How Long Does Ativan Withdrawal Take?
Last Updated Dec 2, 2021
On average, Ativan withdrawal takes 5 days to a month or longer.
Ativan is a type of benzodiazepine, a powerful medication used to treat anxiety, sleep disorders, and seizures. Even taking Ativan in small doses can result in withdrawal symptoms if you stop taking it suddenly. These symptoms can last anywhere from a few days to a month or longer.
Ativan withdrawal can be thought of in three stages, which include early symptoms that occur within 24 hours, acute withdrawal symptoms that occur within a few days, and protracted withdrawal symptoms that occur around two weeks.
Ativan Withdrawal Symptoms
Early-stage Ativan withdrawal symptoms (similar to other benzodiazepines) include reduced appetite, increased blood pressure, and increased irritability (or mood swings).
Acute Withdrawal Symptoms
Acute withdrawal symptoms generally occur around five days after stopping use and include the following:
- Heart palpitations
- Increased heart rate
- Weight loss
- Irregular sleep patterns
- Poor concentration
Protracted Withdrawal Symptoms
Protracted (also called prolonged) withdrawal symptoms can start to occur at around the two-week mark. Protracted withdrawal symptoms include the following:
- Anxiety or irritability
- Abdominal pain
- Muscle or body aches
- Excessive sweating
How Long Does Ativan Withdrawal Take?
Some individuals can start to experience withdrawal symptoms as early as 24 hours after stopping Ativan. Many people who use Ativan will begin to experience withdrawal symptoms a few days after stopping use.
For many, withdrawal symptoms will hit peak severity at the two-week mark, and they begin to decrease in intensity thereafter.
Although most individuals stop experiencing withdrawal symptoms after 5 to 28 days, people who use high amounts of Ativan can experience symptoms that last months after stopping use.
Some individuals experience mood swings, apathetic attitudes, and even certain psychological issues many months or even years after quitting Ativan. Cases such as these are diagnosed as post-acute withdrawal syndrome.
Factors That Affect the Withdrawal Timeline
The Ativan withdrawal timeline can be affected by a variety of factors, but the strongest influence on the length of withdrawal is most likely the severity of abuse. Individuals who use high amounts of Ativan for long periods of time are more likely to experience withdrawal symptoms that are more severe and longer in duration.
Body mass index (BMI), metabolism, and certain genetic and psychological factors can also affect the length of withdrawal. Those with co-occurring disorders are susceptible to experiencing intensified withdrawal symptoms when quitting Ativan.
Ativan Abuse Symptoms
Those who use Ativan without a prescription from a trained medical professional and those who abuse Ativan may exhibit the following symptoms:
- Drowsiness or lethargy
- Inability to maintain obligations
- Social detachment
- Compromised decision-making abilities
- Lack of appetite
- Lack of coordination
- Labored breathing or respiratory issues
Individuals who abuse Ativan may also engage in certain drug-seeking behaviors, such as combining Ativan with other drugs (like marijuana, alcohol, and other prescription medications), forging prescriptions, or “swapping” prescription drugs with others.
Knowing the signs and the dangers of Ativan abuse may stop you from misusing Ativan. It can also help you identify if someone you know has an Ativan abuse problem.
Signs Someone Is Going Through Ativan Withdrawal
It may be difficult to be able to tell when someone is going through withdrawal, as Ativan withdrawal symptoms are similar to many other conditions and illnesses.
It will be easier for close friends and family members to tell if someone they know is misusing prescription drugs like Ativan because they will have a regular baseline of behavior that will serve as a point of reference.
Signs of Ativan withdrawal include the following:
- Sickness and nausea
- Body aches
- Trouble speaking or slurred speech
- Drug cravings
Psychologically speaking, signs that someone is going through Ativan withdrawal include irritability, mood swings, poor memory, and confusion.
Treatment Options for Ativan Withdrawal
Ativan withdrawal treatment varies from individual to individual and depends on the severity of the addiction and use history.
Those who misuse Ativan will generally need to go through a medically assisted detox. As with all benzodiazepines, medical professionals often recommend tapering off Ativan. This gradual reduction in dosing significantly decreases the likelihood of withdrawal symptoms.
With benzodiazepines, withdrawal can potentially be life-threatening if use is stopped suddenly. It’s imperative that you don’t suddenly stop taking Ativan on your own. Talk to your doctor about the best way to structure a tapered approach.
In some instances, medications may be prescribed to address specific symptoms that come up during withdrawal. For example, antidepressants may be prescribed if someone is struggling with depression.
After withdrawal, comprehensive addiction treatment is needed if there has been Ativan misuse. Withdrawal on its own does not constitute addiction treatment, so therapy is needed to address the issues that led to substance misuse in the first place. In an addiction treatment program, clients can undergo both medical detox and thorough addiction therapy to best promote full recovery from Ativan misuse.
Current Practice in Benzodiazepine Receptor Agonists Deprescribing on Acute Geriatric Wards: a Cohort Study. (February 2022). BMC Geriatrics.
Benzodiazepines: Uses, Dangers, and Clinical Considerations. (November 2021). Neurology International.
Experiences With Benzodiazepine Use, Tapering, and Discontinuation: An Internet Survey. (April 2022). Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology.
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