What Are the Dangers of Quitting Ativan Cold Turkey?
Last Updated Dec 2, 2021
Quitting Ativan cold turkey can result in intense withdrawal symptoms, some of which may require medical treatment and even be life-threatening. Potential withdrawal symptoms include respiratory issues, heart problems, and seizures, among others.
Because of the physical dependence that can develop with prolonged Ativan use, intense withdrawal symptoms can be experienced when discontinuing its use. Quitting Ativan cold turkey is not recommended, especially for those who have used benzodiazepines, such as Ativan, for an extended period of time.
What Is Ativan?
Ativan (the brand name for lorazepam) is a type of benzodiazepine drug that comes along with a potential risk for abuse. Its use can result in physical and psychological dependence.
Ativan is considered a Schedule IV drug, and it is most often prescribed for the treatment of anxiety disorders. Ativan is also used to treat anxiety symptoms brought on by depression. It is not used to treat depression itself.
Ativan has an effect on the central nervous system (CNS) by increasing gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) availability in the brain. GABA calms the central nervous system, which results in a tranquilizing or sedative effect on both the mind and body.
What Happens When You Quit Ativan Cold Turkey?
It is never recommended to quit use of a benzodiazepine cold turkey. Instead, it is necessary for an individual to wean off the anti-anxiety drug Ativan instead of quitting suddenly and without warning. Quitting cold turkey shocks the brain and the body, especially in cases where tolerance has been built up.
Severe withdrawal symptoms can occur when quitting suddenly. These symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, hallucinations, and even psychosis.
During the acute withdrawal phase (at around seven days after last use), withdrawal symptoms are often at their worst. They may include sweating, shaking, lack of focus, depression, weight loss, heart palpitations, respiratory issues, and other symptoms. If you or someone you know experiences any of these sorts of symptoms while quitting Ativan, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately.
Dangers & Risks of Quitting Ativan Suddenly
When quitting Ativan cold turkey, the body and the brain can respond in a variety of ways that result in dangerous symptoms, many of which will require medical attention. Respiratory issues and heart issues may occur.
Other dangers of quitting Ativan cold turkey include the following:
- Suicidal ideation
- Increased blood pressure
- Increased heart rate
If intense withdrawal symptoms are ignored, Ativan withdrawal can even result in death.
Symptoms of Ativan Withdrawal
Withdrawal symptoms can start to occur as early as 24 hours after quitting Ativan use. Withdrawal symptoms will typically start to show within a day to a few days after quitting the drug.
There is a lot of individual variation in terms of withdrawal timelines. Generally, withdrawal symptoms will begin to decline after about two weeks after discontinuing use. However, some benzodiazepine users may experience withdrawal symptoms for months or even years after quitting use.
Is it Safe to Quit Ativan Cold Turkey at Home?
It is not recommended to quit Ativan cold turkey at home, as intense withdrawal symptoms often occur. Some withdrawal symptoms, such as seizures, hallucinations, and/or suicidal ideation, require immediate treatment from medical professionals.
Do not attempt to quit any use of benzodiazepines after extended use without first consulting a doctor.
How to Quit Ativan Safely
The safest way to quit Ativan is to go through a medical detox program, which most often entails tapering off the drug.
Tapering is conducted by lowering the dose amount over a certain period of time (usually around eight weeks) until the dosage amount is lowered to zero. This slow approach to withdrawal reduces the likelihood of withdrawal symptoms and cravings, keeping patients safe throughout the process.
If any symptoms do occur, they can be managed by a medical professional, or the tapering dosage can be adjusted.
How Long Does It Take to Detox Completely From Ativan?
If an individual quits any benzodiazepine drug cold turkey, withdrawal symptoms will usually subside in around two weeks, at which point you can safely assume the body and brain have gone through detoxification.
If using the tapering method, full detox generally takes around eight weeks, as the individual is slowly weaned off the drug.
If you have been misusing Ativan or any drug, detox won’t cure the underlying issue. You’ll need to participate in addiction treatment via an inpatient or outpatient program to address the root causes of the substance abuse. In therapy, you’ll develop coping mechanisms, so you don’t return to substance abuse, and you’ll begin to build habits that support a healthy life in recovery.
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