Ativan Side Effects & Symptoms of Abuse

When someone is abusing Ativan, there may be some symptoms and warning signs that appear. The drug is powerful, and it carries with it a very high risk of physical dependence and addiction, even more so than many other similar types of drugs. It’s also important to note that dependence doesn’t just happen when people abuse Ativan without a prescription. It can also occur in individuals who have a prescription, and even who follow it as they should. When someone becomes physically dependent on Ativan, it means their body has developed a tolerance for it, requiring that they continue to use it to function normally.
Sometimes it can be difficult to spot outward signs that a person is using or abusing Ativan. One of the top questions a lot of people have about their friends or family is “how does someone act on Ativan?” It becomes more challenging to recognize whether or not someone is on Ativan the more they use it because their body becomes so used to the drug that it allows them to function normally, whereas stopping its use would actually be what would cause many of the more visible side effects.

In some cases, there may be some outward signs a person is on Ativan or is abusing it, particularly if they take high doses.

Some of the behavioral signs of Ativan abuse  may include:

  •       Dizziness
  •       Nausea
  •       Vomiting
  •       Confusion
  •       Sweating
  •       Headaches
  •       Loss of appetite

People who are abusing Ativan may also experience hallucinations and tremors.

In a general sense, Ativan addiction behavior often becomes similar to the addiction behaviors seen with the use of other drugs. For example, if someone has a prescription for Ativan that person may start taking more of the drug than they’re supposed to, or they may start taking doses more often that their prescription indicates. Often when someone is abusing a drug, including Ativan, they may also become preoccupied with the drug, its use and how to secure more of it.

Since Ativan is obtainable by prescription, when people start to abuse the drug they will often engage in something called doctor shopping, which refers to going to different physicians in the hope of getting multiple prescriptions. Another sign there could be a problem is creating symptoms that seem to be in line with requirements to obtain an Ativan prescription.

When someone is abusing Ativan, they may become elusive, and they may lose interest in things they were previously interested in their life. For example, people on Ativan might not meet school, professional or social obligations.

When someone is dependent on Ativan, which can happen quickly, they will experience withdrawal symptoms like nausea and anxiety if they miss a dose, or if they don’t take enough. They’ll also have acquired a tolerance, meaning they’ll need to take more for the effects they want. Cravings are an indication of psychological dependence, and these cravings can interfere with responsibilities and relationships.

People who are abusing Ativan may start to withdraw from their life, and they might also start lying or stealing to support their habit.

It’s often said that the physical side effects of using Ativan are somewhat similar to what alcohol intoxication looks like. Some of the ways Ativan can impact the brain and body include drowsiness, dizziness and a general loss of coordination. Taking Ativan, particularly if you’re abusing it can also lead to blurred vision, nausea, headaches, sexual changes, constipation and change in appetite.

Some of the more severe symptoms on the brain and body can include mental and mood changes, such as hallucinations and depression, weakness, memory and cognition problems, and trouble walking or talking.

Since Ativan impacts the central nervous system, it can have widespread effects on the brain and body in the short and long-term. It ultimately slows down the functionality of the brain and the body. This can lead to physical and mental symptoms related to response times, reflexes, learning, memory and cognitive function.

Many of the physical symptoms of using Ativan are amplified during withdrawal, and these can range from irritability and shakiness to sweating and abdominal pain.

Of course, these physical symptoms are in addition to the many mental symptoms people experience with Ativan. They often isolate themselves, lose pleasure in daily activities, sleep frequently, often seem drowsy or confused, and may have a decline in performance at school or work.

Ativan is not intended for long-term usage. Rather, it’s typically prescribed only for a few months at a time because of the potential for dependence, as well as the other possible side effects that can arise. Many people wonder what does Ativan do to you, and what are the signs of chronic Ativan use?

With chronic, long-term Ativan use, there are likely to be extensive physical, emotional and psychological consequences.

Ativan, as with other drugs classified as benzodiazepines, impacts the central nervous system. It slows it down and calms excessive activity, which is how it works to calm anxiety. Within just a few weeks, however, a person’s tolerance to this drug builds, and they need higher doses to achieve the same effects. With long-term use, their physical dependence on the drug grows, as does their psychological dependence in many instances.

When the activity of the brain and central nervous system is slowed through the use of Ativan over extended periods of time, it suppresses the cardiovascular and respiratory systems.

Other possible Ativan drug effects and signs of chronic Ativan use may include:

  •       Problems with learning and cognition
  •       Drowsiness or sedation
  •       Fatigue (mental and physical)
  •       Increased levels of anxiety
  •       Memory loss
  •       Shallow breathing
  •       General confusion and disorientation
  •       Difficulties with the kidneys
  •       Mouth sores

With the cognitive impairment that can occur, which is particularly prevalent among older people who take Ativan, the existing function may not entirely return even after stopping Ativan. For the most part, cognitive issues related to long-term use will resolve themselves, but there still may be some lingering signs of cognitive impairment following heavy use of Ativan.

It’s not just your brain and body that are affected by chronic Ativan use, however. People who abuse this drug, particularly over the long-term are also more likely to experience emotional problems, trouble in relationships, and stressful home lives. They may face financial or legal difficulties, and they often are unemployed, which can be the result of their drug use.

There is a common misconception among people who use medications like Ativan. They feel like since Ativan, and other drugs like it are prescription drugs, they aren’t harmful, or they can’t overdose on this. This is, unfortunately, a dangerous and often deadly myth that surrounds these drugs and others like them. It is absolutely possible to overdose on Ativan, and Ativan overdose deaths occur every year.

The therapeutic dosage for Ativan must be determined by a health care provider and is based on factors such as the condition being treated, the individual’s age and health history, prior experience with benzodiazepine drugs, and response. For people who do follow the care provider’s instructions, an overdose isn’t likely, but there are a lot of factors that can lead to an overdose. Some of these include not following prescriptions or buying Ativan illegally. Another key reason people overdose on Ativan is because they combine it with alcohol or other drugs, or they build up a tolerance to it. The majority of Ativan overdoses are related to mixing this medication not only with alcohol, but also other prescription drugs, in particular, opioids.

Overdose symptoms with Ativan can include over-sedation, nausea, vomiting, respiratory complications, amnesia, unconsciousness, coma or death.


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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