with sleep apnea. The sedative qualities of lorazepam make it especially risky for people with sleep apnea.

People who are intoxicated. Lorazepam and other benzodiazepines are dangerous when taken with alcohol or other drugs. People who are intoxicated on another substance may be more likely to overdose if they take lorazepam.

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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