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Ativan Withdrawal Timeline: How Long Does Lorazepam Withdrawal Take?

On average, acute Ativan withdrawal symptoms emerge within about 6-8 hours of last use and last for approximately 5 days.

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On average, acute Ativan withdrawal symptoms last for about five days. Acute Ativan withdrawal symptoms include the following:[7]

  • Anxiety
  • Blurred vision
  • Depression
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Gastrointestinal distress (such as nausea, diarrhea, and decreased appetite)
  • Headache
  • High blood pressure
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Memory loss
  • Muscle pain
  • Panic attacks
  • Tremor
  • Hallucinations
  • Psychosis
  • Seizures

Meanwhile, protracted or post-acute Ativan withdrawal can last weeks, months, or even years after quitting lorazepam.[1] Protracted withdrawal symptoms can include the following:[7]

  • Anxiety
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle weakness or twitching
  • Tinnitus
  • Formication (or feelings that insects are crawling beneath the skin)

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Both stages are uncomfortable, and some acute withdrawal symptoms can be life-threatening. Some people develop seizures during lorazepam withdrawal caused by an addiction to Ativan

Never stop using Ativan without talking to a doctor and creating a plan first. Your doctor can make a slow-moving taper schedule that helps you get sober while keeping you safe. You may also want to consider a medical detox program, especially if your addiction or dependence is severe.

How Long Does Ativan Withdrawal Take?

Quick Answer

Quitting Ativan cold-turkey can lead to uncomfortable and potentially dangerous withdrawal lasting about five days. Your protracted withdrawal may last weeks or months after acute withdrawal resolves. In a treatment or detox program, doctors taper your dose for 10 weeks or longer to help you withdraw safely.[2]

Ativan Withdrawal Timeline 

If you stop taking Ativan abruptly, you can develop a series of uncomfortable systems that last for weeks. The withdrawal timeline is dependent upon a drug’s half-life, as well as the onset of effects and how long they last. Ativan is an intermediate-acting benzodiazepine, and a typical withdrawal process looks like the following:[2]

Time Since Last DoseSymptomsIntensity
6-8 hoursAnxiety, heart palpitations, nausea, vomiting, tremors, sweatingModerate
24-48 hoursSeizures, hallucinations, agitation, tremors, confusionHigh, peak intensity
4-5 daysCravings, anxiety, sleep disturbancesModerate/mild, symptoms tend to resolve
Several weeks or monthsAnxiety, depression, insomnia, and cravingsMild, fluctuating

This withdrawal timeline is for those who quit Ativan cold turkey or on their own, without any medical care, supervision, or guidance. It is how your body will naturally move through withdrawal and rid your body of Ativan and other toxins. However, many factors affect how long lorazepam withdrawal will last.

This table can help you understand the difference between acute and protracted withdrawal symptoms:

·  Anxiety·  Blurred vision·  Depression·  Dizziness·  Fatigue·  GI distress (such as nausea, diarrhea, and decreased appetite)·  Headache·  High blood pressure·  Irritability·  Insomnia·  Memory loss·  Muscle pain·  Panic attacks·  Tremor·  Hallucinations·  Psychosis·  Seizures ·  Anxiety·  Cognitive impairment·  Depression·  Insomnia·  Muscle weakness or twitching·  Tinnitus·  Formication (or feelings that insects are crawling beneath the skin) 

Factors Affecting the Lorazepam Withdrawal Timeline

The factors that affect the Ativan withdrawal timeline include:

  • Whether you taper off of Ativan or not (tapering will make withdrawal and detox last much longer)
  • Your individual physiology
  • Your liver functioning
  • Your previous withdrawal experiences
  • Co-occurring medical conditions
  • The method of administration (e.g. injecting or snorting)
  • How long you’ve been using Ativan and what dose
  • Whether you mix lorazepam with other substances like alcohol or opioids

How Long Does Ativan Withdrawal Last with a Taper?

Ativan detox using a tapering method can last anywhere from a few weeks to several months, depending on many factors, such as:[3]

  • Your doctor’s recommendations
  • The lorazepam dose you were taking
  • The severity of your withdrawal symptoms
  • Your individual needs
  • Your relapse risk
  • How well you are tolerating the reduced dose

Generally, you can expect your Ativan tapering schedule to involve decreasing your dose by 25% within the first two weeks. After that, your doctor may reduce the dose by 25% daily or weekly, depending on how you tolerate the reduction.[4]

How to Taper Off Ativan

The safest way to handle Ativan withdrawal is to work with a doctor on a customized tapering schedule.

Here are the steps that are typically involved:[4]

  • Assessment: Your doctor confirms how much Ativan you take every day.
  • Planning: Some people taper with Ativan, while others switch to a different benzodiazepine medication.
  • Initial taper: Generally, you can expect your Ativan tapering schedule to involve decreasing your dose by 25% within the first two weeks.
  • Continued taper: After that, your doctor may reduce the dose by 25% daily or weekly, depending on how you tolerate the reduction.
  • Quit: In time, you won’t need to take Ativan at all.

An approach like this allows your brain cells to adjust to sobriety slowly, so you can avoid some of the serious risks associated with a cold-turkey quit. While it’s safe, supervision is essential.

Your doctor must provide you with a safe supply of Ativan you can use during your taper, and a medical team must ensure that you’re handling the program properly. Signs like increased nervousness or stiff muscles could indicate the taper is moving too fast.

If you taper without a doctor’s help, you could purchase unsafe street versions of Ativan that are tainted by other drugs. You could also try to taper too quickly and relapse.

How Long Do Post-Acute Withdrawal Symptoms Last?

Once acute Ativan withdrawal resolves, you may notice some symptoms that linger for weeks, months, or even a year after detox. These are known as post-acute withdrawal symptoms or protracted withdrawal symptoms, and they tend to be less severe than acute symptoms, although they can fluctuate.[5]

Protracted withdrawal symptoms, such as depression, anxiety, and cravings, can last for weeks, months, or even a year after you go through acute Ativan withdrawal.

You may also experience periods without Ativan post-acute withdrawal symptoms only to have them come back during periods of stress.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Ativan Withdrawal Timeline

We’ve compiled some of the most frequently asked questions about Ativan withdrawal timelines and treatment. 

How Long Does Ativan Stay in Your System?

Ativan can stay in your system anywhere from a few days to a month or more. 

How Do You Taper Off Ativan?

An Ativan taper involves taking a little less of the medication each day until you’re taking none. The process can take months, and your doctor should create a schedule and monitor your progress. 

What is the Ativan Withdrawal Timeline?

You may experience symptoms within 6-8 hours of your last dose. These symptoms may peak between 1 and 2 days and resolve or dramatically improve within 5 days.

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Medically Reviewed By Dr. Alison Tarlow

Dr. Alison Tarlow is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist in the States of Florida and Pennsylvania, and a Certified Addictions Professional (CAP). She has been a practicing psychologist for over 15 years. Sh... Read More

Updated April 18, 2024
  1. Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). American Psychiatric Association. (2013).
  2. Management of Benzodiazepine Misuse and Dependence. (October 2015). Australian Prescriber.
  3. Ativan (Lorazepam) Tablets. (September 2016). U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
  4. Deprescribing Benzodiazepine Receptor Agonists for Insomnia in Adults Croke, L. (2019). Am Fam Physician 99(1):57-58
  5. Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS). SEMEL Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. (n.d.).
  6. Challenges of the Pharmacological Management of Benzodiazepine Withdrawal, Dependence, and Discontinuation. (May 2019). Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology.
  7. Ativan Prescribing Information. (February 2021). U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
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